An annual forum was held in Hanoi on November 25 seeking ways to support the development of the domestic food production market, improving product quality and safety and ensuring benefits for farmers.

This year’s forum, co-organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the International Support Group (ISG) is themed “Market Development for Safe Agricultural Products”.

Speaking at the event, MARD Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu said that although the safe vegetable trademark and certification has been developed in several localities, this kind of product has not yet been widely consumed.

This shows the insufficiencies in the production and supply chain, as well as problems with technical standards, she added.

Experts said Vietnam is still weak in production management, even though consumers’ demands on the quality of products are not high. There should be better coordination and an improved legal framework to control the safe vegetable production chain.

Vietnam can learn from several countries such as Japan, France and Ireland, they said.

According to the MARD Deputy Minister, Vietnam has recently developed some safe vegetable management projects with assistance from Denmark, Canada and Japan. However maintaining the projects once they are complete will be difficult due to a lack of finance.

Thu called for more international support in building a sustainable safe agricultural production chain.

Statistics from MARD’s Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production show that Vietnam is now devoting over 823,000 hectares of land to grow vegetables, which creates an output of 14 million tonnes of products per year, 85 percent of which are for domestic consumption.

Despite having a large diversity of vegetables, the area set aside for safe vegetable production in Vietnam is still limited. As of early 2013, there were only 71,728 hectares of land zoned off for safe vegetable production and of these, only 6,800 ha have been certified as meeting safe production standards, including various kinds of GAP (Good Agricultural Practice) standards.-VNA