ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Food safety crucial for Vietnamese produce's reputation abroad
Foreign markets, especially Trans-Pacific Pảtnership (TPP) agreement members, will take in Vietnamese fruit and vegetables this year, but the question now is how to supply enough volume while following strict safety standards, an official said.
Fruit and vegetables are among the commodities Vietnam has an advantage in when it comes to the TPP. They made inroads into many demanding markets in 2015, including major TPP members like the US, Japan and Australia .
One of the most critical factors in Vietnam's export of fruit and vegetables is to control chemical residues.
Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Plant Protection Department Nguyen Xuan Hong said his agency will tighten control over the use of plant protection chemicals this year while encouraging the use of advanced technology to reduce the need for those substances.
Eliminating the use of protective chemicals will help minimise not just production expenses, but also food risks due to pesticide residue, he said, noting that Vietnam aims to cut the spending on plant protection chemical use by half by 2020.
Though the country has sent many kinds of fruit abroad, including dragon fruit, mango, lychee and longan, to many strategic markets like the US , Japan and Australia , the point is to produce large quantities to improve revenue – while meeting importers' food safety and plant quarantine standards, Hong stressed.
He assured Vietnamese exporters that his department will be able to help them treat products in line with importers' health quarantine criteria. All businesses need to do is ensure food safety through good agricultural practices.
He suggested multiplying good cultivation role models and increasing coordination between enterprises and farmers as well as among enterprises themselves, noting that if a product from one company does not pass quarantine checks, importing countries will stop buying the same goods from all Vietnamese firms.
The poor performance of one company will affect the entire exporter community, the official emphasised.
According to the General Statistics Office, Vietnam grossed 2.2 billion USD selling fruit and vegetables abroad in 2015, a record annual increase of 47 percent.
The country is home to more than 100 fruit and vegetable processing factories, which can produce 300,000 tonnes of products each year. Vietnam exports fruits and vegetables to 40 countries and territories.
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