The performance of agricultural cooperatives is still far behind expectations, although they support tens of millions of farming households, heard a workshop in Hanoi on May 21.

Data collected by the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance shows that by the end of 2014, the country had 142,800 cooperative groups and 18,638 cooperatives, attracting 12 million households. Of these, there were more than 10,000 providing agricultural and aquacultural services.

Attendees said the development of a cooperative economy has failed to live up to expectations due to an array of lingering weaknesses such as small-scale operations, low productivity, unqualified products and unstable consuming markets.

They blamed this on the shortage of capital, poor administration capacity, outdated technology and the neglect of trade promotion.

Hoang Xuan Truong, an expert from the Vietnam Science Association of Rural Development, said cooperatives are encountering a number of difficulties, especially those based in remote areas and ethnic minority communities where they lack the necessary conditions for development; like infrastructure, funding and skilled personnel.

The activeness of cooperative leaders is critical to the development of these organisations, said Nguyen Thi Luyen from the Moc Chau safe vegetable cooperative in northern Son La province, adding that farmers will join cooperatives only when they see economic benefits.

She said her cooperative, generating 500-600 million VND (23,800-28,500 USD) per hectare in revenue for 38 member households, hopes to receive technical assistance from relevant agencies and local authorities to increase vegetable quality and ensure product preservation and transportation.

At the workshop, other representatives and economists suggested Government agencies and local administrations assist cooperatives and cooperative groups in technological transfer and application, trade promotion, infrastructure building and personnel training, ultimately helping them develop in an increasingly fierce competition climate.-VNA