“Vietnamese producers do this very well for exports, but in the domestic market consumers still face risks from unsafe food,” Pham Khanh Phong Lan, head of the Food Safety Management Board of Ho Chi Minh City, said.
In recent years, exports of Vietnamese farm produce have increased significantly year after year.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam earned US$36.37 billion from farm produce exports last year, a year-on-year increase of 13%. Fruits and vegetables alone fetched US$3.5 billion.
“To achieve these numbers, Vietnamese farm produce must satisfy international quality standards, so the country can show that it has high potential for producing safe food,” Lan said.
Producers still give priority to export products of good quality and distribute lower-quality products in the domestic market, she added.
The Government’s regulations and management policies still have loopholes for fraudulent businesses to thrive, she said.
Also, producers have had difficulties because consumers want to have both safe and beautiful products at cheap prices, she said.
Nguyen Thai Binh, director of Trung An Hi-Tech Farming JSC, said to produce safe products, producers should comply with Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGap) standards.
There is a lack of trust among consumers about safe products, he said. To win back trust, State management agencies must improve the control of the market and strictly deal with violations on food safety, he said.
Vu Kim Hanh, chairwoman of the High Quality Vietnamese Product Business Association, said experiences from many countries showed that in addition to businesses and farmers investing in production and trade and improving product quality, government agencies, business associations and scientists should offer help to producers so they can acquire food-safety certificates and promote their products at home and abroad.
This would help businesses and farmers save on costs and minimise risks when bringing goods to the market, she said.
Lan from the city’s Food Safety Management Board said HCM City had many practical programmes to develop safe food supply chains for domestic and export markets.
Developing co-operative models and supply chains towards ensuring food safety and creating favourable conditions for farmers and producers has been identified as one of the most important solutions, she added.
The co-operation model, with participation of businesses (ensuring outlets for products), cities and provinces (having land for producing safe food), and the association and the Food Safety Management Board of HCM City (for consulting, certifying and connecting farmers with businesses), will ensure a closed production chain as well as high consumption of safe food products.