Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the event (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc pledged to work hard to remove and adjust unsuitable land use policies to accelerate agriculture development during an online year-end conference of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on December 26.

The PM pointed out that largest obstacles hindering agriculture development include land limitation, poor capacity of agricultural businesses and slow application of science and technology.

He showed disappointment at the limited use of e-commerce in the trading of agricultural products, the small production scale, land wastefulness and forest destruction.

The reservoir and irrigation system has been degraded, threatening people’s lives, while inspection in agriculture has been poor, he noted.

Along with information technology and tourism, agriculture is considered a strength of Vietnam and a comparative advantage, the PM said, adding that the sector is also employing 40 percent of the population. Therefore, he stressed the necessity to pay more attention to value rather than raw volume, and strengthen the building of trade mark.

The PM highlighted that Vietnam’s agriculture sector, which is vulnerable to climate change, should restructure its production towards smart agriculture with strong application of science and technology, thus enhancing products’ value and increasing farmers’ income.

At the same time, it is necessary to focus more on processing to raise products’ value, he said, asking the Ministry of Science and Technology to pay attention to developing science and technology serving agriculture.

This year, the agriculture sector has faced many difficulties. Extreme cold spells in early this year ravaged 14 northern mountainous localities, while historic droughts devastated the south central and Central Highlands regions, and record drought and saltwater intrusion in 100 years seriously hit the Mekong Delta region. Since October, serious floods have swept through eight south central localities.

Natural disasters led to water shortage for about 1 million people, harming 300,000 hectares of rice fields.

According to the MARD statistics, natural disasters killed 253 people and caused losses worth 39 trillion VND.

In the first half of this year, the sector’s growth suffered a drop of 0.18 percent, with falls in exports of almost all major products.

According to MARD Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong, the sector’s 1.2 percent growth in a challenging year showed the efforts of localities and farmers.

He noted that exports of vegetables and fruits surpassed that of rice, hitting 2.4 billion USD, a rise of 31.2 percent year on year. Animal husbandry also saw a 5.4 percent rise in production value over 2015.

In 2017, the sector aims at a GDP growth of 2.5-2.8 percent in agro-forestry-fishery and 32.5 billion USD in export earnings, said the ministry, adding that the sector will also raise forest coverage ratio to 41.5 percent, and the percentage of communes fulfilling new-style rural area building to 28-30 percent./.