Vietnam needs to enhance public investment in food safety: WB official

Monday, 2017-12-11 18:30:46
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At the ISG Plenary Meeting 2017.
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NDO – Vietnam needs to develop a master set of measures to ensure food safety, whilst strengthening public investment in food safety institutions, Ousmane Dione, Country Director of the World Bank (WB) in Vietnam, has recommended.

The WB expert made the suggestion at the International Support Group (ISG) Plenary Meeting 2017 in Hanoi on December 11, an annual meeting held by the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to exchange experiences and policies on agricultural and rural development with international donors.

Vietnam’s farm produce has been participating well in the global value chain, with many products registering high export values, such as coffee, pepper, seafood, and fruits and vegetables, Dione said.

Hailing food safety as the toughest challenge currently facing Vietnam, he stated that the country still lacks standards and knowledge on food safety, while the capability of food safety testing laboratories remains limited and relevant supervision programmes have yet to work effectively.

Although the number of ministries and sectors in charge of food safety management has already been cut to just three, overlaps remain in Vietnam’s legal documents concerning food safety management, the official shared.

He affirmed that the international community is willing to share experiential knowledge with Vietnam,in ensuring food safety as well as standards on food safety.

Addressing the meeting, MARD Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong stated that Vietnam’s agricultural products have been exported to 180 countries and territories around the world.

Vietnam is always among the top 15 biggest exporters of farm produce, with agro-forestry and fisheries export revenues reaching US$32 billion in 2016 and possibly hitting US36 billion this year, with ten groups of commodities registering over US$1 billion in export value, he said.

Cuong, however, frankly pointed out that despite being known as a “power” in terms of agricultural exports, Vietnam still exports up to 90% of its farm produce in the form of raw materials with low processing content, quality, and export value compared to other countries’ products of the same types.

Many of Vietnam’s farming products have been sold to the world market without any brands, or having to use foreign trademarks, which is a big disadvantage and seriously affects the process of joining the global value chain, he noted.

Vietnam is restructuring its agricultural sector from now until 2020, Cuong said, adding that the MARD has also identified the goals of increasing productivity, quality and competitiveness of farming products; associating production with consumption; and moving towards a modern agriculture of high added value and sustainable development in the global farm produce value chain.

Accordingly, the agricultural sector will continue to reorganise production in the direction of cooperation and connection within a closed value chain, while combining the production of raw materials with processing and consumption of products according to the value chain, connected to the global consumption system, the minister noted.

Focus will be put on developing the domestic and international markets, as well as distribution channels; ensuring that requirements are met on quality, food hygiene, and safety; building a strong brand step-by-step and actively negotiating to expand the export markets, he said.

Cuong also affirms the agricultural sector’s efforts to facilitate domestic and foreign businesses’ participation in implementing production linkage models and developing green agriculture; accelerate the finalisation of relevant policies and institutions; and mobilise social resources and promote investment in the form of public-private partnership (PPP) in developing agricultural and rural area infrastructure, thus meeting the requirements of large-scale commodity production.