The article below was published in Vietnamese in the Saigon Times of 27 June 2013
The story of livestock industry which is going to bankrupt have been alerted many years. However, the situation is becoming more and more serious
Weakness and shortage
For years, there were many policies encouraging investment in agriculture, especially in livestock industry. However, investors are still unwilling due to abundant risk. Many livestock businessman think that support level for livestock industry is still not attractive and not concentrated on the core issue and objects. Process to ask for permission to invest is complicated, especially in the process of asking for land permission to implement livestock projects.
Besides, government gives some incentive policies for livestock industry but not determine support regulated for advantage products such as products from local area. A director of livestock enterprise stated that “because production cost of that area are much higher than that in the town or cities, therefore in order to develop livestock industry to large scale, it should have policy targeted to place living far from center area”. In addition, he said that the lacking of policy encouraging in science, technology and social security for rural agriculture also was a constraint to develop livestock industry.
Moreover, localities are not willing to be invested in livestock projects. Facts have shown that the action of implementation and calling for investment in livestock industry of provinces in Vietnam only occupied 14.2% of 63 provinces and cities. Besides, signing incentive confirmation paper, supporting additional investment and costs to implement policy as regulated at localities were low. Until now, there was only 0.0025 businessman provided with this paper.
The current incentives for livestock industry need to be reviewed and edited to be suitable with real condition. According to Mr. Tong Xuan Chinh, Deputy Director of Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development, businessman should be the core in the incentive policies which encourage investment in livestock industry. Government should add cooperatives and farms to be beneficiaries of this policy. Livestock industry should put midlands and delta regions in the development plan. And the most important thing is to guide the policy to support by direct and indirect mean through the income tax exemption but it needs have a specific mechanism for cooperatives and farms.
It can be said that the status of livestock industry currently, according to experts, is weak and lack of many things. Both input stage as breed, feed, etc… and output stage are still unstable. According to Mr. Chinh, livestock industry now still do not active in breed, then annually it has to import the high number of breed. In 2012, Vietnam had to import 500000 bovine semen and 7000 pig breeds which cost 5 million USD, and 1.5 million poultry semen with import turnover up to 6.4 million USD. Moreover, the distribution of breed-produced system remains unreasonably while the number of produced breeds is low in both quality and quantity. Infrastructure and machine in breed production place is poor and not uniform.
Although livestock situation is so pessimistic, there still have chance to overcome difficulties. According to PhD. Lucila Lapar, agricultural economic expert, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Consuming of pork and other meats will increase significantly as income increases. This is still a opportunity for the livestock sector.
Besides, fresh pork (have just slaughter) is the most prominent products, however, consumers tend to diverse in dietary by buying different kinds of food such as fish, poultry, beef and egg. Therefore, the products of livestock sector need to be diversified to meet that demand.
And the most important thing is price, main indicator affecting the buyer decision and the market competition. Enterprise needs reduce production cost in order to provide more competitive products to consumers.
In order to be proactive in breed, according to Mr. Chinh, livestock sector need organize national breed center again. Government should subsidy the action of raising high quality breeds and should consider this subsidy as public activity in the current situation of Vietnam. Then establishing institutions to improve the breed and complete the licensing and inspection system. The original species should not be kept confined for only exotics. Only by uniform and good implementation of this solution, can livestock industry be proactive for breed resource in the future.
In addition, the study of ILRI showed that, livestock diseases were the first concerned issue of city consumers about food safety. Research indicated that consumers have negative response during the time of pig disease. There was about a half of consumers stop or reduce to use pork and 1/3 consumers change to other meat. In compared with Hanoi’s consumers, Ho Chi Minh’s ones changed to modern market like super market, commercial center because they hope that they can buy safer products.
The reaction of consumers also suggests the methods to revive the livestock sector. Especially, animal safety is always a top priority and it needs to diversify livestock products as well as distribute products towards the modern channel.
Besides, ordinance 2004 is not suitable to solve unwanted problems currently because of the situation of some diseases transferred from livestock to human with increasing rate. Government needs establish veterinary legislation to better manage their disease prevention, disease treatment and control of epidemics: quarantine, slaughter control, veterinary hygiene inspection.
Veterinary legislation also helps government invest in veterinary activities such as science research, technology development, human capacity building, development of information systems and disease inspection. Furthermore, with clear regulations, policy supports about tax, infrastructure as building disease prevention network for organization or individual. Local veterinary network also need to be built again because this is the first unit to prevent and control diseases at local areas.