For many years, the Vietnamese agricultural sector has had a lot of potential but remained unattractive to domestic and foreign investors, said the Vietnam Economic News.

Statistics of the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) showed that as of February 2014, Vietnam attracted 16,053 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects totaling 234.703 billion USD in registered capital in 18 sectors.

Of these, the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sector attracted 502 projects with a total registered capital of 3.361 billion USD, accounting for 3.12 percent of all projects and 1.43 percent of all registered capital.

FDI in the agricultural sector decreased yearly from 87 million USD in 2012 (accounting for 0.66 percent of all FDI that Vietnam attracted in the same year) to 86 million USD in 2013 (0.39 percent of the total).

Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh said at a conference sponsored by the Ministry of Planning and Investment that the agricultural sector even did not attract domestic investors.

Talking with the Vietnam Economic News, former Director of the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) Phan Huu Thang admitted that FDI in the agricultural sector remained humble.

Agriculture is a potential area in Vietnam, 70 percent of Vietnam's population lives in rural areas and 50 percent of the population lives on agriculture. The country is number one rice exporter in the world, second largest coffee exporter and the world's third largest rubber exporter. Vietnam's Tra fish is exported to many countries around the world.

Speaking at a seminar on the Republic of Korea's Knowledge Sharing Programme that took place in early March 2014, professor, Dr. Yong - Taek Kim from Chonnam University recognised the huge potential of Vietnamese agriculture and affirmed that Vietnamese agriculture is highly capable of international competition based on exports.

Many incentives for businesses investing in the agricultural sector were implemented. After Decree 61/2010/ND-CP on attracting investment in agriculture and rural areas in 2010 was issued, in December 2013 the Prime Minister issued Decree 210/2013/ND-CP on encouraging enterprises to invest in agriculture and rural areas.

According to the above-mentioned decrees, investors in the agricultural sector can be freed from paying the land use tax and land and water surface rent and have their vocational training, advertisement and fair and exhibition participation costs supported by the state. Despite this, investment in agriculture did not improve.

Associate professor, Dr. Bui Tat Thang, Director of the Development Strategy Institute of the Ministry of Planning and Investment said that investment in the agricultural sector is risky due to natural disasters, epidemics and climatic conditions so investors are reluctant to invest in the sector.

According to economist Pham Chi Lan, Vietnam's agriculture has great potential but policies to attract investment in the agricultural sector need to be improved.-VNA