The Ministry of Industry and Trade believes that drastic measures need to be implemented to increase the competitiveness of farm produce and to fight against the desperately poor performance of Vietnamese agricultural products in many foreign markets.

According to the ministry, agricultural export revenue remains low despite the country’s standing as the world’s leading farm produce exporter, with key sales including rice, cashew, coffee and aquaculture.

Worryingly, product pricing remains a problem. Vietnam’s tea exports rank 5 th in terms of global quantity but only 10 th in price received. Similarly, Vietnamese tra fish has 90 percent of the market share but always fetches up to 30 percent less than similar products of competitors.

This is caused by rudimentary processing techniques and non-trademarked products, experts believe. In addition, very few contracts are signed directly with foreign partners due to limitations in processing and exporting capacity.

Experts attending the recent Vietnam International Conference on Food Industry said that despite GAP and GMP standard application in the farm produce process, huge losses still emerge in the harvesting to processing stages.

To join the global value chain, Vietnamese farm produce needs to see great improvements in everything from the seeds used to the pesticides utilised and the reaping process adopted, said Chairwoman of HCM City Food and Foodstuff Association, Ly Kim Chi.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued a decision on raising added value of farm produce and reducing post harvest losses by half.

In addition, Vo Thanh Do, a senior official from the Ministry, suggested that enterprises invest in advanced technology to make use of farm produce residues and byproducts, bringing additional value for agricultural products.

For example, bran rice residue can be used to produce bran oil and cattle feed while straw can be utilised for mushroom cultivation.

Meanwhile, Bui Huy Son, Director of the Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, highlighted that it is crucial for enterprises to know their target market tastes while create attractive designs for their products.

Free trade deals with foreign countries as well as the establishment of ASEAN Economic Community by the end of this year are expected to open up opportunities for Vietnamese agricultural exports. Enterprises need to focus on high-quality products and choose suitable distributing channels and export products in line with the diversified demands of the market.-VNA