Farra Siregar, managing director of DuPont Viet Nam, a branch of the global chemical giant that makes high-yield seeds, speaks about food security in Viet Nam and the world.
What are the key challenges for food security in Viet Nam?
Food security is a challenge and meeting it is an important commitment that all of us across the value chain need to make. I don't think it is Viet Nam's challenge. It is a global challenge. In fact I think Viet Nam has an opportunity to not only contribute to food security for the country self-efficiently but also globally, because it is a leading rice exporter.
The first challenge is availability, but the reality is that there is enough food being grown around the world. More importantly, we should think about it in terms of accessibility, affordability of food as well as quality and safety of food.
We feel that scientific solutions and collaboration across the value chain is necessary.
For example, at the farm level, we need to increase the yield because we need to increase the availability of food. We need better seeds, better cultivation methods and see how can we have sustainable farms. So at the farm level, there are a lot of things we can do.
In food processing, we should pay attention to the issue of nutrition. There is a way we can actually add more nutrition into the food, keep it tasting good and keep it feeling good.
The final thing is food wastage. A lot of the food grown on the farm does not make it to the table, and at the same time, so many people go hungry.
I think this is a basic thing to work on – the preservation of food and packaging of food so that safe food can be brought to the table. Science can help us do that but we need every single part of the value chain to collaborate and work with each other.
This event is a joint commitment and invitation for the government, academia, NGOs and other people in the value chain to work with us.
Can you tell us what DuPont has done in Viet Nam?
Basically, the Mekong Delta is a major rice cultivation area. There, it is a fact that shrimp farming exists along with rice cultivation. During the rainy season, farmers cultivate rice but in the dry season, they take the opportunity to raise shrimp. They get salt in the water after shrimp breeding and it becomes a serious issue because they don't have high yields for rice and can lose harvests.
DuPont is here to re-develop the rice seed that increases its resilience and yield so the farmer can have successful farming during the raining season with rice and the dry season with shrimp. We have the science to do this, but we have to work with farmers and local governments to actually make it happen.
How can we improve the situation, not only to guarantee food security for Viet Nam but to do so at the global level?
We can bring our latest technologies and scientists to address all problems.
Education is an important work. Farmers should be educated on how to do better farming and even mothers should be taught how to take care of children with enough nutrition. We have a lot of things to do together here.
Can you comment on the Vietnamese Government's reaction to the food security problem?
It's very good. We have discussed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. They have a real focus on food security and have already submitted a long-term national plan on the issue (for 2020 with a vision until 2030). I would say that in terms of making plans, the Vietnamese Government is making very good progress. As far as we are concerned, we have the opportunity here in Viet Nam not only to ensure national food sufficiency, but also contribute to global food security because Viet Nam is a leading food exporter. — VNS