|Growing orchid seedlings in HCM City. — VNS Photo nongnghiep.vn|
HCM CITY — HCM City has identified hi-tech agriculture as a key sector and is striving to become a hub for the development and supply of crop and animal strains in the southern region.
According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the city enjoys great advantages in this regard.
For instance, it annually supplies 20,000-24,000 head of dairy cattle to the city and other provinces, mainly Holstein-Friesian hybrids, earning about VNĐ500 billion in the process.
Beef is also a strength since it has imported more than 1,000 brahman and droughmaster breeds of cattle for crossing and creating new breeds with weights of 450-550kg and carcass weights of 52-54 per cent.
The department’s director, Nguyễn Phước Trung, said the city targets having 90,000 dairy cows and supplying 22,000 dairy cows a year by 2020.
It also aims to supply 10,000 tonnes of beef on the hoof and 7,000 head of cow breeds a year by then, he said.
The city also hopes to supply to the market more than one million breeding pigs per year.
It has 47 enterprises engaged in growing and trading plants, the highest number in the country. Since 2010 they have supplied to the market more than 81,000 tonnes of seeds, including 12,109 tonnes of vegetable seeds.
They have also produced 267 new plant strains.
Besides, the city has 35 tissue culture labs, which are capable of producing 16 million seedlings a year, mainly of orchids.
It has many agriculture and bio-technology universities and research institutes.
It has been carrying out programmes to develop high-quality animal and plant strains since 2005.
Trần Xuân Định, deputy director of the Crop Production Department, said the biggest challenge for the farm sector is the research and production of first-generation of vegetable and flower seeds.
Besides, the production of new strains in the domestic market is dominated by foreign firms, he said.
Nguyễn Thiện Nhân, the HCM City’ Party Secretary said the highest value in agriculture is from the production of new strains.
If agricultural lands can be converted into farms where new strains are created, the value of production per hectare would increase rapidly and also reduce the foreign currency outgo on seeds, he said.
The agricultural sector needs to re-evaluate the programmes for developing high-quality seeds and seedlings and animal strains to get a better perspective of the agricultural status since the city is located near the fishery, rice and vegetable production hubs in the Mekong Delta.
As a supplier of plant and animal strains, the city would contribute to the development of agriculture in the region, he said.
He also emphasised the importance of linkages between farmers, scientists, investors and the Government for turning the city into an animal and plant breeding hub for the region.
Prof Dr Bùi Chí Bửu, former director of the Southern Institute for Agricultural Science and
Technology, said the public-private-partnership model plays a very important role in the production of animal and plant strains.
The city needs to invest in research and development and create links between scientists and farmers to ensure practical benefits from research.
Besides, businesses ensure farmers’ produce is distributed and communicate the market’s needs to the scientists, he said.
The city’s decision to invest tens of million of dollars in building the HCM City Biotechnology Centre and the Hi-tech Agricultural Park is in the right direction, and the next step is setting up a laboratory meeting International Seed Testing Association standards to facilitate exports, he added. — VNS