Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong speaks at the meeting. (Source: VNA)

 Hanoi (VNA) – Though Vietnam is among the world’s top exporters of farming produces, 90 percent of the products are exported in the raw form with quality and value lower than many foreign rivals, said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong in a recent meeting.

Cuong voiced his concern at the International Support Policy (ISG) Plenary Meeting held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hanoi on December 11, focusing on the theme “Global Agricultural Value Chains: Promotion of Food Safety and Market Linkages”.

Vietnam has remained among the world’s top 15 agricultural suppliers with products shipped to 180 countries and territories. The country’s export of agricultural, forestry and seafood products reached 32 billion USD in 2016 and is likely to hit 36 billion USD this year.

But when sold in the global market, many of these products come under no brand names or foreign brands, the minister said, stressing that it is a major setback, hindering Vietnam’s effort to become more engaged in the global agricultural value chains.

The local agricultural industry has faced a number of issues, particularly small-scale production, inefficient use of inputs and resources and limited use of high technology. The processing sector has barely grown in recent years with just about 25-30 percent of agribusinesses possessing advanced processing technology.

Meanwhile, World Bank Director Ousmane Dione believed food safety poses the biggest challenge to Vietnam. The country still lacks sets of national standards for food safety as well as limited knowledge on the issue, he noted, adding that there are very few laboratories for food safety testing in Vietnam while monitoring programmes are not effective enough.

No single solution can ensure food safety but a comprehensive set of measures are needed and there should be more public investment in promotion of food safety, Dione said.

Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said Vietnam has been restructuring the agricultural sector between 2017 and 2020 with aims to improve quality, productivity and competitiveness of the country’s farming products and create better links between production and distribution towards sustainable development and an agriculture industry with high added value.-VNA