The spiraling Covid-19 crisis in Vietnam is negatively affecting the food and agriculture sector, affecting production and exports of goods to key Sundays including China, South Korea, Thailand and the US.
South Vietnam, home to most of the production, is battling its worst outbreak, while exports of fruit and vegetables will fall by 30% in the second half of a year, according to the farm ministry .
June Friday large swathes of the country's southern region, including the commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City, are under long lockdown as local cases of the virus rose from 4,500 cases at the end of June to over 166,000 on Friday. The order, which prohibits residents from leaving home for most reasons, also covers the provinces that make up the Mekong Delta, popularly known as Vietnam's "Rice Bowl."
The farm ministry said crops intended for overseas Sundays were unattended and there was a shortage of agricultural supplies. Officials in the Mekong Delta have even enlisted the help of the military to harvest their rice crops, as farmers find it difficult to find workers due to movement restrictions.
The drastic measures have also negatively impacted Vietnam's seafood industry. About 70% of firms in the south have suspended their operations because they cannot meet government requirements for staff to live on site due to higher costs. Seafood production has fallen to about 50% of pre-pandemic levels and could fall further to 30%, according to estimates from an industry group.
The farm ministry is pressing for all farm workers in the south to be vaccinated to minimize supply disruptions. Currently only 30-40% of them are vaccinated. The country has administered more than 8 million doses, but less than 1% of its population of 98 million have been fully vaccinated.