Funds needed for hi-tech agriculture in Vietnam

HÀ  NỘI — Agricultural productivity and quality should be increased by investing more in innovation and strengthening links between all stakeholders, including farmers, enterprises and research institutes, experts say.

At a seminar held in Hà Nội on Tuesday, they also said that access to land, capital and markets were factors hindering hi-tech agriculture.

Cao Đức Phát, permanent deputy head of the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission, said that the agriculture sector had grown strongly in the 2011-15 period, with improved farm produce quality and increasing number of agriculture enterprises.

He said that in 2013, the Government approved a restructuring master plan for the agriculture sector, oriented primarily towards value addition.

One of the most important changes under this plan was shifting the focus from productivity to effectiveness and high quality, based on application of science and technology, boosting hi-tech agriculture.

Since then, many firms like TH True Milk, VinGroup, and Việt Úc have made big investments in hi-tech agriculture. In addition, many farmers have invested in small scale hi-tech agriculture models.

However, the development of hi-tech agriculture had been stalled by land, market and capital barriers. The effectiveness of some key produce had been low, especially rice and tea, Phát said.

Nguyễn Thị Thanh Thủy, head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)’s Department of Science, Technology and Environment, said the State had issued a number of policies to facilitate high-tech agriculture, but administrative procedures and the lack of insurance were weakening the effort.

Thủy felt firms should be encouraged to establish research centres and forming close linkages between businesses and technological organisations to promote hi-tech applications.

She stressed the need to increase negotiations and the signing of trade deals to facilitate businesses’ access to more markets.

Nguyễn Đỗ Anh Tuấn, director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, said there had not been enough investment in science and technology for agriculture and rural areas. Thus far, investments had been directed mostly to theoretical pursuits, he said.

He said there was a need to increase investment in agricultural renovation. For this, among other things, co-operation between relevant associations and big businesses should be encouraged, he added.

Participants also called for reviewing and amending regulations on hi-tech applications in agriculture and the Law on Land, as well as providing new incentives for hi-tech farming enterprises.

The meeting heard that the southern provinces of Hậu Giang, Phú Yên and Bạc Liêu are currently home to three hi-tech agricultural zones approved by the Prime Minister.

The MARD has granted licenses to 26 hi-tech firms while Thái Nguyên, Thanh Hóa and Lâm Đồng provinces have devised plans to establish hi-tech agricultural zones.

As of the late March, the State had provided VNĐ156.3 billion (US$6.79 million) for 15 hi-tech projects in agriculture.

According to the MARD, firms invested more than VNĐ21.2 trillion in 25 hi-tech agricultural projects from June 2016 to February 2017.

The seminar, part of the Việt Nam Economic Forum 2017, was jointly organised by the MARD and the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission. — VNS

Young plants growing in very large plant commercial greenhouse

Source: Vietnamnews