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Friday, September 17, 2021

Food processing workers should be given priority for Covid-19 vaccination: Ministry

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HCMC – A working team of the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development has proposed the prime minister ask local authorities to prioritize vaccinating all workers of food processing plants to maintain production and exports.

As for the fisheries sector, the working team in a report sent to the prime minister said that the latest resurgence of the coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on fisheries companies, especially those in the south.

Fisheries production and exports since the second half of July fell sharply, by 20% compared to the first half of this year. The capacity of fisheries processing plants in the south is also forecast to decline by 60-70%, the team said.

After visiting some fisheries processing facilities, the team noticed that these businesses have made huge efforts to maintain their operations and well adopted the stay-at-work mode. However, many fisheries processing plants that failed to meet anti-virus requirements due to relatively high costs had to halt their operations.

Meanwhile, most of the workers of these businesses have yet to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Once an employee is infected with Covid-19, the plant has to shut down and can encounter huge financial losses.

The team also predicted that the supply of agricultural products and food for export in the second half of the year will drop sharply. The export of vegetables in the second half may fall 30% due to the lack of agricultural materials.

In addition, many agricultural products could face difficult consumption and falling prices such as dragon fruits, bananas, pineapples, lemons, tra fish and shrimp, prompting a certain number of farmers, cooperatives and enterprises to hesitate to reinvest in further production.

To promote the growth of the cultivation, husbandry, fisheries sectors and avoid the disruption of the value chain, it is essential to roll out a program to comprehensively support the sectors in terms of plant seeds, livestock and aquatic breeds.

Accordingly, the team proposed the Government leader direct 19 provinces and cities in the south to administer the Covid-19 vaccine to all workers of food processing plants, slaughterhouses that are implementing the stay-at-work mode and manufacturing businesses in connection with factories. They are the labor force that directly ensures the supply of food and foodstuff in the long run, the team added.

The Government was also asked to offer electricity price support to food producing and processing businesses, so that they can ramp up the purchase of agro products and keep products in cold storage.

The team also requested the Government to launch a national program to purchase and stock up on rice to stimulate rice production and encourage local farmers to continue rice production, aimed at ensuring national food security and stable rice export.

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