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NGO roundtable discusses agricultural trade

A roundtable titled “National Consultation on Vietnam’s Agricultural Trade” was held in Hanoi on February 16, with representatives of VPDF, other NGOs, research institutions and government agencies taking part. Co-sponsored by the Vietnam Farmers’ Union (VNFU) and the Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), the discussions were to collect inputs for upcoming regional events, including the ASEAN People’s Forum later in the month in Thailand.

In her keynote presentation, AFA researcher Riza Bernabe remarked that Vietnam’s ranking as a producer of selected agricultural goods had greatly improved over the last decade, and the country now had a positive agricultural trade balance. But, despite impressive agricultural growth, rural poverty remained high, she said. In conditions of economic globalization and the current global financial crisis, efforts should be made to protect small farmers from being too dependent on export markets and ensure their food security at the houshold level, she emphasized.

Speakers noted that the global financial crisis was impacting adversely Vietnamese farmers, e.g. in relation to the export of coffee, aquaproducts and perishables. In addition to the quickly shrinking agricultural land and growing rural unemployment, this was resulting in a reduction of rural purchasing power, which would in turn impair efforts to stimulate the domestic market, they said.
For a future program of action, participants suggested notably the dissemination among farmers of basic information related to international agricultural trade, and recommendations to government agencies for policy measures that could maximize export opportunities without sacrificing the country’s resource base (agricultural land preservation, environmental protection, etc.)./.






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