Organic agricultural production has been expanding in Vietnam, but very few made-in-Vietnam organic fertilizer products are marketed.
Scientists have urged farmers to use organic fertilizers
Scientists have repeatedly urged farmers to use organic fertilizer to protect the environment and ‘clean’ land; while the government has encouraged enterprises to invest in organic fertilizer production.
However, the organic fertilizer output remains modest. Vietnam has only a few fertilizer plants utilizing modern technologies — Que Lam Group, Song Gianh, Dabaco, Thien Sinh and Thien Hoa.
The majority of workshops still use simple production lines which give low productivity. The number of domestically made organic fertilizer products that have international certificates is so modest that they ‘can be counted with the fingers on one hand’. The HCMC-based Green Agriculture Vietnam specializes in making and trading organic and microbiological fertilizers; but only one import product is internationally certified and supplied to organic farms.
Explaining this, the company’s deputy general director Nguyen Thanh Tam said the cost to obtain a certificate for one product is $5,000-7,000, but the certificate is valid for only one year. Meanwhile, the low demand and sales cannot cover costs. Tam affirmed that Vietnam is capable of making high-quality organic fertilizers. Some products of Vietnam have prices even higher than certified import products, and they have been accepted by VietGAP and GlobalGAP farms.
As the market remains small, large fertilizer manufacturers are still reluctant to scale up organic fertilizer production. Binh Dien Fertilizer JSC decided to make both inorganic and organic fertilizers two years ago. However, only its two subsidiaries – Binh Dien Mekong and Binh Dien Lam Dong – make organic biological fertilizers with limited output. The products of the two companies are used for different purposes, either rice cultivation, or coffee and pepper plants.
Another fertilizer maker, which intended to invest in organic fertilizer production and planned to launch nano organic fertilizer into the market by early 2019, has unexpectedly postponed the plan. A representative of the company said the market capacity remains too small. The consumption of organic fertilizers has increased recently, but insignificantly, while organic farmers mostly use organic imports from Japan or compost fertilizers themselves as instructed by international organizations.
Unclear policies are also a problem. The government is encouraging organic fertilizer production, but has not set up clear policies on credit, land and tax incentives. A report showed that the amount of organic fertilizers made domestically, imported and used in Vietnam is just equal to 1/19 of inorganic fertilizers. To date, only 180 enterprises have been licensed to make organic fertilizers, with total capacity of 2.5 million tons per annum.
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