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Innovation key to agriculture

Update: October, 04/2013 - 08:48
Farmers harvest summer-autumn rice in Hai Que Commune in the central province of Quang Tri's Hai Lang District. More effective technological development will help to restructure the agricultural sector. — VNA/VNS Photo Ho Cau
HA NOI (VNS)— A more effective application of science and technology development in agriculture is seen as a key factor in the restructuring of this crucial sector, according to experts.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat commented at a recent development workshop that the country's agricultural restructure master plan must embrace science and technology to ensure a higher level of efficiency.

Since 2008, the State has spent more than VND2.1 trillion (US$100 million) implementing projects to build laboratories which can aid research and technology transfer to the sector's operations. It has helped to put hundreds of high-yield varieties of crops and domestic animals into production.

However, the National Assembly Committee for Science and Technology and Environment assessed that more still must be done to meet the demand of agricultural development.

The committee's Chairman Phan Xuan Dung said the existing science and technology management mechanism was not good at enforcing theory into practice.

In fact, the agricultural sector remains small-scale in its production capacity and the rate of science and technology used in farm production is still low, he said.

A "brain-drain" of human resources in the field of science and technology has increased due to the lack of preferential policies for researchers, he added.

National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung declared that the country's agricultural sector had yet to live up to its potential, citing the low competitive edge of agricultural products as an example.

He was speaking on the issue at last week's national conference reviewing the use of science and technology in agricultural development.

He argued that the adoption of more advanced science and technology would play a vital role in rectifying this situation.

He said that scientists should take responsibility for doing research repairing and improving the quality of agricultural production, building rural areas and improving farmers' living conditions.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh also stated that slow renovation of technology meant that many traditional agricultural products of Viet Nam were of low quality with high cost, making them uncompetitive in the market.

Particularly, production and preservation technology for some kinds of agricultural products were ineffective, making them lag behind their competitors from other countries.

Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan said it was essential to promote scientific research specific to farming and to ensure copyright laws are in place for new varieties of crops or domestic animals.

At present, investment in agriculture meets only 60 per cent of the real demand and preferential policies encouraging businesses to invest in the sector have not been effective enough.

Under the master plan on restructuring the sector towards increasing added value and sustainable development during the 2011-20 period, science and technology research and human resources training will be promoted with the participation of all economic sectors, particularly non-State businesses.

Phat said a supervision and assessment system would be completed to promptly put scientific and technological research into practice.

The ministry would support farmers in getting access to research services as well as advanced techniques while developing models of vocational training for farmers teaching them how to implement the technology, he said, adding that the required investment would come from more varied sources.

The master plan aims for the country to achieve an annual GDP growth rate for the agricultural sector of between 2.6-3 per cent per year during 2011-15 and 3.5-4 per cent during 2016-20.

The other targets are to improve the income and living standards for rural people, ensure food security and reduce poverty.

Head of the Ministry's Planning Department Nguyen Thi Hong said one key measure to help effectively restructure the economy was to encourage more private investment in agricultural development.

Apart from policies issued by the Government, localities should have their own initiatives to draw more investment in the sector in line with their socio-economic conditions, she said.

Up to 70 per cent of Viet Nam's population lives in rural areas, making up 20 per cent of the country's GDP and 30 per cent of its total export value. — VNS


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