Viet Nam News
HCM City is the leading locality in developing a multifunction model of an agricultural high-tech park. The Agricultural High-tech Park (AHTP) in HCM City’s Củ Chi District, the country’s first agricultural high-tech park, links research and technology-transfer demonstrations with eco-tourism services, attracting investment from the business sector. Đinh Minh Hiệp, head of AHTP’s management board, spoke to Việt Nam News about the development of hi-tech agriculture, saying that it is an inevitable trend in Việt Nam as a whole and HCM City in particular, and will help to increase productivity, quality and value of agricultural products.
What are the achievements of AHTP?
AHTP was established in 2004 by the municipal People’s Committee with investment of VNĐ152 billion (US$6.69 million) and officially came into operation in 2010.
Its duties include making high-tech agricultural products, incubating high-tech agricultural businesses, conducting research and demonstration production models, and consulting about and transferring technology, as well as promoting models of hi-tech agriculture. It also helps farmers sell their high-tech agricultural products.
The 88-hectare park is now fully occupied, attracting 14 projects with a total investment capital of VNĐ461 billion (US$20.3 million).
The projects focus on plant breeding, agricultural bio-products, mushrooms, orchids, ornamental plants, preserving and processing agricultural products, and high-tech agricultural cultivation models.
To provide space for new investors, four delayed projects with total registered capital of VNĐ141 billion (US$6.21 million) that cover a total area of 11 hectares will be withdrawn.
Between 2010 and 2016, the park’s turnover was estimated at VNĐ600 billion (US$26.43 million). During the period it supplied to the market 55,000 muskmelon seeds and 148,315 tonnes of high-quality plant seeds of various kinds as well as 5,000 tonnes of agricultural products such as muskmelons, gourds, wax gourds and cucumbers and 33,300 tonnes of agricultural bio-products, among other products.
AHTP carried out 11 demonstration models of high-tech based agriculture as well as developed 10 farming techniques and four advanced technologies that were recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
With the transfer of technologies and advanced cultivation methods to farmers, many cultivation areas applying hi-tech agriculture have developed, such as orchid and muskmelon cultivation areas in the outlying districts of Củ Chi, Bình Chánh, Nhà Bè, Hóc Môn, 9 and 12.
Twenty-eight organisations and businesses have participated in the park’s incubation programme, including 12 businesses that have completed the programme and moved out to operate independently.
AHTP signed four cooperation agreements with Japanese partners, including Fuji Consulting Japan, Nakashima Bussan and Syudensya, to develop sustainable agriculture by adopting Japan’s technologies.
HCM City’s People’s Committee last year approved a high-technology application for an agricultural development programme in the city for the 2016-2020 period, with a vision to 2025.
The programme aims to promote the application of advanced technologies to produce agricultural products that are highly competitive and safe, with high productivity and high quality.
It targets that 50-60 per cent of farmer households and 70-80 per cent of agricultural enterprises will apply high technologies in production, such as automation and mechanisation, and use high-tech breeds, cultivation models, and post-harvest technologies.
The programme will cost a total of VNĐ2.63 trillion (US$115 million), with funding from the State budget accounting for 53 per cent and the remaining 47 per cent from farmers and enterprises.
To meet the increasing demand for high-tech agricultural investment, AHTP is developing two projects: the Aquacultural Hi-tech Park in Long Hòa Commune in Cần Giờ District and Horticulture and the Post- Harvest Park in Phước Vĩnh An Commune in Củ Chi District.
The 90-hectare park in Cần Giờ will focus on aquatic breeding, high-tech agricultural production, and preservation and processing. The project, now under design, is expected to be put into operation by 2021.
The 23.3-hectare park in Củ Chi will focus on breeding research as well as preservation of breeds. The project is under the process of completing investment procedures.
Besides AHTP, the Dairy Demonstration and Experimental Farm and HCM City Biotechnology Centre are facilities for research, application and demonstration of high-tech agriculture in the city.
Major high-tech agricultural enterprises in the city include Southern Seed Corporation, Tropdicorp and Vingroup.
What are the major challenges for the development of high-tech agriculture in HCM City?
Besides results that have been achieved, the application of high-tech in agricultural development in HCM City has exposed some constraints.
Transfer of technology and advanced cultivation methods to farmers are developing at a slow space due to low adaptation of farmers to new technologies and high costs in the application of high-tech agriculture.
Most high-tech agricultural businesses are operating with a small-scale production and have limited capital and consumption markets.
Farmers and enterprises engaged in high-tech agriculture still face many difficulties relating to access to investment capital and land funds.
The management board’s functions and responsibilities are still unclear, making it difficult for the board to work with related agencies to manage enterprises operating at the park.
The investment polices and procedures at the park are complicated and time-consuming due to overlapping investment regulations.
What are the incentive policies to support the development of high-tech agriculture in HCM City?
The Government has adopted various policies to promote the development of high-tech agriculture.
Early this year, the Government announced a VNĐ100 trillion (US$4.4 billion) credit package with preferential interest rates for high-tech agriculture projects.
Most high-tech agriculture enterprises are small- and medium-sized enterprises in need of credit support to develop.
However, it is difficult for farmers and high-tech agricultural enterprises that have no predictable consumption markets for their products to take out bank loans.
High-tech agricultural enterprises put up land-use rights as security for the loans as most enterprises pay land taxes every year. The land-use rights can be put up as security for the loans if land taxes are paid dozens of years in advance.
Banks will face risks when offering loans to farmers and enterprises engaging in high-tech agriculture if the output of farm produce is not secured.
The definition of high-tech agriculture is also a big concern for the credit support policy. —VNS