The first safe agricultural products festival opened yesterday in Dong Thap Province's Cao Lanh City to help southern farmers find new markets for their products.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr Vo Mai, deputy chairwoman of the Viet Nam Gardening Association, said the festival was a tribute to the achievements in agriculture and rural economic development in the region, and demonstrated the close ties among the Government, scientists, businesses and farmers in sustainable agricultural production in the South.
| Customers shop for products at the safe agricultural products expo opened yesterday in southern Dong Thap Province's Cao Lanh City. There are about 250 stalls displaying the latest farming technology and equipment, organic and healthy agricultural products and seedlings, among other things. — VNS Photo Xuan Huong |
She said the fair would be an opportunity for farmers involved in growing fruit and vegetables, fish rearing and animal husbandry in 13 provinces and cities in the South to enter into long-term co-operation and investment agreements.
The theme of the festival is "Agriculture-Farmer-Rural Area".
There are about 250 stalls displaying the latest farming technology and equipment, organic and healthy agricultural products and seedlings, among other things. There will also be seminars on producing safe agricultural products.
"Consumers tend to require high standards when it comes to food safety. The application of GAP (agricultural production practice) standards will help consumers feel more secure when buying Vietnamese farm produce, especially fruit and vegetables," Mai said.
A number of localities had applied VietGap or GlobalGap standards in agricultural production, but more farmers needed to embrace the programmes, she said.
She also pointed out that the lack of awareness among consumers about VietGap-certification meant that farmers who applied these standards were losing out to those that produced fruit and vegetables and raised livestock more cheaply.
"Therefore the Government should quickly come up with a logo for products produced under VietGap standards," she said.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Van Duong, deputy chairman of the provincial People's Committee, said that despite difficulties caused by flooding and disease, agricultural production in Dong Thap Province had increased continually over the past few years due to better farming practices.
"The province is aiming to form large-scale commodity production areas to provide goods for export, including large-scale rice fields in Tam Nong, Thap Muoi and Thanh Binh."
The province is home to 500,000ha of rice cultivation, which yields 3.1 million tonnes a year, placing the region third in terms of rice production in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.
In addition, the province also has a large area given over to tra fish farming where GlobalGap standards are applied, providing the market with about 350,000 tonnes of catfish a year.
Agricultural production would continue to be a key economic sector in the province in the coming years, Duong said, adding that he hoped the agricultural fair would encourage more businesses to form relationships with farmers in Dong Thap.
Organised by the Viet Nam Gardening Association and Rural Economy newspaper, together with Dong Thap Province, the fair will run until April 20.
The association, which was established in 1986, has helped farmers boost production under the garden-pond-pigsty model over the past few years.
In co-operation with provincial departments of agriculture and rural development, the association has organised training courses for farmers on the application of GAP standards, as well as instructing them on better production techniques.