Opening a "big door" for Vietnam's agriculture

Wednesday, 2021-07-21 17:30:03
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Preliminary processing of longan products at the Van Ho Fresh Fruit and Herbal Processing factory, Son La province. (Photo: Dinh Tung)
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NDO - In order to develop agricultural commodities, linkage is an urgent demand, a vital condition, and at the same time will open a "big door" for Vietnam's agriculture to integrate deeply and widely into the global economy. How to promote and expand linkages in agricultural production in a sustainable and effective way is a difficult question.

Lesson 1: Change in mindset

In recent years, from actual needs, such as: linking to produce large quantities of agricultural products of the same quality and type, to meeting the orders of businesses; buying fertilizers, agricultural materials, animal feed in bulk and wholesale prices or the need to supply agricultural services, many farmers have come together forming cooperatives, cooperative groups and assembly halls, with very useful and effective results.

Assembly hall dreams of getting rich

Chairman of the Thuan Tam Assembly Hall (My Dong commune, Thap Muoi district, Dong Thap province) Nguyen Van Thuan shared that every month, 40 members of the assembly hall gather to discuss business, through which farmers can make very close connections.

They buy agricultural materials to get preferential prices, and together sell large quantities of agricultural products to meet the needs of buyers. Thanks to joining the assembly hall, they have a greater vision in linking agricultural product consumption with business.

At present, the assembly hall is not only a voluntary organisation of farmers, but has attracted many businessmen and intellectuals. It can be considered a "common home" of people who share the same ideals, dreams and ambitions for the agricultural development of their homeland. Participating in the model, farmers have the chance to be trained in production, and to meet scientists, industry leaders, and provincial leaders. These exchanges have "inspired" farmers to initially switch from thinking about agricultural production to agricultural economics.

The assembly hall is a unique model that connect the farmers of Dong Thap. The first assembly hall was established in An Nhon commune, Chau Thanh district in June, 2016, named the Canh Tan Assembly Hall, gathering farmers from the hamlet, voluntarily coming to meet, exchange and share experiences in the spirit of understanding and working together, aiming to build a cohesive community, supporting each other in both production and life.

The assembly hall is expected to help farmers get out of the "trap" of small, fragmented, spontaneous production. So far, Dong Thap has more than 110 assembly halls operating in association with each specific industry of the locality, creating a new trend in production cooperation, serving as a foundation for development and improving the quality of the collective economy. Notably, there have been 22 new-style cooperatives formed from the foundation of the assembly hall model. This is a clear mark for positive change in the cooperation - production linkage.

The Truong Tien Cooperative (Chieng Ban Commune, Mai Son District, Son La Province) has linked with farmer households to plant 416 hectares of oranges. (Photo: THUY ANH)

Voluntary cooperatives

This year's mango crop in Son La province is seeing low prices. But according to Nguyen Van Bang in Nong Xom village, Hat Lot commune, Mai Son district, people are not worried about stockpiling or being pressured by traders. The entire mango growing area has been purchased by the Thien Tan Cooperative at a price guaranteed to be profitable.

Nguyen Ba Tuan, Director of the Thien Tan Cooperative (Hat Lot commune, Mai Son district), said the cooperative was established in June 2018 with seven members with a completely voluntary spirit; organising mango production with a common process, the consent of all participating members: buying agricultural materials together, using common care methods and quality standards; while the cooperative consumes all the products.

Up to now, the province has 641 agricultural cooperatives, an increase of 522 as compared to 2016. The Bich Thao Son La Coffee Cooperative currently has 11 members, with more than 30 hectares of coffee growing area. Cooperative members contribute capital in cash and the value of land use rights. The cooperative also cooperates with 1,500 farmer households across an area of more than 2,000 hectares. Accordingly, the cooperative signs an association contract with the households, ensuring the purchase of products at a higher price than on the market, provided the households grow, care for and harvest coffee carefully, closely monitored by cooperative representatives.

Nguyen Xuan Thao, Director of the Bich Thao Son La Coffee Cooperative, said: “Currently, the cooperative's coffee products are present in 40 provinces and cities across the country; and a number of deep-processed products have been exported to the EU and the US.”. Recently, a number of Japanese businesses have also come to the cooperative to analyze and test the quality of coffee for purchase.

In addition to coffee, Son La currently has many fruit and vegetable cooperatives operating effectively, bringing high incomes to farmers. Thanks to the strong development of cooperatives, the province has attracted many agricultural product processing factories, with 50 establishments and export processing agricultural products.

In Lam Dong province, Sunfood Da Lat General Agricultural Service Cooperative (Sunfood Dalat CO.OP) is leading the province in effectively deploying supply chain linkages in agriculture, with 120 members on an area of 70 hectares. The operation process of the Sunfood Dalat CO.OP is closed input – output, stable and continuously developing. Producers are provided by the cooperative with agricultural materials, plant varieties, and care techniques according to VietGAP standards.

The cooperative has contracts with households, covering all harvested products at a stable price. The cooperative was granted the brand name "Da Lat - Magical crystallization from good soil", supplying the market with 120 products such as VietGAP standard vegetables, specialty products, fruits and Da Lat flowers. Up to now, the output market has expanded to 200 stores, supermarkets and enterprises in 35 provinces and cities nationwide.

Pham Ngoc Thach, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the cooperative, affirmed: The cooperative calculates in detail with each member what kind of crops will be planted, how much profit will result from each area; if it is not enough the cooperative will compensate people, so they just follow the process that we set out to ensure a stable income.

In the Red River Delta region, the cooperative model is also thriving in many localities. The province of Hung Yen currently has 322 agricultural cooperatives; of which many cooperatives have effective linkages such as: the Ne Chau longan cooperative, Hong Nam commune, Hung Yen city; General service cooperative in Viet Hung commune, Van Lam district; and Duc Thang Agricultural Service and Breeding Cooperative, Tien Lu District.

According to Nguyen Van Trang, Deputy Director of Hung Yen Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, linking the production and consumption of products at cooperatives in the area plays an important role in the formation of large-scale agricultural commodity production areas associated with preliminary processing.

Notably, in the current context of fierce competition, if agricultural products have large volume, meet quality standards, and are delivered on time, the opportunities for growth are immense.

Meanwhile, in Hai Duong, in 2020, the province coordinated to organise production, supply input materials and sell products at seven cooperatives, with a total area of 164 hectares for three products: potatoes, cabbage and cucumber.

From the story of the association to the attraction of the cooperative, it can be seen that there has been a change in the farming mindset, initially farmers knew how to gather together, produce together, towards stability and enrichment from agriculture.

(To be continued)