The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has submitted a food security plan lasting until 2020 to the Prime Minister. This is among significant plans to develop agriculture and the rural area, as well as to improve the living standards of farmers.
A great challenge for food security in Vietnam is the area for rice planting being narrowed.
One million ill-nourished people
According to the MARD, food production in Vietnam has risen clearly in recent years. Specifically, the total food output reached 38.1 million tons in 2000 and it increased to 52.4 million tons in 2008.
Vietnam is the world’s second largest rice exporting country, but by 2007, 6.7% of families lacked food. The ratio is up to 8.7% of households in the rural area. Currently, approximately 1 million people in the mountainous region do not have enough rice, so they have to use maize and cassava as major foods.
Some agricultural experts said the shortage of food is caused by the difference in farming conditions and the poor regulation of food between regions in the country.
It is predicted that by 2020, Vietnam’s population will hit 100 million and be up to 120 million by 2030. While the population will increase, the rice growing area is forecasted to reduce gradually.
“Our biggest issue at present is having a rice producing strategy to ensure both domestic food security and export. We can not follow Thailand to produce high-quality rice. We should grow rice varieties of medium-quality, and have high productivity to serve medium-level markets,” said the Director of the Farming Agency under the MARD, Dr. Nguyen Tri Ngoc.
Hunger to end by 2012
The MARD’s National Food Security Plan says aims to put an end to hunger by 2012. Based on that goal, the Ministry suggested to devote at least 3.5 million hectares of land for rice growing, to ensure a total rice output of 39-40 million tones per years. Another 1.3 million hectares should be devoted to maize, the MARD proposed.
“The most important thing is we have to keep land for rice growing, especially fat land. To do this, we need to amend the Land Law, including restricting the power of local administrations in making decisions related to cultivated land,” said Dr. Nguyen Tri Ngoc.
According to experts, a great challenge for food security in Vietnam is the area for rice planting being narrowed. It is estimated that by 2020, around 600,000 ha of cultivated land will be used to develop industry and transport. As a result, the total rice growing area will fall from the current level of 4.1 million hectares to 3.5 million hectares.
The MARD suggested the establishment of the National Food Security Committee, led by a Deputy Prime Minister and gathering high ranking officials from related ministries, to implement the national food security plan.
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