Livestock farmers urged to join production links hinh anh 1Inside a pig farm in Vietnam (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Livestock farmers should join production links with cooperatives as well as processing and trading enterprises to sustain their livelihoods, experts said at a conference in Hanoi on December 12.

The conference, organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), sought measures to enhance production and consumption linkages in the livestock industry.

Deputy head of the ministry’s Department of Livestock Production, Nguyen Xuan Duong, said the concerted efforts made earlier this year to “save the pigs” as the prices of live pigs dropped to a record lows can only be a temporary measure.

The falling prices were chiefly attributed to weak production organisation of farmers, particularly in linking their production with the market, he said. Farmers were still basing their production on personal perceptions and not knowledge of supply-demand factors.

“Seeing an increase in pork prices, many farmers flocked to raising pigs, leading to oversupply and falling prices,” he said.

“This will be repeated if farmers do not join production links between themselves, co-operatives and enterprises. And not only pigs, but farmers could suffer losses with other produce such as cattle and chicken,” he said.

Establishing linkages would help farmers improve disease prevention, hygiene and food safety, establish product origins, identify shortcomings in the whole production process and, most importantly, deal better with supply and demand issues, Duong added.

Vinod Ahuja, a policy expert from FAO in the Asia-Pacific region, said the pig crisis had great impacts on small-scale households. How to protect farmers from market shocks was a tough question, he said.

Ahuja suggested specific regulations be issued on contracts and polices to protect farmers in cases of difficulties in the market.

Farmers should have opportunities to join the process of information supply and decision making, he said.

Duong said policies were needed to ensure benefits of all participants in the production links. At present, farmers often suffered losses while enterprises were always on the “safe side,” he noted.

Other speakers noted at the conference that many production links had gained high economic efficiency, like those established by the Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk) and TH True Milk Corporation. These models helped many farmers become rich, they said.

Hoang Quang Vu, an expert with the Institute of Policy and Agricultural and Rural Development Strategy, said the institute had studied the efficiency of a number of production links in Vietnam for many years.

The Tan Thong Hoi Cooperative in HCM City, for example, bought milk products from its members at a higher price than what farmers got from intermediaries. The cooperative then sold milk products to dairy firms. "This link helps reduce risks for farmers," Vu said.

However, such models were still limited and the linkages between farmers, cooperatives and enterprises remained low in the country, he added.-VNA