As a large agricultural producer, Vietnam has much demand for fertilisers and plant protection chemicals, offering much opportunity for companies in the field.

Tran Xuan Dinh, Deputy Head of the Crop Production Department, said Vietnam needs around 11 million tonnes of fertilisers a year, including 2.2 million tonnes of urea, 1.8 million tonnes of NPK, 900,000 tonnes each of DAP and SA.

Local production meets 80 percent of demand, though the country has to completely import potassium and SA since they are not produced here yet, he said.

Last year four million tonnes worth 1.3 billion USD were imported, mainly SA, DAP, potassium, urea, and NPK, he said.

Le Van Thiet of the central Crop Protection Department's HCM City office said besides shifting to other crops, intensive farming, increasing the number of crops year, and plant diseases have also increased in recent years, leading to high demand for pesticides.

The country needs 100,000 tonnes of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and others a year and 99 percent is imported.

There are 1,643 active ingredients with 3,902 product names permitted for use in Vietnam, 13 active ingredients with 22 product names that are restricted, and 29 active ingredients that are banned, he said.

Every year the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development promulgates the list of pesticides that are allowed, restricted and prohibited.

Nguyen Van Thieu, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Pesticides Association, said Vietnam has 98 companies that import ingredients and produce them for international manufacturers and pack them in containers. They have total installed capacity of 240,000 tonnes a year, but most run at half capacity, he said.

Besides supplying the domestic market, they also export 20,000 tonnes of pesticides to Myanmar, Taiwan and Indonesia each year, he said.

To expand exports, they must take part in international seminars, exhibitions and trade fairs to introduce their products to potential buyers, he said.

Vietnam's first international exhibition on fertilisers and agricultural chemicals will be held in HCM City's Tan Binh Exhibition and Convention Centre on July 16 and 17. Agro Chemicals Vietnam would offer a forum for local and international companies to exchange information and seek business partners, Thieu said.

Nguyen Ba Vinh, Director of Minh Vi Exhibition and Advertisement Services Co Ltd, the event's organiser, said more than 60 local and foreign companies have registered to participate in the show.

Conferences to discuss the agro-chemical market and government regulations on the production and trading of agro-chemicals in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and India will also be held at the event.

More than 70 percent of Vietnam's population lives on agriculture and agricultural lands account for nearly 80 percent of the country's area.

Vietnam is one of the world's largest producers and exporters of many agricultural items such as rice, coffee, pepper, and cashew nut.-VNA