Workers of VinEco, the agriculture subsidiary of the Vietnamese conglomerate VinGroup, are packaging vegetable products marketed as clean, and safe organic products. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - Vietnam’s agriculture sector is aiming for annual growth of a minimum 3 percent, with labour productivity improving 3.5 percent a year by 2020, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan.

The ministry has also set a goal of having 15,000 effective agriculture cooperatives, increasing the rural population’s income by 1.8 times compared to 2015 and half of communes meeting ‘new rural’ criteria, Tuan said during a conference reviewing the agriculture restructuring plan held in Hanoi late last week.

To achieve these results, the agriculture sector would need to review and build three product lines: the national key product group, the provincial key product and products under the model "one commune, one product,” said Tuan.

Speaking at the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung called for efforts to restructure and build a modern, smart agriculture sector that is globally competitive.

The sector must also enhance its climate resilience and take into account sustainable development, Dung said.

“Economic restructuring, especially in the agriculture sector, is a constant struggle and a long-term duty. We must conduct further assessment to make plans based on each locality’s advantages, with consideration towards market demands, in order to produce large and high-quality output,” the Deputy PM said.

At the conference, he also stressed the central role of the people – as both the recipients and the conductors – of restructuring.

Businesses should be the driving force of the process, as they have the budget, science and technology, breeds and the capacity to organise production and look for consumption markets, he said.

After five years, Dung said the agriculture restructuring plan has brought a marked shift in awareness of both the people and the leadership of all levels on the need to reform and correct inherent weaknesses of the agriculture sector, raising incomes and improving quality of life for farmers.

In the past five years, the sector’s growth rate reached an average of 2.55 percent a year, with the figure for 2018 being 3.4 percent. Labour productivity in the sector has also improved, having increased by 6.67 percent a year, nearly double the target of 3.5 percent.

Average annual rural income has reached 130 million VND (5,570 USD), up 1.71 times compared to 2012 and surpassing the target, he said.

Despite these achievements, Tuan said the restructuring of agriculture has encountered obstacles that must be addressed.

Increasing added value in animal farming and boosting the area of plantations using water-conserving irrigation technologies and the number of livestock establishments with high-grade wastewater treatment facilities would require large investment and proper instructions.

Lack of planning and haphazard production, without input from market demands, is common in various localities, leading to production excesses that can’t be sold, burdening already struggling farmers, heard the conference.

Vietnamese agriculture products are not as competitive as they could be, despite improvements lately, experts said, attributing the issue to predominantly small-scale production, sluggish industrialisation and modernisation, and insufficient investment in the sector.

According to Deputy PM Dung, the agriculture sector needs to secure traditional markets while being able to expand to new markets.

At the same time, the domestic market with a 90 million population must not be abandoned, he said.

“The Vietnamese people have to have the best, highest quality products,” the Deputy PM said.-VNS/VNA