Illustrative image (Source: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – The first national forum on organic agriculture took place in Ho Chi Minh City on December 27, discussing solutions to develop the sector.

Participating experts said organic farming growth in Vietnam requires the handling of barriers in material input, production-processing, trade, and preferential policies.

They pointed to the fact that farmers are reluctant to shift to the practice due to unproven incomes and markets, high costs and strict requirements. Many firms operating in the field are yet to receive credit and land assistance from the State. In addition, organic production has become a widespread trend, resulting in rampant and unqualified production and products in the country, they said.

Nguyen Van Bo, former head of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, proposed the Government build a roadmap for development of organic agriculture, as well as define key products and prioritised farming areas.

The completion of local standard requirement and certification – monitoring system is also necessary, he added.

Le Quoc Phong, deputy head of the Vietnam Organic Agriculture Association, called attention to the management of material input, particularly fertilizer, for organic farming. He said quality of organic fertilisers is a major issue, as the use of large amount of substandard fertilizers poses pollution risks, hence the need for the production of high quality and clean organic fertilisers.

Phong also said it is important to prevent unhealthy competition from fake organic goods via the establishment of a national certification system.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) Tran Thanh Nam said the ministry supports organic farming growth while maintaining food security.

Nam noted comments by participants at the forum will be included in a draft decree on organic agriculture. The decree is expected to lay basis for other policies to be issued, after it is approved by the Prime Minister.

Currently, the MARD is working with the Ministry of Science and Technology to review organic criteria for production, processing, and labeling in line with international standards.

According to the MARD, 33 provinces and cities nationwide have started organic agriculture, with organic farms spanning about 77,000 hectares in 2016, 3.6 times larger than that of 2010.-VNA