Experts voiced their concerns over vulnerable farmers and agribusinesses that are likely to lose in their own home market as several free trade agreements effective early this year have stimulated fiercer competition.

The opinions were heard at a forum on agricultural businesses and cooperatives in Ho Chi Minh City on June 4.

Nguyen Lam Vien, General Director of dried fruit producer Vinamit Joint Stock Company, cited the fact that Chinese brokers have been taking advantage of local farmers without legal interventions by authorities.

Allegedly, the brokers produced false demand for a certain kind of agricultural product by offering to buy at relatively high prices, sending the farmers into a rush to plant or collect the products for them.

When a huge supply for the product was created, the Chinese brokers forced the farmers to reduce the prices, leading to major losses for the farmers.

A large number of farmers nationwide have fallen for the trick due to whopping profits and lack of market information.

For example, sweet potato was sold at around 15,000 – 16,000 VND (0.69 – 0.73 USD) per kilogramme in 2014. This year, it has shed more than half of its value last year to only 6,000 – 7,000 VND (0.27 – 0.32 USD) per kilogramme as growers suffered from China’s unusual orders.

Vinamit has purchased large quantities of unsold sweet potato when the growers were struggling to sell their crops since early this year, Vien said.

It is unfair that foreign traders can buy agricultural products in Vietnam without barriers while domestic firms have to pay taxes, he added.

He also suggested there should be tariff and non-tariff barriers alongside protection laws to shift the status quo, and agribusinesses should actively access foreign markets by satisfying technical standards of importers overseas.

At the forum, participants stressed the need for agricultural production restructuring as small-scale production is still vastly popular, despite its high costs. The connection between the government, agribusinesses, scientists and farmers in agricultural production and distribution should be strengthened in which farmers and businesses are key players, they proposed.

Some asked for a trading floor for domestic agricultural products, similar to a stock exchange or coffee exchange model, which facilitates a stable trading market for both local and overseas entrepreneurs.-VNA