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Farms bank on sustainability

Update: December, 05/2012 - 10:04

 

Women harvest chilies in Dong Thap Province's Thanh Binh District. Viet Nam expects to achieve sustainable development in the agriculture sector due to the harmony between socio-economic development and good environmental practices. — VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khuong
HA NOI (VNS)— Harmony between socio-economic development and environmental protection will ensure sustainable development for the agricultural sector of Viet Nam.

This was the conclusion reached by a Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's International Support Group plenary meeting on restructuring the agriculture sector, which opened yesterday.

Agriculture provides an important source of income and employment for 70 per cent of the country's population, so Minister Cao Duc Phat said special attention would be paid to both the quality and sustainability of agricultural growth in the coming time.

"The ministry has built a draft proposal on agricultural restructuring that will lead to greater added value and sustainable development," he said. "It has three key pillars: social and economic development and environmental protection."

These three sustainable pillars will be reflected through the reliable supply of food, raw materials and labour and better management of key natural resources.

The draft states that Viet Nam's agricultural sector has made enormous progress after 25 years of reforms, but there remain concerns about the quality and sustainability of Viet Nam's agricultural growth and about how well it is promoting the welfare of producers and consumers.

Some agricultural growth has come at the expense of the environment in the forms of biodiversity loss, natural resource degradation and water pollution, the draft states. This has imposed significant costs on society while threatening the sustainable growth of the country.

Steven Jaffee from the World Bank's Ad Hoc Advisory Group to the ministry agreed that sustainable development had a triple bottom line: social, economic and environment.

He said sustainable development was as much a process as a destination, and involved adjusting the goal posts as well as the roles of the Government and specific Government actions taken, as well as paying more attention to weighing social and environmental costs and benefits.

He also highlighted the responsibilities of different sectors for sustainable development in the agricultural value chain, from input suppliers to producers, intermediaries, processors, exporters and retailers.

For example, producers could increase water productivity, reduce their reliance on agrochemicals and implement more efficient soil management techniques.

"Meanwhile, processors should use energy- and water-efficient technology, use by-products, preserve the nutritional content of processed food and ensure safe working conditions," he said.

Director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development Dang Kim Son stressed that policy solutions should cover economic, social and environmental factors.

This included more efficient use and better management of land, financial resources, infrastructure and labour force, increasing income, reducing poverty and ensuring quality of life for the country's rural population.

"We should strengthen measures to cope with disasters and climate change, make better use of natural resources such as by developing the forestry economy and environmental services and ensure food safety by developing a green agricultural value chain and enforcing standards more rigorously," Son said.

At the meeting, representatives from international donors agreed that restructuring would help promote rapid and sustainable economic growth, ensure food security and contribute to poverty reduction and development for rural areas.

They proposed Viet Nam increase efficiency of management and use of public investments, implement institutional reform, refresh State-owned enterprises and create policies to encourage the participation of all segments of society in the restructuring process.

Under the draft agricultural restructure proposal, Viet Nam aims to realise an agricultural GDP growth rate between 3.5-4 per cent by 2020, as well as raise rural household incomes by a factor of 2.5 and reduce the rural poverty rate by 2 per cent per year in the same period.

The draft also mentions other goals for 2020, including a 20 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and national forest coverage of 45 per cent. — VNS

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