Organic farming has great potential in VN: experts

Thursday, Dec 28, 2017 08:45

Delegates look at organic products on display on the sidelines of the First National Forum on Organic Agricultural Development held in HCM City on December 27. — VNS Photo

Viet Nam holds great potential for organic farming as more consumers, particularly those with high incomes, have demand for such products, experts have said.

Speaking at the First National Forum on Organic Agricultural Development held on December 27, Vu Kim Hanh, chairwoman of the High Quality Vietnamese Product Business Association, said demand for organic products has increased significantly both in Viet Nam and globally, and this offers great potential for farmers and businesses investing in the field.

Hanh said that global organic product revenues (food and beverages) had surged from US$15.2 billion in 1999 to $28.7 in 2004, and more than $81.6 billion in 2015, with the US, Germany and France the largest markets for organic products.

Organic market revenue in Viet Nam is estimated to be at VND3 trillion ($132.15 million) a year, with spending for such products in the north higher than that in the south, she said.

Organic products are sold in supermarkets like Co.opmart and Lotte Mart, shops, websites and on Facebook.

Most organic products are imported while most locally made organic products are mainly food and spices, she said.

Vo Hoang Anh, private label director at Saigon Co.op, which supplies USDA certified organic vegetables, rice, shrimp and fish, said "There is great demand for organic products."

Noting that the supermarket has been short of organic fruits, vegetables and rice, he said: “Saigon Co.op would to like to tie up with other producers that have organic certificates to ensure supply and good prices.”

According to the Viet Nam Organic Agriculture Association (VOAA), the organic farming area in Viet Nam has been increasing, reaching about 77,000 hectares in 2016, 3.6 times higher than it was in 2010.

Currently, 33 out of the country’s 63 provinces and cities have organic farming models, with many offering high economic efficiency and higher incomes for farmers, contributing to agricultural restructuring.

Though it is modest compared to the total farming area, businesses and organisations are applying international organic standards and certified organic products are being exported to many markets, including the US and EU.

Organic agriculture offers advantages such as no pesticide residue, higher value of the products, and greater likelihood of being accepted in choosy markets.

But companies in the field also face challenges, including high investment costs. In addition, there is no domestic certification organisation for organic products and growers have to depend on foreign organisations.

New policies, standards

Vietnamese standards for organic products should be developed, participants said.

Hanh said the Government should have new policies to promote the development of organic farming and should support brand and market development for products.

The Government should also offer incentives for businesses to invest in producing organic fertiliser, bio-fertiliser, microorganisms and biological botanical products, she said.

Le Quoc Phong, deputy chairman of the VOAA and general director of Binh Dien Fertiliser Joint Stock Company, head of the forum’s organisation board, said: “Organic farming needs large scale and stable land areas to help producers feel secure about investing in improving soil and infrastructure development.

“The Government should have a zoning plan for organic farming for certain priority products, and also a suitable land allocation policy,” he said.

Organic farming requires a large amount of organic fertilisers to meet nutritional demands of plants. There is an urgent demand for technology that produces high quality and "clean" organic fertilisers, Phong said.

Participants at the meeting recommended policies that would encourage organisations and individuals to become involved in organic production.

These include exemption or reduction of income taxes and incentives in land leases, all of which would reduce production costs.

They agreed that a roadmap is needed to shift from existing agricultural practices to organic farming with strict standards, although non-organic farming would continue to play a key role in ensuring food security.

A joint effort from the Government, businesses and farmers is also necessary, they said.

Organised by the Viet Nam Organic Agriculture Association and Binh Dien Fertiliser JSC, the forum also included discussions on raw materials and harvesting, preservation and processing of organic farm produce. — VNS

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