Vietnam's sugar industry development strategy in a muddle

The figures to which the agriculture ministry (MARD) has been using while drafting the sugar industry's development strategy are not sufficiently reliable.

MARD has decided that by 2020 the total sugar cane growing area would reach 300,000 hectares, while sugar cane output would be 21 million tons with average yield at 70 tons per hectare. 

The growing area would be unchanged by 2030, but the sugar cane output would increase to 24 million tons, as the average yield would be 80 tons per hectare.

Nguyen Hai, secretary general of the Vietnam Sugar Cane Association (VSSA), said MARD might consider the average yield now (64-65 tons per hectare, according to the ministry) when programming productivity for 2020 and 2030.
vietnam's sugar industry development strategy in a muddle hinh 0

However, Hai said that 64-65 tons per hectare is not a reliable figure. “The actual yield is low in Vietnam,” he said.

The sugar cane yield is very high in some areas. In Phung Hiep district of Tien Giang province, for example, farmers can harvest nearly 100 tons per hectare, while in Tay Ninh province, the figure could be 75 tons per hectare. However, the yield is very low in the northern and central regions.

Hai doesn’t think MARD referred to Thailand’s average yield when programming the industry development for Vietnam. He said the sugar cane average yield in Thailand is 65 tons per hectare, not 70-80 tons per hectare, as some sources said.

Le Van Banh, head of the Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Processing and Salt Production Department, said that, considering Thailand’s production, it is necessary to learn about its ‘technology map’, cultivation techniques, varieties, productivity and product quality, and figure out where Vietnam is on the world’s production map. 

“We need to know where we are to figure out plans and measures to implement the development program in 2016-2020 and after 2020,” he said. 

As the data based on which MARD is drafting the development program is believed to be unreliable, Vu Huyen Duc, deputy chair of VSSA, speaking at a conference to review the 2016-2017 sugar cane crop, asked the plan compiler to revise the program.

A report shows that Thailand’s sugar productivity increased sharply from 6 million tons in 2000 to 11 million tons in 2015-2016 crop. This means that after 15 years, the country’s sugar output increased by 5 million tons. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s output increased by 500,000 tons during the same time, from 700,000 tons to 1.2 million tons.

Many experts have shown concern about the slow development of the sugar industry, saying that the protection policy has made the industry less competitive, with the production cost 30%-40% higher than the average level in the world.


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