Export turnover of major agricultural products falls 6.1% in first ten months.
If growth comes in at the estimated 2.21 per cent for 2015, 1.4 per cent lower than in 2014, agriculture will record its lowest growth rate for five years, according to an October report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
Exports for the year would be about $30 billion, the report added, or 96.7 per cent of the plan and less than the $30.86 billion recorded in 2014.
Agriculture grew 3.46 per cent last year thanks to a successful harvest, which means the 2015 result is unlikely to be higher, the Director of the Planning Department at MARD, Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong, predicted.
Short of targets
In the first ten months of the year export turnover for major agricultural products was some $11.51 billion, a 6.1 per cent decline year-on-year. Wood and forestry product exports were $5.74 billion, a 7.5 per cent increase year-on-year, while seafood exports reached almost $5.37 billion, a 17.7 per cent decrease.
The total export turnover of agricultural, forestry and fishery products in the first ten months was nearly $24.61 billion, 3.8 per cent lower year-on-year. The trade surplus for the sector was nearly $5.44 billion, a 31.6 per cent decline year-on-year.
Despite the decline in export turnover the result is much higher than the annual target of $21 billion set by the last National Congress of the Communist Party. Export turnover of several goods is expected to be over $1 billion, such as rice, coffee, rubber, pepper, cashew nuts, cassava, fruit, wood and wooden products, shrimp, and catfish.
Ms. Hong identified two reasons for the decline in agriculture growth. Firstly, the El Nino weather pattern has influenced crop planting and fisheries activities. Both fields have faced a range of difficulties and are major contributors to the agriculture sector.
Secondly, the USD has appreciated in many countries but the USD/VND exchange rate has remained relatively stable. The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) widened the exchange rate this year but the currency devaluation made in other countries has been wider, cutting into the competitive capacity of Vietnamese exporters.
Competition with other exporters has become fiercer, Ms. Hong said, especially with Thai and Myanmar over the last three years.
In the first ten months of the year the northern region harvested 835,600 ha of paddy fields, equal to 95.6 per cent of the last year’s harvest. In the southern region 1.971 million ha were harvested. Seafood exports were estimated at 550,000 tonnes in October, equal to 96.8 per cent of the figure in October last year.
Prohibited substances in agriculture products have become a hot issue, especially Salbutamol, which increases the meat content in cattle but can cause cancer. MARD said that the Ministry of Health (MoH) imported 68 tonnes of Salbutamol, but MoH said it was only 3.5 tonnes.
The Director of the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, Mr. Nguyen Nhu Tiep, said that MARD’s figures are based on information from many organizations.
Due to problems regarding prohibited substances in agriculture products, MARD has launched a strategy on food safety for this year and next year, conducting many more inspection and imposing greater sanctions on those found to be violating food safety regulations.