02:22 (GMT +7) - Monday 17/06/2019


To push agriculture forward

Released at: 09:06, 01/01/2019

To push agriculture forward

Photo: Viet Tuan

Efforts to improve Vietnam's agriculture sector need to be improved and built upon, a range of experts told VET.

Dr. Le Dang Doanh, Former Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM)

Vietnam’s agriculture sector has been restructured in recent years and utilized its competitive advantages in the world market. Opportunities to export to other countries have been taken, primarily to China, with output increasing as a result, especially seafood. Thanks to improved quality and new features, such as hi-tech farms, the sector has also received a lot of attention from local investors. 

There are also matters for the sector to address, however. Many Vietnamese enterprises do not possess certificates of origin on their products or food hygiene and safety certification, or meet other quality standards, meaning products have encountered difficulties in being exported to high quality markets. In regard to Industry 4.0, Vietnam’s agriculture sector is limited in certain respects, such as its small-scale production, limited investment, its weak links between the State, farmers, and scientific institutes and universities, and human resources training.

The sector has made good progress but we need to study the opportunities and challenges to continue to transform. Agriculture needs to shift to large-scale production and growing crops based on market signals and have more businesses with capital for investment. Investing in agriculture is marked by high market risk and weather concerns. If the government does not adopt support mechanisms, only large enterprises will be able to invest. There are still market opportunities and the sector possess advantages in development, in which the role of the State and reform need to be further promoted.

Mr. Tran Xuan Dinh, Deputy Director General of the Department of Crop Production at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Caption...

Vietnamese agriculture enterprises have the basic advantages of being founded by State enterprises formed in almost all localities and regions. These enterprises were established to produce and trade materials and inputs for agricultural production and have broad networks. Most have now been equitized and produce and trade under market mechanisms.

The difficulties they face in attracting FDI include their low starting point and low levels of scientific research, facilities, and equipment for research. Research experiments are simple and conducted by only a few new enterprises. Financial resources are also limited and corporate management and brand building among enterprises remain weak.

Vietnam is a country with potential and strengths in agriculture, given its diverse climate, fertile soil, industrious and intelligent workers, and diversity of agricultural products, such as seafood, coffee, pepper, and rice.

Agriculture has been directed and guided by the government, with many policies being renovated to suit the circumstances created by integration and being more feasible for investors. It is hoped that more foreign enterprises will invest in agriculture in the future.

In order to attract FDI, however, local enterprises must improve their capacity to compete and adopt a strategy for developing their own products, while improving their management and research capacity and applying new technologies to production. Vietnam’s agriculture enterprises should pay greater attention to quality human resources, international cooperation, and advertising, which will promote their profile and present opportunities and investment.

Dr. Dinh Dung Sy, Director General of the Legal Department at the Office of the Government

Growth in the agriculture sector in recent times has confirmed that it has potential for development, with Industry 4.0 presenting opportunities for sustainable development. If Vietnam does not stay abreast of this trend and increase productivity and quality of goods, we will lag behind developed countries. 

In order to identify solutions and create breakthrough and sustainable development, it is necessary to connect enterprises, investors and farmers, allow for more land accumulation, and use agricultural land in a more open and flexible way, in particular converting rice land into other crops or to fisheries, cattle, or poultry, which have higher economic value. The application of science and technology in agriculture, the development of preferential policies, and changes to mechanisms for enterprises are also critical. In my opinion, investing in agriculture and creating breakthrough and sustainable development in the sector is the focus of socioeconomic development in the next ten years.

Dr. Nguyen Thi Luyen, Director of the Research Department on Economic Institutions at the Central Institute for Economic Management 

Vietnam will see stronger waves of technological innovation in agriculture as it works towards further international integration and trade liberalization, but competition will also become stiffer.

Industry 4.0 is an opportunity for the country to catch up with new technologies and continue the restructuring of the agriculture sector towards being smarter, more sustainable, and adaptive to climate change and international economic integration. However, we need to choose technology and products consistent with each region and market. Local enterprises are considered the center of applying and transferring modern technologies and forming sustainable and safe value chains for agricultural products. 

Access to the Agriculture 4.0 involves applying the achievements of Industry 4.0 into the sector to increase worker efficiency and cut labor costs and losses from disease and disasters, while finding cost savings in every stage of production, processing, and sales. To develop sustainable agriculture, there must be comprehensive solutions in human resources, land, infrastructure, databases, financial and market issues, and production operation. Local farmers and enterprises also need change their mindset and local consumers also need change by using information technology to monitor traceability.

Ms. Vo Thi Hoa Lan, Deputy Head of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development at the National Economics University

Vietnam has advantages in agriculture and to approach Industry 4.0 the sector needs to apply science and technology, especially new technologies, as well as learn from the experience other countries like Israel and Thailand. Application in Vietnam may be limited, however, because the sector is still at the level of Industry 2.0, with outdated production models. Access to Agriculture 4.0 is largely the domain of major corporations. 

Meanwhile, the number of production households meeting Vietnamese standards, VietGAP, is few. Farmers lack awareness about how to make products at competitive prices. The production of specialty items for export has not reached the levels expected, while the value of such exports can be huge. Farmers need to improve their knowledge and meet domestic standards in the short term and aim at meeting international standards in the medium and long terms. 

We have changed some of the training courses at our university, updating and equipping students with new knowledge and technologies that are global trends. Students also have the opportunity to reach out to businesses to understand what their needs are and to equip themselves with soft skills to meet their working requirements. We focus on training high-quality students, as they will become highly-skilled workers in the future.

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