The industry becomes much larger in scale, greater in stature. It ranks among the world’s top ten seafood supplier and recognized as a grown-up and progressive industry.
At the dawn of the Dragon Year 2012, Vietnamese people yearn to see a dragon rise of the country, especially in the economic development. In the seafood industry in particular, it is the dream of a dynamic change in the management system, most importantly the food safety assurance, at both macro level (government) and micro one (individual companies, farms, etc.).
For nearly 20 years, since 1994, when NAFIQACEN (now known as NAFIQAD) was established, Viet Nam's seafood industry has made tremendous achievements in food safety management. It is founded on an advanced management concept, which is learned from the experiences of EU and the US, and becomes a typical example for other agricultural sectors.
However, at the entrance of the second decade of the 21st century, both the government and enterprises displayed a number of setbacks in the food safety management when the scale of production becomes too large and more stringent requirements of the consumers and the legislation arise in import markets. The management of the production conditions was well performed only in the last stage of the supply chain, i.e. processing and exports, while raw material production, the weakest and most vulnerable points where the crucial and unpreventable risks arise and affect the food safety and quality of products, have not been brought to focus.
The country’s food safety management mechanism and apparatus is still inefficient, inclining towards sample-based inspection of export shipments rather than monitoring the entire supply chain with the particularity of each commodity and company being taken into account. The number of companies invest in integrated production chain is small. They mostly attend to the processing only and leaving the supply of raw materials in the hands of middlemen – currently the least regulated ones.
Food safety management reform is a continuous process, which is based on the actual requirements of both insiders and outsiders at certain times. On one hand, the seafood processing enterprises are not fragmented as before. They have matured and more professionalized. Many large and medium enterprises are involved in every stage of the production, from hatchery, feed manufacturing, farm, transportation, to processing and export. On the other hand, the requirements of the buyers, consumers and legislation system in the import market have become increasingly demanding. Such development trend calls for a clear division of responsibilities between the government and the enterprises as well as an aggressive switch-over to an integrated food safety management to meet the environmental protection requirements and ensure social security.
The good news is both MARD and VASEP are on the same mind about this approach. Such unanimity is reflected in the resolution that Minister Cao Duc Phat announced in various conferences and meetings, including the meetings with the Pangasius and brackish water shrimp producers held in Can Tho and Ca Mau on February 7-8, 2012. The Dragon Year 2012 is a year that the industry restructures and throws out the old model. The combined efforts and unanimity of NAFIQAD and VASEP are much needed to realize the ministry’s regulation and drastically reform the food safety management.
NGUYEN HUU DUNG