|Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan.|
In order to maintain the achievements and create new higher values from that foundational achievement, it is necessary to have flexibility of the whole apparatus to adapt to unpredictable changes in the future.
As the newly-appointed Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the next 5-year term, how will you prioritize the tasks of agricultural development?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the supply was broken, the weather was extremely severe in a short time, especially in 2019-2020, the scarcity of water resources is increasingly clear in the Mekong River Delta, the agricultural sector is still developing, becoming the pillar for the economy. The targets assigned by the National Assembly for the entire sector have been reached and exceeded.
That achievement is both the foundation but also a pressure for the next 5-year term, because at that time the world has changed, the pandemic is complicated, the pressure of globalization after the Covid-19 pandemic has changed a lot; besides, climate change and extreme weather have become more severe.
In order to both keep the results of the previous term, create new values from that achievement, create higher values and reach the goal of going faster, it is necessary to have the flexibility of the whole apparatus to adapt to the change. Those may be changes that are hard to imagine.
Recently, a container ship stuck in the Suez Canal (Egypt) immediately impacted Vietnam. There are no containers to transport the goods, causing blockages of orders or rising product pricing. The deeper Vietnam’s economy integrates into the world economy, the more open and vulnerable the country is. Every change somewhere makes Vietnam’s economy, including the agricultural sector, vulnerable. Therefore, it is necessary to determine to be flexible to find solutions, based on forecasted risks in order to find ways to stand firm, not just give out simple planned numbers.
The 13th National Party Congress resolution clearly states that one of the national development orientations for the 2021 – 2030 period is the development of rural economy in association with building new countryside; prioritize resources for developing rural infrastructure in mountainous and ethnic minority areas. Can you tell us more about rural economic development?
The rural economy is a part of the overall agricultural restructuring program. In fact, the term “rural economy” appeared from the Party’s Resolution on agriculture, farmers and rural areas in 2008 but has received little attention. Currently, the 13th National Party Congress resolution has identified that rural economic development is an important goal and task, both for building a new countryside and for agricultural restructuring. That is the bridge between the restructuring of agriculture and the construction of a new countryside.
If the rural economy is developed, it will create materials to help build a new countryside and improve the quality of life of the people. At that time, farmers will perform the right role as a center and subject in the process of agricultural restructuring and new rural construction.
When it comes to agricultural restructuring, most of them think of relying on corporations and large enterprises to lead. However, the number of agricultural enterprises will not be enough to cover the agricultural sector. Vietnam has about 20,000 agricultural enterprises but several tens of millions of farming households.
These peasant households can be both agricultural farming households and participants in various forms of collective economic nature such as cooperatives or start-ups. Gathering those things from cooperatives, small and medium enterprises in rural areas and agricultural start-ups is the rural economy.
The rural economy is like an ecosystem as a stimulus and foundation to facilitate large enterprises to invest, which is the foundation to create a link from production to preservation, then preliminary processing, which can join businesses to change from thinking of agricultural production to thinking of agricultural economics.
What are the appropriate roadmaps and solutions to promote rural economic development in the future?
The first is a matter of thinking about rural economic development.
For a time, Vietnam’s agriculture only focused on large enterprises and investors in the agricultural sector, but for small and medium enterprises, there is still neglect, the cooperative model development is underestimated.
The issue of concern for large enterprises is very important, because only big enterprises can lead the market trend. However, each of them has the same role because it is an ecosystem. Thus, first of all, it is necessary to unify the important role of the rural economy, in which there are models that are rarely paid attention to.
Once consensus has been reached, it is necessary to redefine what is hindering the development of the rural economy in order to make recommendations on policies and stimulus mechanisms. For example, in the development of cooperatives, a few cooperatives have been formed recently, contributing a part in the link chain.
Cooperatives link the household economy to buy agricultural products of cooperative members, even those affiliated outside the cooperative, bring goods to the market through enterprises and traders. Thus, the cooperative can only take on a small part of the job, instead of depending entirely on traders, the cooperative buys and links to supply goods to the market. This is not the nature or the full model of the cooperative.
Cooperatives not only participate in the chain of links between production and consumption, but they must turn into participating in the value chain of an agricultural product and an agricultural region.
The chain is that if there is an agricultural product, the cooperatives will make underwriting, bring it to the market, it will still be that agricultural product, only different in the price.
However, when transformed into a value chain, that agricultural product will be classified, preserved, processed, deeper processed, and diversified.
The diversification of agricultural products with new technologies creates added value for agricultural; creating many jobs in the countryside. It is a rural economy.
Local authorities need to accompany farmers, not only walking beside them but also helping them to change their thinking in terms of production.
Thank you, Minister!