Bright prospects for Hoa Binh agricultural commodities in UK market

Saturday, Sep 10, 2022 09:47

Kim Boi's bamboo shoot products displayed on a shelf at a supermarket in Hoa Binh Province. — Photo courtesy of Kim Boi

As one of the leading provinces in the pursuit of clean agricultural production, Hoa Binh is witnessing growth of a number of products that meet the requirements of difficult markets such as Japan and the European Union (EU).

Therefore, it is very likely the mountainous province’s agricultural commodities will be on supermarket shelves in the UK, especially after the bilateral deal between the two countries, or the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA), took effect.

At the end of 2020, the People's Committee of Hoa Binh Province issued a decision approving the project "Development of export markets for key agricultural products in Hoa Binh Province in the 2020-2025 period," aiming at boosting growth and economic restructuring, and attracting investment in the province.

Developing export markets for key agricultural products will help accelerate the province’s agricultural export turnovers, and strengthen the reputation and position of Hoa Binh’s farm commodities and Vietnamese agricultural products in general.

Currently, the province has provided certifications for more than 4,000 ha of plants meeting food safety conditions, VietGap standards, and organic standards. Of which, 3,373 ha are for citrus fruit trees, 561 ha for vegetables, and 152 ha for other crops.

There are some typical models such as Skyfarm Co. in Luong Son District, which is specialised in exporting tomatoes; Truong Thinh High Technology Agriculture Investments, which plants cantaloupes; and Vietnam Organic Farm JSC in Lac Thuy District.

In addition, there are more commercial farms and cooperatives following VietGAP and food safety standards.

Statistics from the Hoa Binh Department of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that, until now, it has issued VietGAP and food safety certifications for over 1,940 fish cages and 22 livestock facilities. Particularly, three breeding facilities have cooperated with backyard farms to raise pigs in a closed-loop model and supply them to the market, with an output of about 19,500 tonnes of meat per year.

Speaking at the regular press conference of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in early September, Phung Duc Tien, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the industry continued to restructure and head toward extensive production.

"It is the agricultural economic thinking that has taken root in production, reflected in the fact that before the producer brought to the market what he had, now he is selling what the market needs," he said.

At the moment, many agricultural commodities of the mountainous province, like bananas, tea, bamboo shoots, and sugarcane, are not only to serve domestic demands but also to ship into other markets.

Last November, the mountainous province exported 10 tonnes of sugarcane to a partner in Hamburg, Germany. The batch of sugarcane products was produced by Tung Duong Agricultural and Forestry Service Cooperative in Tan Lac District.

Meanwhile, Kim Boi JSC exported more than 10 containers with a volume of about 280 tonnes of fresh bamboo shoots and dried vermicelli to numerous markets, worth more than VND100 billion (US$4.2 million), creating jobs for more than 100 local workers.

The company’s products, such as buds of bamboo shoots, ready-made bamboo shoots, sour bamboo shoots, or dried bamboo shoots, have been sold to many markets such as the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Angola.

These are positive signals for the province’s agricultural industry, as there are more high-quality agricultural products meeting fastidious market standards.

Son Thuy longan. — Photo courtesy of the Hoa Binh Centre of Science and Technology Application

In August, a tonne of fresh longan from Son Thuy Agricultural Service Cooperative, Xuan Thuy Commune, was shipped to Europe.

The National Office of Intellectual Property granted Son Thuy longan a collective trademark in 2016, followed by numerous food safety certificates in 2016, VietGap in 2019, and OCOP (One Commune-One Product) in 2020.

It is also the first product of the province to be granted a growing area code in 2019, which is considered a passport for the product to be officially exported to the international market, including the EU.

The Hoa Binh Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said that Son Thuy longan growers have strictly followed all the technical requirements set by the EU market for fresh fruit and vegetable products since 2019.

The results of the analysis at the EU-designated laboratory revealed that three samples of Son Thuy longan met 821 criteria of the EU's food safety inspection standards.

Even though the UK has left the EU and set its own conformity mark, the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA), meeting the requirements of the EU will very likely open a door for Hoa Binh Province's agricultural products in the UK market, especially after the UKVFTA.

Under the treaty, some Vietnamese agricultural commodities, including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, enjoy duty-free entry into the UK.

In August, Viet Nam exported $20 million worth of farm products to the UK, an increase of nearly 2.1 per cent year-on-year, according to a Viet Nam News calculation based on data from the General Department of Viet Nam Customs. For the first eight months of the year, the country shipped $171 million in agricultural commodities to the UK, up 33.1 per cent over last year. — VNS

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