Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat urged businesses to help farmers boost their competitive capacity as part of the agricultural restructuring process.
Phat said at a workshop held yesterday in Ha Noi that the ministry encouraged enterprises to work more closely with farmers to improve their operations.
"Of course enterprises could not work on their own with tens of thousands of farmers across the country, so there should be associations to act as bridges, connecting the two groups," he said.
Phat gave his suggestions at the workshop on the role of co-operatives and other agro-trade organisations organised yesterday by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) in co-ordination with the Viet Nam Co-operative Alliance and the World Bank.
Phan Quoc An, a representative from the Qui Hien Co-operative in the northern province of Lao Cai, said farmers were facing increasing obstacles in competition.
A lack of co-operation with relevant agencies in defining product values made farmers' competition problems worse, he added.
An said that in most farmer-business co-operation businesses take on less risk than farmers do.
"Farmers should join co-operatives if they want to get a fairer share of the profit," he suggested.
However, a lack of information makes establishing new co-operatives a slow process, An said.
Nguyen Van Thinh, vice chairman of the Viet Nam Co-operative Alliance, said co-operatives were also facing hardships, so they might not be able to help farmers as much as expected. Most of them were operating on a small scale without effective management.
Minister Phat said appropriate measures must be worked out immediately to improve the overall performance of agriculture co-operatives, which could improve the competitiveness of agro-products by connecting farmers and businesses.
In a separate meeting on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai also urged ministries, agencies and localities to accelerate the restructuring of the agricultural sector. This was an urgent task, he said.
He also asked for stronger communication campaigns at all levels, mainly targeting farmers. He reported that 17 national and seven regional plans had been established to help restructure the sector. — VNS