Women held key roles in agricultural production, from manufacturing and processing to trading, but many still lacked information on food quality and safety, experts said on March 2.

A representative of the Vietnam Women's Union, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, said a recent survey in the northern province of Hung Yen showed of those involved in spraying pesticides, 60.4 percent were women but only 24 percentwere men.

Of those involved in harvesting and selling farm products, almost 80 percent were women while only about 6 percent were men. The rest were children or the elderly.

In 2008, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) hosted a five-year programme titled Role of Women in Producing and Trading Safe Agricultural Products to promote women's awareness.

Deputy Minister of MARD Vu Van Tam said that as overseas trade was a crucial part of Vietnamese agriculture and exports now faced many strict regulations, the project had come at the right time to help improve Vietnamese products.

In the first three years, the programme provided training for a total of 614 farmers and producers of farm products. It also organised many campaigns to promote food safety and hygiene in the community.

Some women, however, do not believe in the power of mass media campaigns for food safety and hygiene.

Nguyen Thi Minh Ly from the Ministry of Science and Technology said: "We (women) don't have much time to watch TV. When there are community meetings in the commune, it's often our husbands who go there. So if we have to change how we carry out our campaigns, we shouldn't do it on TV or at meetings that only men attend."

Ly said that in the past there had been many programmes sponsored by foreign organisations to provide certificates of hygiene to farmers and producers.

But after the programmes ended, many who had attended refused to use the qualify process.

"It's the Government's responsibility to make everyone aware that food hygiene and safety is a must. We haven't been able to do that, but farmers and producers still request an unreal high price for safe products that should be hygienic anyway," Ly said.

Source: VNA/ Photo: vinhcity