TIEN GIANG — A significant amount of scientific research on seeds done at the Southern Fruits Research Institute risks being neglected due to a shortage of funds, a grave problem given that every year the country spends hundreds of millions of dollars to import seeds.
Vo Huu Thoai, a researcher at the institute, said that during the past five years he and a colleague had been working on a project on transplanting orange-grape fruit trees that can cope with climate changes and sea water.
The project was highly appreciated by experts from the institute, but it cannot be piloted and farmers cannot participate due to the lack of funds.
Projects related to transplanting often take 10 years to have final products, whereas present regulations stipulate that each project be implemented within only five years, said Thoai.
"If we want to continue the project, we must re-register it and wait for assessment and fund allocation. But it was not approved to continue," he added.
At present five orange-grape fruit transplanting trees, which are products of the project, were planted in the institute laboratory garden, and were not expanded.
The project was allocated VND350 million (US$16,600), but VND200 million ($9,500) more is needed to educate farmers about the technique.
Not only the project on trees being impervious to salt water, but many other research projects focusing on vegetables, chilli, cucumber and flowers were also shelved for the same reasons.
Director of the institute Nguyen Minh Chau lamented that the institute looked forward to carrying out a number of projects, but this was impossible as it did not have enough funds.
Every year the State budget allocated about VND1.5 billion (US$71,400) to the institute for research, but in fact, the institute needed double this amount.
"To have funds to balance expenses and ensure a stable income for employees, we must rely on co-operation projects," he said.
Some projects have only enough money to finish the research, but do not have any remaining funds to make pilot products.
"Meanwhile, I heard that some provinces' scientific and technological institutes did not use all of their yearly funds allocated from the State budget for research, and must return the remaining money to the budget," he said.
Chau said that at present the funds allocated for central institutes' projects made up about 40 per cent of the total expenses for agricultural projects. And the remaining was allocated to provinces' institutes.
"The State should re-balance the allocations, maybe spending 50 per cent or more on the central institute's projects," he said.
Besides, the State should attract more funds from other sources, including enterprises and corporations, he added. — VNS