Viet Nam News
LONG AN – The provinces of Long An and Đồng Nai have been unable to use high-quality research findings to boost agricultural development because they lack funds and are unable to match what farmers want, officials say.
Đinh Thị Phương Khanh, deputy director of the Long An Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said farmers needed technical support obtained from scientific research that they can apply in production.
Many scientific projects have produced approved, high-quality results that can help farmers, but few have been applied in practice, she said.
By last year, her office had received 16 scientific research results from the Department of Science and Technology for application on the field.
Khanh said her office has asked district and commune authorities to apply the research findings to boost agricultural development, and 14 projects have been registered to do so. However, only one project has received financial support.
“A project to commercially breed catfish in Thanh Hoá District was the only one that received VNĐ190 million (US$8,360). The remaining projects are still on the waiting list, because the Department of Science and Technology has not been able to allocate funds,” Khanh said.
Lê Quốc Dũng, director of the province’s Department of Science and Technology, agreed that funding shortage was a big challenge. Without funding, scientific researches would remain theories, he said.
Dũng said the department has been allocated just VNĐ10 billion ($440,000) for all scientific and technological activities, so the maximum it could offer a project was VNĐ 200 million ($8,800).
There are as many as 32 projects that have not yet been implemented, he added.
Scientific projects in Đồng Nai Province have faced another problem: selling the produce once the findings have been applied by farmers.
According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the local Centre for Biotechnology Application has received the results of 30 scientific research, but 16 of them remain on paper.
A project to expand Mokara orchid gardens was carried out as a collaboration between the Đồng Nai Centre for Biotechnology Application and HCM City’s Biotechnology Centre in 2013.
Trial results were good. Mokara orchid growers could earn more than VNĐ1.2 billion ($52,800) per hectare from the second year onwards. However, the total area of orchid gardens four years after the project began implementation was only four hectares or so.
Trần Vũ, farmer in Long Khánh Township, said he had visited the model of orchid planting at the centre and decided not to invest in it.
Vũ said the centre asked farmers to invest more than VNĐ 1 billion ($44,000) for each hectare of orchids, but did not promise stable outlets.
Other projects, one to raise buffaloes in Đồng Tháp Mười and another to grow dragon fruits in Châu Thành District, have showed promise. However, the high cost of production and uncertain markets were major barriers to implementing them on a larger scale.
Highlighting yet another problem, Lương Thành Trung, director of Đồng Nai Province’s Agriculture Extension Centre, said farmers only wanted to plant crops with low production cost and high selling prices. But most of the scientific research projects focused on high-quality products, which increased production costs. This, combined with the inability of authorized agencies to guarantee stable outlets, made farmers reluctant to apply them.
Trung said among the projects applied in practice over the past five years, the project with the highest total area covered just a few dozen hectares.
Khanh of the Long An agriculture department suggested scientific researches should be based on specific requests.
For example, the department would use its budget to ask the Department of Science and Technology to study or research a certain project, and later, use agricultural extension funds for applying them practice through training courses for officials and farmers in districts and communes.
She said businesses could also ask the Department of Science and Technology to conduct research projects, the results of which could be bought for application in production.
This could help ensure that scientific and technological research for agricultural development is practical and efficient, she added. – VNS