Food security, safety and infrastructure investment in rural areas were among the chief issues discussed at March 22's online dialogue between members of the public and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat on the Government's website.

The public raised concerns over whether food security targets would be achieved when land for agricultural production was lost to construction projects such as golf courses and industrial parks.

Phat said the Party, Government and National Assembly were closely monitoring the development of agricultural land.

He pointed out that the Government had passed a resolution on increasing management of land for rice cultivation and that a minimum of 3.8 million ha of land had been set aside for rice cultivation up to 2020.

The minister also said the State had introduced numerous policies to boost food security.

On food safety and quality, Phat said “We are trying to build and issue legal documents to provide a legal foundation for localities to better manage food quality and increase management over the import of farm produce from abroad, while working on food inspections.”

Phat added that over the past few years, the State had mobilised resources to improve infrastructure in rural areas to improve farmers' living conditions.

Phat said it was vital for domestic producers to focus on price and quality.

He also noted the ministry had taken measures to ensure foreign farm products imported into Vietnam met national standards, particularly when it came to food safety and hygiene.

When asked why firms seemed reluctant to invest in the agricultural sector, particularly in remote areas, Phat said the agriculture sector was considered high-risk and vulnerable to price fluctuations, as well as diseases and a shortage of natural resources.

To offset the risks, the Government has issued a number of policies to encourage businesses to invest in the agricultural sector, such as tax incentives and land rent discounts, while investing in infrastructure, he said.

On the subject of the Government's plan to buy one million tonnes of rice to hold in reserve to help farmers in Cuu Long ( Mekong ) Delta provinces, Phat said the move would help to stabilise prices in a volatile market.

He stressed the Government had also invested in upgrading irrigation works and research on new rice varieties to boost yields and quality.

Phat also said the Government had implemented measures to protect forests against illegal logging although there had been a marked decline in deforestation across the country over the last few years, particularly in the Central Highlands.

He also said the Government had asked his ministry to implement policies that would encourage local people to protect forestry land. -VNA