Investment Needed To Turn Harvest Local
By Trung Chanh
Of the total 6,600 combine harvesters in the Mekong Delta, foreign machines, mostly from China and Japan, make up a very large portion, dwarfing local counterparts as investment in the domestically-made machines is still modest
“I’ m willing to spend even a half billion dong to own a quality harvester with warranty, rather than buying a cheap one with poor quality,” stated Nguyen Van Tung in Binh Phong Thanh Commune, Moc Hoa District, Long An Province, owner of a Kubota-brand combine harvester.
In recent years, harvesters have become been more and more popular to farmers in the Mekong Delta. However, due to their low quality, assorted components and unsatisfying warranties, consumers have become less confident in the locally-made machines.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, there are over 6,600 combine harvesters and 4,600 other harvesters in the Mekong Delta, meeting only 40% of the demand for rice harvest. However, over a year to date, other harvesters have been neglected, as farmers now prefer selling paddy right on their fields, and such harvesters cannot satisfy this demand.
Of the total of more than 6,600 combine harvesters, the machines made in China and Japan make up a very large portion, overwhelming the local ones as investment in the domestically-made machines is still modest. Phan Thanh Tinh, rector of the Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Post-Harvest Technology, said: “Rice is Vietnam’s strength, but investment in rice farming in general and in harvest mechanization in particular has yet to receive due attention. Vietnamese farmers have preferred Japanese Kubota harvesters thanks to their high quality, appropriate to local soil, and efficient after-sale services. But I think this is something within our reach.”
Vietnam’s combine harvester manufacturing technology is estimated at only 60-70% of the world’s average, said Tinh. Therefore, if quality is taken into account, Vietnamese machines are much inferior to those produced in Japan and Korea, and even China.
In fact, Vietnam has many guidelines and policies on promoting investment in and use of domestically-made combine harvesters. For instance, the Prime Minister has issued a decision on amendments of and supplements to the supporting policies aimed at reducing post-harvest losses. The State will offer loans equal to 100% of values of locally-produced machines and equipment with local trademarks and the localization rate of over 60%. Also, interest is 100% free in the first two years and is 50% in the third year. However, due to the low quality of machines and unsatisfied warranties, farmers are willing to pay twice or even thrice to get foreign machines.
Tinh said: “Private enterprises have also engaged in the manufacturing of combine harvesters. However, because of their limited investment and sub-standard production lines, the machines they make have low quality.”
Investment a must to regain confidence
For consumers to use domestic combine harvesters, there must be appropriate investment policies and several pioneers in this field. Ngo Van Hung, owner of Hiep Hung, a combine harvester manufacturer in Binh Phong Thanh Commune, Moc Hoa District, Long An Province, said: “Our harvester manufacturing facilities have made gradual improvements, but are always left behind, or more exactly, lagging behind the overall development of the country. Investment policy is a must to encourage investment in this area. It is necessary to have an enterprise to undertake this task.”
Tinh said: “Compared to other types of investments, investment in agrimachines generates low profits, so it is not attractive enough to investors. Therefore, the State should have special support for enterprises which invest in combine harvester manufacturing research, such as special loan incentives or tax exemptions.”
Along with investment in production, development of maintenance facilities, replacement of genuine accessories and machine components is also an important requirement in the strategy for investment in agrimachines. By doing this, Vietnamese manufacturers will certainly win back the local agrimachines market, said Tinh.