By Nguyen Thanh Son
Vietnam has become a member of the World Trade Organisation. The animal husbandry sector will not only have big opportunities for development but face opportunities and challenges as well. Within that context, Vietnamese farmers will have to gradually change their old breeding habits and enterprises have had to renew their technology, production and trading strategy to increase competitiveness. Nguyen Thanh Son, deputy head of the Department for Animal Husbandry tells more.
Advantages and opportunities
In recent years, Vietnam's animal husbandry has maintained a fairly high growth rate. Animal husbandry production value has accounted for 23-25% of agricultural GDP. This has shown the great potentials of the sector. The increasing domestic consumption demand for animal husbandry products is a significant element that promotes the development of production.
According to experts, Vietnam's animal husbandry sector enjoys both comparative and competitive advantages. Being a traditional agricultural sector, animal husbandry has created jobs and brought about important incomes for many farmers' households.
Abundant labour in rural areas and low labour cost are important advantages to this sector. The average wage in animal husbandry farms in Vietnam is about US $1.5 a day while the figure is US $2.5-3 in regional countries and US $18-20 in Europe and North America.
In addition, Vietnam has many indigenous animal breeds with good quality that no import products can replace.
Vietnam has also enjoyed the most favoured nation status from WTO members. This is good for domestic enterprises that export meat and eggs.
For many years now, the animal husbandry sector has approached some new technology on breeds, feed, and breeding facilities of the world. Many high-yield animal breeds from advanced countries have been imported to Vietnam recently. Along with that, some farms have effectively used industrial feed and applied advanced breeding technology. These are the essential premises for the animal husbandry sector upon WTO's integration.
Difficulties and challenges
One of the difficulties for the sector is the high animal feed cost for a product unit. In addition, the breed productivity has not been fully explored, diseases break out regularly, while food safety and hygiene and market development are still left much to be desired.
High animal feed cost and average husbandry productivity have attributed to higher costs in Vietnam's animal husbandry products, unable to compare to regional countries, let alone to advanced countries.
Domestic high-cost products will have to face fierce competition right on the domestic market with imports from WTO members in terms of price and quality.
Consumers are most worried about the safety and hygiene of food products. In addition, the break-outs of diseases have also weakened the competitiveness of such products as pork and duck eggs. The lack of an animal husbandry development plan which causes environmental pollution is also one of the reasons that hinder the sector's sustainable development.
To increase the competitiveness of Vietnam's animal husbandry sector, it is essential to focus on building a sectoral development strategy with long-term and mid-term plans. Priorities should be given to pig and poultry breeding, which Vietnam has advantages of.
Along with the increase in the quality of breeds and renewal of technology, the sector should deal with such issues as to reduce the costs of feed.
Efforts should also be made to control food safety and hygiene by strengthening the supervision of functional agencies and disseminating information on food safety to local breeders, feed producers, slaughter houses, traders and sellers. Violations should be strictly purnished.
Despite various difficulties and challenges, it is a bright prospect that Vietnam's animal husbandry sector will continue to develop and contribute significantly to the country's agricultural achievements.