(KTSG) – If we cannot be completely active in the virtual economy game, we can still become an indispensable piece of the real economy. Will agriculture play an important part in that goal?
From the story of durian
The door for Vietnam’s durian fruit to the Chinese market will continue to open even if this fruit achieves an export achievement of US$1 billion in 2023? Guangxi province – the first destination of about 90% of Vietnamese agricultural products exported to China ranks 19th in terms of GDP among the provinces of this neighboring country.
If this is the main consumption market, it is not a place where consumers are willing to pay the highest prices for the best quality products. If this is a transit point, say an experienced Vietnamese businessman at a conference on trade promotion to the billion-people market recently held, Vietnamese businesses have not actively researched to “sell at the place”. ” and we are “so focused on the road that we forget about the waterway”.
These weaknesses can all be overcome, so, in a positive way, the potential of Vietnamese agricultural products in general and durian fruit in particular in the Chinese market is still very large.
However, realizing this potential is a completely different story. Although durian export is currently a bright spot in the picture of Vietnamese agricultural products, it should be remembered that the negotiation for this fruit to be officially exported to China ended when this market changed the rules of the game.
The country of billions of people adjusted policies and regulations in the direction of placing higher requirements on imported food and agricultural products according to Orders 248, 249 and 259 and later, durian fruit was on the list of agricultural products. Products are officially exported to China, along with dragon fruit, longan, rambutan, mango, jackfruit, watermelon, banana, mangosteen, litchi, passion fruit, sweet potato and bird’s nest.
It should be further noted that in the above agricultural products, there was no miracle like with durian, the fruit in 2022 achieved an export turnover of US$ 421 million, an increase of 137% compared to 2021, according to the number data of the General Department of Customs.
Is it possible that the reason for the miracle lies in the fact that this is the first year this fruit is imported as planned and widely promoted by the partner? Or the reason lies in the God-given advantage for Vietnamese durian, which can be planted off-season to almost dominate the market in the last months of the year?
The forecast for export turnover in the first months of 2023 is very optimistic, but it is also necessary to frankly recognize the challenge for durian fruit that will exist from April, when Thailand and Malaysia respectively enter the harvest season.
Thai durian producers have been unrivaled in the Chinese market since 2020 with products accounting for about 40% of the Chinese market share. Malaysia has announced a plan to increase the area under durian cultivation by 5-10 times from 2020 to 2025, with the target of Chinese kings.
In the face-to-face competition, will the victory be in favor of Vietnamese businesses when we still do not have typical durian brands like Mon Thong of Thailand or Musang of Malaysia? And even when exporting officially, being forced to sell cheaply due to the risk of oversupply, even importers can cancel orders.
Durian has a big chance to win in the Chinese market if we focus on off-season production. However, in this scenario, how much will the planting area be, and what are the specific farming methods for the tree to bear fruit at the right time? And when Thai and Malaysian durians are in season, instead of the Chinese market, should they focus on exploiting the domestic market, which is ready to spend heavily on durian?
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development recently had to warn about the situation that farmers cut down other crops, intercropping crops such as coffee and pepper to grow durian. Without proper calculations and standard interventions, will the durian’s hymn turn into… durian?
Let agriculture become the backbone of the economy
The crisis of essential items from toilet paper to food and food has appeared not only in areas that are always in a fragile state of supply like Africa but also in developed countries. Europe, the consequences of supply chain disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict. After these events, pride in big data, artificial intelligence, service economy… still remains intact, but even for a country that can’t hold its head high in these areas, they still find their children. other lines of development.
An engineer who creates the latest technology, controls hundreds of robots, still needs delicious food on the table every evening. If this essential demand is met with increasing quality, Vietnamese agriculture will find a place on the global economic map. The problem is how do we maximize our advantages and contribute more creativity in this production field?
The first is how to place the title. Since the export of agricultural products has won the position it should have, we often hear the target of shrimp export reaching 10 billion USD, pangasius export reaching 12 billion USD by 2030, or recently exporting Durian exports will reach $1 billion by 2023. Less well known is how many shrimps and fishes must be raised, and how many durian roots must be planted to achieve this goal.
In particular, is it normal that such a goal requires us to use more human resources, consume more resources in terms of land and fresh water, and take on more environmental risks than countries that have long achieved the goals? that spend. We also do not mention the minimum benefits that growers and farmers receive in those goals. Obviously, the optimization problem with the central position of the farmer needs to be posed, especially when we have the advantage of being a latecomer.
Next is the approach to achieving the goal. The story of the durian mentioned above is a prime example of the Vietnamese people’s enthusiasm for a good future. But are we too excited about the potential and more indifferent to the challenge, seeing too many opportunities and too few risks, while still not breaking out of the habit or the reality of “putting our eggs in” a basket”?
The largest import market has forced the domestic industry to follow the standards of quality, design, origin… This is the basis for Vietnamese agricultural products to penetrate more deeply into traditional markets. Europe, America and expand new markets in the Middle East and North Africa.
Finally, there is the issue of management. We must realize the absurdity every time the warning about the farmer arbitrarily destroying the old crop to plant a new crop is raised. Planning of aquaculture areas and aquaculture areas is a must, not only to limit the risk of product excess, but also to help issue production area codes to meet export and planning requirements. and develop branded specialty planting areas for middle and high-end customer groups.
For producers to properly implement the plan is not an impossible task if each growing area will gradually become a link in the supply chain for distribution and export enterprises. The expansion of the raw material area is only approved when farmers have long-term off-take contracts with reputable enterprises.
Branding for agricultural products is the first step to reach the high-end segment. It’s no coincidence that thousands of dollars’ worth of mangoes and hundreds of dollars’ worth of grapes appear in Japan. Durian fruit of billions of dong in Thailand was obtained after auctioning at a festival organized by the country itself.
Once we have determined to target this segment, choosing the right agricultural products, we must create such valuable “samples” and widely promote them to the target markets.
For businesses that dare to choose a difficult path, it is necessary to have support from the management agencies in terms of information, technology, capital… And that must be fair support for talented manufacturers and traders to have talent. the best conditions to develop.