Export of agricultural products of Covid-19-hit localities faces difficulties

Ministries, industries, and enterprises have been seeking ways to boost domestic consumption to solve difficulties in the consumption of agricultural products of farmers in Covid-19-hit areas. However, the export of agricultural products through Hai Phong Port still encounters problems.

People in Hanoi buy agricultural products of Hai Duong Province. (Photo: SGGP)

People in Hanoi buy agricultural products of Hai Duong Province. (Photo: SGGP)

Supermarkets start selling agricultural products of Hai Duong Province

On February 23, Masan Group said that the retail networks VinMart and VinMart+ of this group had been actively participating in supporting the consumption of safe agricultural products for farmers in Hai Duong Province. Currently, VinMart and VinMart+ in the North were selling some agricultural products of Hai Duong, such as tomatoes, kohlrabi, carrots, cabbage, and guava without profits with expected consumption of about 70 tons per week. In pandemic-hit areas, namely Hai Duong and Quang Ninh provinces, VinMart and Vinmart+ had been prioritizing the implementation of the price stabilization program, promotions, and discounts of up to 40 percent for fresh products and essential foods. Particularly, the price of frozen basa fish fillet fell as much as 39 percent to only VND59,900 per kilogram; frozen squid declined by 21 percent to only VND109,900 per 500 grams; white radish dropped by 31 percent to only VND8,900 per kilogram; tomatoes sank by 22 percent to only VND9,900 per kilogram.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Bich Van, Head of Communications at Central Retail Vietnam, currently, the Big C and Go! supermarket chains of the group are promoting the consumption of agricultural products to support farmers in Hai Duong Province to reduce economic losses. Big C and Go! supermarkets are applying a promotional program for agricultural products of Hai Duong from now until the end of the crop, with expected consumption of about 70 tons per week.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Kim Dung, Director of Co.op Mart Hanoi, said that from February 22 to now, besides selling at supermarkets in the area, Co.op Mart Hanoi had also organized more stalls to rescue agricultural products of Hai Duong at 10 points of sale of the Hanoi Cooperative Union. It is estimated that the supermarket will compensate the costs to sell about 200-300 tons of agricultural products to support Hai Duong Province.

On February 23, the Vietnam Red Cross Society (VRC) Central Committee launched the campaign "Together with farmers to consume agricultural products" to assist people in difficult circumstances because of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The campaign has been implemented in 13 provinces and cities affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and will last until mid-March, with the peak focusing from February 24 to March 5.

Ms. Tran Thi Phuong Lan, Acting Director of the Department of Industry and Trade of Hanoi, said that the department had connected 32 commercial enterprises, 34 markets in Hanoi with 59 production facilities to purchase agricultural products from Hai Duong. At the same time, the department coordinates with the Department of Transport and the Hanoi Municipal Police Department to facilitate vehicles transporting agricultural products of farmers in Covid-19-hit areas to the city for consumption. Up to now, the affiliated units under the department have purchased and consumed more than 400 tons of agricultural products.

It is recorded at the MM Mega Market Vietnam supermarket chain that the network has put on sale agricultural products of farmers in Hai Duong Province from February 22 in Hanoi, with a volume of about 5-6 tons per day and is expected to also sell them in Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh cities in the next 1-2 days. In HCMC and the Central Vietnam markets, it is expected that there will be two rescue shipments each week with a total volume of about 70 tons.

Suggesting Hai Phong City opening doors for agricultural exports

According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Hai Duong Province, although many localities have been actively supporting Hai Duong farmers to consume agricultural products in the domestic market, the province still has about 90,000 tons of onions, garlic, carrots, and leafy vegetables remained unsold because it is in the harvest time. For many years, agricultural products raised and grown in Hai Duong are under contracts between enterprises and farmers, mainly for export. It is expected that by the end of February, about 80 percent of agricultural products will be exported through Hai Phong Port to Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, according to the signed contracts and shipping schedules.

However, at present, agricultural products, foodstuffs, and raw materials for the production of enterprises in Hai Duong Province face difficulties in the stage of transporting and commuting from Hai Duong to Hai Phong Port. Specifically, although Hai Phong City has allowed goods from Hai Duong to be transported into Hai Phong from February 18, it requires strict conditions. For instance, drivers of vehicles transporting goods from Hai Duong must have negative test results for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the last three days and have to stay under concentrated monitoring. Cargo trucks must have specific contracts and orders and be disinfected. These requirements have caused many cargo trucks from Hai Duong to Hai Phong to turn around.

From February 16 up to now, the competent authorities of Hai Duong Province have continuously sent dispatches to relevant ministries and agencies to request support. At the same time, the provincial People's Committee signed four official letters to Hai Phong City proposing it to create the best conditions for containers to carry goods, especially Hai Duong's agricultural products to Hai Phong Port for export. In particular, Hai Duong Province proposed that for goods carried by container trucks, the solution is to replace the trucks and drivers from Hai Duong with trucks and drivers from Hai Phong.

The dispatch sent by the Department of Transport of Hai Duong Province to the Ministry of Transport and the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam on February 22 also proposed a solution for trucks carrying agricultural products of Hai Duong. Accordingly, after disinfection, container trucks will go directly to the port for unloading goods, while drivers and co-drivers do not get off their trucks. After unloading, they will return to Hai Duong immediately.

Regarding this issue, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has sent a written dispatch to propose the Prime Minister to direct the Ministry of Health to provide unified guidance on the circulation of people, goods, and vehicles between pandemic-hit localities and other localities, avoiding the situation that each locality applies a different way as currently. At the same time, it should mobilize testing units to support Covid-19-hit provinces, ensuring maximum testing services for the needs of drivers and goods escorts in the shortest time, and lessening cargo traffic congestion. As for localities, the MoIT suggested that they should prioritize SARS-CoV-2 virus testing for drivers and goods escorts, at the same time, strictly comply with the Prime Minister's directive on the implementation of measures to support goods circulation, and not let the situation of freight ban take place in the area.

By Van Phuc, Quoc Khanh – Translated by Bao Nghi

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