Overseas Vietnamese urged to give a hand with agricultural exports

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A farmer harvesting dragon fruit in Long An Province. Photo: Cong Han A farmer harvesting dragon fruit in Long An Province. Photo: Cong Han

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Officials have asked overseas Vietnamese to help find new markets for the country's export products which they say are capable of meeting international standards. 
Vietnamese farmers can produce rice, fruit, seafood and many other commodities at high quality, but they are mostly exporting raw materials now due to a lack of markets, said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat. 
“We need overseas Vietnamese to assist in the exporting of agricultural products,” he told entrepreneurs at a forum in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday. 
According to his ministry, Vietnam's agricultural productivity has improved significantly over the past years, particularly in the farming of rice and fish.
“Outputs can increase even more if there are big markets,” Phat said.
“While waiting for market expansion, we have recommended farmers not to increase cultivation area because it can lead to a drop in selling prices,” he added. 
Dinh Kim Nguyet, a Vietnamese Canadian, said fruit and vegetables are being sold at overseas markets at prices many times higher than in Vietnam. 
But to boost exports, Nguyet and other entrepreneurs said Vietnamese companies need to first focus on food safety. Transport costs should also be cut to bring down prices, they said. 
Vu Thi Mai, a Vietnamese Russian, said that Russian people love tropical fruits but it is difficult to market products from Vietnam due to high transport costs, around US$6 per kilogram.
“For further expansion of Vietnamese agro products, we have to preserve their freshness for about three months for sea transport to reduce fees,” she said.
As a response, Phat said his agency was working with some Japanese companies to introduce new technologies for postharvest handling of crops.
“We have long been aware of Vietnam’s limits in postharvest technology. We are trying to solve it soon,” he said.
Phat also committed to cut red tape that hinders investment in Vietnam.
“It is our fault if you face difficulties and troubles in administrative procedures when investing in Vietnam. Please let us know about it and we can solve together.”

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