Vegetables stacked on shelves at the Aeon Supermarket in Long Biên District, Hà Nội. – VNS Photo Thái Hà

Viet Nam News - HÀ NỘI – The domestic agriculture industry should be restructured and made more transparent to develop clean food products, experts said at a seminar on developing clean food held yesterday in Hà Nội.

At the seminar, Trương Đình Tuyển, formerly trade minister, said demand for clean food had increased in the local market because experts had given warnings about the quality of food.

State agencies had fined people using banned chemical products to feed poultry, cattle and fisheries and to grow fruit and vegetables, but the State could not inspect all the tens of millions of business households and inspections alone could not completely solve the problem of food quality, Tuyển said.

“The most important thing is to restructure the agricultural industry to comprehensively solve food quality problems”, he said.

In the process of international integration, Việt Nam still has food that does not reach the standards of the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), so local firms cannot take full advantage of free trade agreements with foreign partners to export food products, according to Tuyển. Urgent measures are needed to produce clean food not only for export, but also for domestic consumption.

Tuyển proposed a comprehensive restructuring of the agricultural industry. The industry would become multi-functional to ensure food safety and security, create ecological regions and protect the health of the people. The agricultural sector would become the industry for producing clean rice, food, fruit and vegetable products.

To restructure successfully, the agricultural industry should focus on land and the application of science and technology, he said.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vũ Văn Tám, said to transport safe food to customers, one of the important things was to enhance the connection between enterprises producing clean and safe food products and consumers.

In addition, the seminar was a chance for the ministry to collect opinions on the development of clean food products and it would then review policies and mechanisms to encourage investment in enterprises that produce clean food products, Tám said.

Meanwhile, TH Group Chairwoman Thái Hương said the most important thing in developing clean foods was transparency and fair competition in the local market.

She said existing sanctions were not strong enough to stop violations in developing food, fruit and vegetable products.

For the dairy industry, it was expected that the State would soon have standards for dairy products and all information about the standards must be written on dairy product labels. That would help customers choose clean products.

She also said the State should reform policies to encourage enterprises to invest in technology in the agricultural industry to produce more safe food products because existing policies were not suitable and had not encouraged investment from enterprises in agriculture.

The seminar was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Soha News, and attracted more than 500 participants and experts from state offices and enterprises.

Weeks for safe farm products

In another development, the HCM City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has deferred its plans to operate a regular market selling safe farm produce two weeks per month.

It has also decided to change the market’s location from its premises at 176 Hai Bà Trưng to Đông Hồ Restaurant, at 195-197 Cao Thắng Street in District 10.

So far 27 businesses have registered to take part in the market to be held on the first and third weekends of each month, eight of them producers and traders of poultry, pork and seafood products, and the rest fruit and vegetable businesses.

At a meeting on August 16, Nguyễn Văn Trực, deputy director of the department, said the products sold at the market would meet VietGap (Vietnamese good agriculture practices) and GlobalGap standards or belong to the city’s safe food chain.

The department would inspect the production processes of suppliers as well as do random tests of produce sold in the market, he said.

The fair would help producers of safe farm produce promote their products and serve as a trustworthy place for people to buy safe food, he added. — VNS

Keywords: agriculture, clean food, food safety, agricultural industry, local markets, economy, Vietnam