The agricultural sector is expected to continue facing difficulties in increasing exports in terms of markets and price, although there could be signs of mild improvement, experts said.

Last year, some of the exports of the agricultural, forestry and seafood sectors were valued at a total of 1 billion USD or higher. These exports included seafood, wood and wood products, rice, rubber, coffee, cashew and cassava.

In 2014, two more agricultural product segments – cashew nuts and fruits and vegetables – are expected to join the list of export segments earning at least 1 billion USD by value.

Do Ha Nam, chairman of the Vietnam Pepper Association, noted that last year, the pepper industry generated a record high of 900 million USD in exports by value, possibly even 1 billion USD if the exports from border gates are included.

Towards the end of 2013, the price of pepper increased steadily in the local market, while the export price rose to 7,000 USD per tonne in December. The export price surged sharply due to high demand in the global market, Nam noted.

Nam expects the value of pepper export contracts to reach 1 billion USD this year because Vietnamese farmers can control the quantity of exports, which will continue to keep the export price at a high level.

The fruit and vegetable industry is also expected to earn more than 1 billion USD in exports by value this year if the sector maintains the growth rate of 2013. The industry's exports were valued at nearly 1 billion USD last year.

Meanwhile, the cashew nut industry is ready to raise exports to 2 billion USD this year if cashew processing companies decide to further invest in processing facilities to increase the proportion of value-added products, as well as the value of exports, said Nguyen Duc Thanh, chairman of the Vietnam Cashew Association.

Last year, the sector earned 1.8 billion USD from exporting raw cashew nuts and processed cashew products, he added.

The wood and wood products industry is estimated to earn 6 billion USD in exports by value in 2014 if it maintains its 2013 growth rate. In 2013, the industry's exports were valued at 5-5.5 billion USD.

In the case of rice production, Truong Thanh Phong, chairman of the Vietnam Food Association, said local rice exporters had signed contracts to export rice early this year, including a contract for shipping 500,000 tonnes of 25-percent broken rice to the Philippines from December until the end of the first quarter of 2014.

This year, several countries plan to promote local rice production to reduce rice imports, while satisfying local demand.

To promote consumption, farmers must reduce production cost and increase the output of high-quality rice, Thanh added.-VNA