The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has urged the restructuring of agriculture to increase farmers' incomes, produce higher-quality produce and improve export competitiveness.

Speaking at a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City on May 14, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said it was important to link the agricultural sector to the national programme on new rural areas.

Restructuring the agricultural sector would help reduce poverty, he said. Though Vietnam is one of the world's top rice exporters, many of its farmers remain poor, if not very poor.

In recent years, the country has provided training to farmers to help them increase yields, but the processing sector and the volume of raw material input has not been adequate.

Under restructuring, production chains would be established which would help enterprises, farmers and scientists work more efficiently.

Phat said agricultural restructuring would enhance economic growth and create higher incomes for farmers.

"Building new rural areas and restructuring agriculture depends on farmers," he said. "Even adapting to climate change and rising sea levels, farmers must be part of the process."

Restructuring should focus on the each region's strengths. For example, the strengths of the Mekong Delta are rice, fruit, and seafood.

Although farmers have been encouraged to grow other crops of high economic value on their paddy fields, rice paddies would remain the stronghold of Vietnamese agriculture, he said.

He said cultivation of other crops would be beneficial, but the choice of crops should depend on the market.

"It is essential now not to focus on increasing output, but instead on improving the quality and competitiveness of farm produce for export," Phat said.

Phat said that farmers needed more instruction in advanced techniques, including the use of new and better quality rice strains.

He said the agricultural industry should also seek more investment from the private sector, and focus on training high-quality human resources.-VNA