Many agricultural products have been ready for harvest, but due to a shortage of workers, many places have seen a large volume of agricultural products jammed and unsalable. The MoIT, on the afternoon of August 6, held an online conference to connect consumption and promote the export of agricultural, aquatic, and livestock products in the Southern region and the Central Highlands of Vietnam in 2021.
Difficulties in consumption piled up
According to the MoIT, from July this year, many localities have had to implement social distancing according to Directive No.16, especially in big cities, like Ho Chi Minh City and Southern provinces, as the Covid-19 pandemic developed complicatedly.
Localities must strengthen measures to control trade and transport activities of goods for pandemic prevention, so the consumption of agricultural products faces many difficulties and challenges, especially at the peak harvest of many fruits, such as longan, orange, mango, rambutan, and jackfruit.
In pandemic-hit areas with a high number of Covid-19 cases, traders and workers encounter many difficulties in moving between localities, so there are few or no traders.
Many livestock and poultry slaughterhouses and seafood processing establishments have had to close or operate in moderation because they lack laborers and veterinary staff. Traditional markets are closed, leading to difficulties in the consumption of livestock products.
Agricultural product manufacturing and processing enterprises that are not eligible for three-on-site production must stop operations to ensure pandemic prevention requirements, thus affecting the consumption of agricultural and aquatic products. Transportation of farm produce is costlier and more time-consuming than before the pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic is still developing complicatedly and spreading to many provinces and cities across the country. Importing countries have increased measures to control and quarantine Vietnamese agricultural and aquatic products, causing a sudden stagnancy in the consumption of exported goods, adding more pressure for inverse consumption in the domestic market. Meanwhile, many provinces and cities across the country have been applying social distancing measures to prevent and control the pandemic.
Due to the impact of the pandemic, the closure of large wholesale markets and traditional markets in Ho Chi Minh City has disrupted the supply and purchasing chain, significantly affecting the circulation and consumption of agricultural and aquatic products of the provinces and cities in the South of Vietnam.
Agricultural products in abundance
According to the data of the MARD, currently, the output of commodity rice in the Southern region and the Central Highlands needs to be consumed about 3.7 million tons. The production of vegetables and 14 major fruit trees need to be consumed about 7.8 million tons, including 355,000 tons of mangoes, 563,000 tons of bananas, more than 1 million tons of dragon fruits, 246,000 tons of pineapples, 335,000 tons of pomelos, and 164,000 tons of rambutans. A volume of 112,000 tons of aquatic and seafood products, 76,000 tons of live pigs, 1,500 tons of chicken, and over 400 million poultry eggs needs connecting consumption.
At the conference, Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien said that to support the consumption of goods, agricultural, aquatic, and livestock products in the South and Central Highlands in the context of the complicated pandemic, localities need to urgently review each type of product to be consumed and put forward solutions for local consumption. The rest will coordinate with ministries, associations, enterprises, and agricultural product purchasing and distribution systems to organize market support.
According to the head of the MoIT, at this time, it is necessary to identify the domestic market as the main one. Besides, enterprises must continue to retain traditional export markets, such as the US, the EU, and Australia, and at the same time, take advantage to promote new potential markets in South Asia and East Asia with the spirit of not depending on a few markets to urgently consume existing agricultural products in the Southern and Central Highlands provinces.
The leader of MoIT also proposed to reopen traditional markets quickly and suggested that localities do not create their own regulations that cause difficulties and hinder the transportation and consumption of agricultural products of enterprises, at the same time, call on retail enterprises, groups, and distribution systems across the country to join hands to sell agricultural products to help farmers in the South and Central Highlands in the current context.
The MoIT commits to providing maximum support within its authority to businesses and will report to the Government to respond to proposals and recommendations of enterprises. However, the Minister of Industry and Trade said that while waiting for the Government's support, localities need to proactively remove difficulties and support businesses in purchasing and temporarily stockpiling rice and agricultural products to reduce pressure on farmers.
Vietnamese export goods are free of the SARS-CoV-2 virus
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said that many seafood and agricultural product processing enterprises in the Mekong Delta were facing difficulties because of a labor crunch. Many seafood factories had Covid-19 cases, so their operating capacity has been reduced to only 50 percent, while most workers have not been vaccinated.
To overcome difficulties caused by a shortage of workers for harvesting agricultural products in the South and Central Highlands, Minister Nguyen Hong Dien said that the MoIT reported to the Prime Minister and worked with the Ministry of National Defense to mobilize military forces to participate in supporting localities in harvesting and transporting agricultural products.
However, for export goods, localities need to have specific instructions on harvesting, processing, and preservation to ensure food safety requirements and meet procedures of preventing the spread of Covid-19 through goods.
At the conference, the Minister of Industry and Trade affirmed that Vietnamese export goods did not carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus as some sources stated. However, he suggested that there should be criteria and strict control on the process of harvesting, production, processing, preservation, and consumption to avoid this risk and ensure that Vietnamese export goods have clear origins and can be traced according to regulations.