Nguyễn Thị Bích Thủy, head of the post-harvest technology section of the Việt Nam Agriculture Academy. VNA/VNS Photo
Associated Professor Dr. Nguyễn Thị Bích Thủy, head of the post-harvest technology section of the Việt Nam Agriculture Academy, talks with Bnews – an online newspaper of Vietnam News Agency – about promoting the application of post-harvest technology to remove difficulties for production and business in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is the application of post-harvest technology still considered a bottleneck for Việt Nam's agriculture sector?
Post-harvest technology is the bridge between agricultural production and the market. It plays a very important role in forming and developing the closed chain production line.
In Việt Nam, most agricultural products are produced for local consumption and mainly exported in unprocessed forms. Processing technology has not really developed to meet actual demand. Therefore, changes in consumption will put agricultural products at risk of damage, causing losses to farmers and requiring a 'rescue'.
Do you think the application of post-harvest technology is one of the important solutions to create added value, helping agricultural products escape the need to be 'rescued'?
If the development of post-harvest technology in the country is commensurate with the development of production, it can contribute to reducing post-harvest losses and adding value to agricultural products.
Therefore, post-harvest technology is considered an important solution to ensure food security, increase nutrition and improve farmers' lives.
However, this industry has also faced problems in the production value chain such as low quality of raw materials and processed products, instability of raw materials for processing, limitation in competitiveness of enterprises and dependency in foreign consumption markets.
In the last two years, many post-harvested agricultural products of some localities were seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the complicated developments of the pandemic, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has worked with localities to organise trade promotion activities to promote domestic consumption and export of lychees as it is entering the harvest season.
Post-harvest technology applications will play an important part in ensuring the supply chain for lychee exports to Japan and China is not interrupted, reducing pressure on domestic consumption and increasing value for the product.
Việt Nam is one of the leading countries in exporting some agricultural products, but post-harvest losses are still high. What solutions are needed to minimise post-harvest losses in the near future?
Post-harvest preservation plays a very important role. But the weak application of post-harvest technology has affected product processing.
Additionally, it is difficult for people to access post-harvest technology in order to improve the value, quality and reduce the loss of agricultural products.
Farmers always face difficulties in processing and preservation when their products cannot be sold.
I think it is necessary to combine general and multi-industry solutions as well as innovative solutions to minimise post-harvest losses.
Large-scale coordination solutions such as public-private partnerships (PPPs) can build resilience of the food system in the long term.
PPP is essential to promote agricultural development to meet global food security challenges such as food loss and waste and to promote the participation of small-scale households in commercial markets through access to appropriate technologies, financial services and market information.
How will Việt Nam's post-harvest technology develop in the coming years and catch up with other countries in the region?
It is difficult to give an exact time on when the country will catch up with other countries in the region in terms of post-harvest technology.
In recent years, post-harvest technology has gradually improved. Việt Nam is also developing access to new technology.
We need to assess the current status of post-harvest preservation and processing technology, the capacity of enterprises and the suitability of global technology to develop a roadmap for approaching advanced technology.
It takes time because it involves policy, mechanisms, capital, tax, and many other issues.
Recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with the management agency of small and medium-sized enterprises of Korea, opened supply and demand connection centres to provide information about technology. — VNS