Despite the negative impacts of the world economy, the agricultural sector posted a GDP growth of 6.27 percent and an export turnover of 27.5 billion USD in 2013.

These are joyful signals for the sector in the path of increasing farm produce sales by raising added value step by step.

Looking back on the year 2013, the sector faced a host of challenges, especially in selling agricultural products. In addition, low investment, high interest rates and input costs also hindered its development.

The farming sector has yet to see sustainable development, as measures for farm produce have predominantly been short-term fixes, stated Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat at a recent conference to review the sector’s 2013 performance.

However, it still maintained growth equivalent to that of the previous year, contributing to the country’s progress, inflation control, social security and new rural development, he said.

He also expressed his belief that the sector will continue to enjoy significant growth in the time to come as its restructuring drive is being implemented in all areas.

In order to remove difficulties for agricultural businesses and farmers, Phat said that the Government has recently issued policies to support production and sale, strictly prevent smuggling, and enhance the control and prevention of diseases.

Together with policies supporting the scientific and technological application, the Government is also developing the processing of agro-forestry and seafood products and reducing post-harvest losses, he said.

The State Bank of Vietnam has also provided soft loans for businesses and farmers to purchase machines and equipment, he added

Regarding the new rural development, Minister Phat said that the Party, National Assembly and Government has focused resources on speeding up a national target programme in this area, with a view to changing the outlook of the rural areas.

By the end of 2013, an impressive 93 percent of communes completed their new rural planning while 7,995 out of 9,084 communes approved projects on new rural building. Total social investment mobilised for the programme reached nearly 41.4 trillion VND (1.97 billion USD).

Many localities such as Tuyen Quang, Quang Ninh, Thai Nguyen and Ha Tinh have applied good policies in mobilising resources for this campaign.

Through the programme, more than 7,000 production models have been launched, contributing to improving production efficiency and rural residents’ incomes, said the minister.-VNA