Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat has called for stricter control over farm produce imports, particularly their origin, to ensure all the goods meet food safety standards.

Concerning the quality of local farm produce, the minister instructed relevant agencies to adopt drastic measures to ensure food safety and hygiene at all stages.

He noted at an online workshop on the quality of agro-forestry and fisheries products on April 4 that it is essential to praise those who conform to regulations while punishing those who fail to do so.

Food safety and hygiene awareness among officials as well as farmers remains low while related regulations are not effective enough to stop violations.

In 2012, agriculture and rural development departments in 46 localities discovered 961 units violating regulations, accounting for 18.7 percent of the 12,000 trading and production sites inspected.

Inspectors found that 6.8 percent of samples inspected contained unacceptably high levels of pesticide.

The ministry punished more than 5,900 cases of violations last year with total fines of more than 10 billion VND (476,000 USD).

Most violations concerned the use of banned substances in cattle-feed and failure to provide a clean environment for aquaculture.-VMA