Vietnam farmers’ income still too low

VietNamNet Bridge – Living conditions have improved generally but the added value in agriculture per each laborer in Vietnam was at a standstill over the past decade, and not commensurate with economic growth, according to a survey conducted by the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).

According to the survey, poverty is still a problem in rural Vietnam, though rural areas have changed. Many households are even poorer. Among Southeast Asian nations, GDP per capita in rural Vietnam is only higher than Cambodia.

When will the farmer’s lives get better?

Vietnam farmers’ income still too low

The gap between the rich and the poor is increasing.

The proportion of people living in rural areas account for 70% of Vietnam’s population. The population still faces many difficulties in their daily lives.

"Forty kg of lemons are priced VND6,000, even less than the price of a loaf of bread in the city; the price of 2 kg of sweet potatoes is enough to buy a glass of iced tea, how can peasants live with their crops?” a reader Minh Trang said.

Ms. Hoang Kim from Dak Lak Province said: "The Vietnamese farmers have been struggling with the problem: which cattle and poultry should they breed and what crops should they plant to escape from poverty. After only one poor harvest, the farmer will almost become poor."

Many people proposed that the State should support farmers to create brands for agricultural products, to deal with falling prices for agricultural products when farmers have a bumper crop.

Risk of lagging behind

Dr. Ngo Tri Long, former Deputy Director of the Institute for Market Price Research, said lagging behind was no longer a risk, and that it had already occurred.

Long said the state has realized the difficulties of agriculture and encouraged all economic sectors to create high productivity, but this policy has not been effective. The biggest shortcoming is that the policies and plans have not been implemented, checked and reviewed properly.

The output market is a vitally important issue and problematic in agricultural production, but it has not been solved yet. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening.

Dr. Ngo Tri Long said: "GDP is low due to low productivity, efficiency and employment levels. The economic picture in rural areas is very bleak, and it has yet to reach the set target, and is not commensurate with the potential, so the farmers are suffering."

"Lagging behind is not a risk but it exists. It’s alarming!" Long said.

Economic expert Dr. Huynh The Du, lecturer at the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, said: "The percentage of people working in agriculture is very high, but the state's policies have not reached them or they have not fit the actual situation. The rate of skilled laborers who are unemployed remains a serious matter in the economy.”

Mr. Luu Duc Khai, Head of the Rural Development Policy Department of the CIEM, said: “Vietnam’s labor productivity is lower than other countries because of land fragmentation and poor mechanization. The value of agricultural production is low so the income of farmers is also low.”

"The rural population accounts for 2/3 of the total population of Vietnam, workers in agriculture account for 46-47%, but the value of agriculture in GDP is only around 20%. The data demonstrates that the agricultural labor productivity is very low and it is lower in comparison with that of other countries in Southeast Asia," Khai said.

Khai pointed out two main reasons: the scale of agricultural production of Vietnamese farmer households is too small, while mechanization is still low; the value of agricultural products is also low. Vietnam also lacks a connection between farmers and businesses.

Economic experts Ngo Tri Long added that in the integration trend, when comparing Vietnam with other countries, we can see that barriers from administrative formalities, investment environment or high fees and charges are affecting investment in agriculture.

That's why part of young, healthy and skilled laborers in rural areas migrate to urban areas, not investing in production at home. This worsens the economic situation in these areas.

Luu Duc Khai said the satisfaction of people in rural areas has fallen compared with previous years. When people are unhappy about life, they cannot ensure stable production.

Previously, the survey "Perception of citizens of the State and Vietnam market" in 2014 by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the World Bank showed that up to 81% of people said they were unsatisfied with the current situation of the economy.

Nam Nguyen

Vietnam farmers’ income still too low