According to Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the agriculture sector faced many difficulties and challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which directly affected production and export, import and consumption of agricultural products.
The combined efforts of the Party, the National Assembly, the Government, the Prime Minister, localities, the business community and farmers helped the agriculture and rural development sector realize dual goals, both increasing growth and effectively combating the pandemic.
As a result, the sector’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.65 percent, total export turnover reached US$41.25 billion, over 62 percent of communes achieved the status of new-style rural communes, forest coverage rate reached 42 percent, rural residents’ annual income reached VND43 million per capita.
In terms of cultivation, the crop structure was converted more efficiently by promoting intensive farming and application of advanced science and technology, especially for key crops, and controlling and increasing the use of new and high quality seed varieties. Rice production output reached 42.7 million tonnes, not only fully meeting the demand for domestic consumption but also meeting the needs of processing for animal feed and export. In particular, high-quality rice accounted for over 85 percent of exported rice, raising the average export price from US$440 per tonne in 2019 to US$496 in 2020.
The year 2020 saw a restructuring of the agricultural sector, improved production scale and level and a strong shift to commodity production on the basis of each region’s advantages. Notably, the consumption market for agricultural, forestry and fishery products continued to develop, and the domestic market was expanded significantly.
Nine commodity groups maintained an export turnover of over US$1 billion, with five recording a turnover of over US$3 billion, including timber and wood products, shrimp, vegetables, cashew nuts and rice. Progress was also reported in the national program on new rural construction. So far, 173 district-level units in 50 provinces and cities under the central government, an increase of 61 district-level units compared to the end of 2019, and three provinces including Nam Dinh, Dong Nai and Hung Yen have been recognized for completing the task of building a new countryside. Nine other provinces and cities are completing procedures to be recognized as completing the task.
PM points to shortcomings
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc noted that Vietnam’s agriculture adapted well to the pandemic and natural disasters. Agricultural production not only ensured domestic supply, it also met export requirements. In addition, the Prime Minister praised the agriculture and rural development sector for achieving four important targets assigned by the Party and the State – growth, increased export value, greater forest cover and development of a new countryside.
The Prime Minister also pointed out shortcomings, chief among them limited sustainability of agricultural sector growth due to inadequate infrastructure, small-scale production and fierce international competition. He referred to the continued gap between the rich and the poor, especially in the construction of a new countryside.
The Prime Minister urged the MARD to seize the opportunities provided by the major trade agreements Vietnam has signed. He also called on the ministry to remove the institutional barriers for the agricultural sector, first of all on the Land Law, and continue to find markets to stabilize sales.
In order to achieve the goals, the Prime Minister called for suitable mechanisms and policies to facilitate agricultural development and continue to improve the quality of agricultural restructuring associated with growth model innovation. At the same time, it is necessary to promote scientific and technological research, the application of high technologies and digital technologies, forming a smart agriculture, improving productivity, quality and value, he said.
Phuc also suggested that in 2021, the MARD strives to keep the sector’s GDP growth rate at about three percent, and the growth of agricultural, forestry and fishery production value at over three percent. Besides, the export value of agricultural, forest and aquatic products is projected to reach US$44 billion, forest coverage rate to remain at 42 percent. In particular, the country is striving to have 85 percent of its communes meeting new rural standards by 2025.