Farmers in Kien Xuong district of Thai Binh province harvest rice (Photo: VNA)

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat has warned of slow implementation of Prime Minister’s Decision 68/2013/QD-TTg on support policies to reduce post-harvest losses in agriculture. 

Currently, the focus is only on low efficiency rice due to a lack of synchronous measures, he said during a conference to review the realisation of the decision in Hanoi on July 28.

The minister held that losses in rice production come from the process of selecting various varieties, harvest, transport, drying, husking, and storing. However, he said, attention has only been paid to the harvest and storage processes.

Decision 68/2013/QD-TTg was issued as part of the efforts to implement Resolution 48/NQ-CP on mechanisms and policies to reduce post-harvest losses of farm produce and aquatic products.

According to the Department of Agro-forestry-fishery Trade, Processing and Salt Industry, over the past five years, the resolution has helped speed up mechanisation in agricultural production, especially in rice cultivation and harvest, resulting in higher productivity.

In the Mekong Delta region particularly, combine harvesters have been used in 76 percent of the total rice areas and up to 98 percent in some localities, helping reduce losses to 2 percent from 5-6 percent.

Thanks to support policies, farmers have purchased machines and equipment serving production, processing and storing of agro-forestry and fishery products.

However, deputy head of the department An Van Khanh said mechanisation growth has yet to meet requirements for post-harvest loss reduction. Although losses in rice post-harvest have been reduced, they remain high compared to those of vegetables, aquatic products and sugar.

He held that the number of farmers with access to the policies is low while interest rate of loans for farmers remains high at 8.55 percent per year.

A report by the State Bank of Vietnam showed that by July 30, total lending capital in the programme had reached 3.47 trillion VND (159 million USD) with outstanding loans of 2.44 trillion VND (111 million USD), up 32 percent from that of December 31 last year.

However, the report held that the figures remain low due to limitations in preferential policies for types of machines and equipment designed for post-harvest loss reduction.

Therefore, Minister Cao Duc Phat asked for regulation adjustments towards the expansion of types of agricultural machines and equipment receiving support.

He also pointed out that only 2 of 13 measures to realise Resolution 48 have been institutionalised with a lack of support for enterprises and research facilities in manufacturing and purchasing machines from other countries.

He also urged the Department of Agro-forestry-fishery Trade, Processing and Salt Industry to review the other 11 solutions and define responsibilities of relevant agencies in the slow implementation of the solutions.-VNA