The agriculture sector’s export turnover in the first six months of 2018 reached some 20 billion USD, setting a decent pace by meeting half the year’s target of 41 billion USD. Despite challenges still facing the sector towards the year’s end, the general picture for agricultural exports is expected to be a leverage for the country’s GDP.

Vietnam has long been known around the world for its rice production, with rice paddy fields part of the iconic imagery of the country. However, the past four years saw rice production at a low point. Despite these gloomy years, rice exports have made a breakthrough in 2018, with prices even surpassing those of export giants in Thailand and India. Rice has greatly contributed to the country’s export turnover of agro-fishery-forestry products, which was altogether worth around 19.4 billion USD in the first half of 2018.

Nguyen Quoc Toan, Acting Head of Dep’t of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products under Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said: "We are fully aware that we are still only half way through the year, yet we have received positive signals that the yearly target is achievable. Still, challenges remain, including the declining demand of coffee, pepper, and rubber products."

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, aquaculture is hoped to be the sector’s driving force. Given the context of the yellow card by the European Commission imposed on exploited seafood and the United States’ technical barriers to basa fish, high hope is pinned on shrimp exports.

Nguyen Hoang Anh, General Director of Nam Mien Trung Aquaculture Investment Co. Ltd. said: "In my opinion, the shrimp sector in the second half of 2018 will thrive, especially as it is yet to process its major crop. According to experts, the price has a high chance of bouncing back as many countries have been lacking in shrimps imports, but Vietnam has just started harvesting the crop this year."

Other products are also expected to see the bright picture such as fruits and vegetables, cashew nuts, and forestry products.

Truong Gia Binh, Deputy Chairman of Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform said: "Looking at sectors in terms of the potential they hold, agriculture comes out on top, followed by IT and then tourism."

According to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, this year’s export target for farm produce is likely to be fulfilled. However, they also recommend the whole sector to keep an eye on weather conditions in case of any natural disasters, as well as adverse impacts from global trade relations. –VNA