|In Viet Nam last year, cassava and related products brought an export value of US$1.13 million.— Photo baolaocai
HA NOI (VNS)— The International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) on Tuesday launched its new global research strategy for the 2014-20 period in Ha Noi.
The strategy aims to strengthen food security and bioefficiency in tropical countries, including Viet Nam.
It defines three objectives which are central for creating upward spirals of sustainable growth: to make affordable high-quality food readily available to the rural and urban poor by boosting agriculture productivity and enhancing the nutritional quality of staple crops; to promote rural income growth by making smallholder farming more competitive and market-oriented through improved agricultural value chains; and to provide the means to develop more intensive and competitive agriculture in an environmental friendly manner.
Under the strategy, in the coming years, CIAT will continue to concentrate on developing more resilient and productive crop varieties, including common beans, cassava, tropical forages and rice, the four vital crops in the tropical and subtropical areas.
CIAT Director General Ruben Echeverria said that tropical countries face many challenges during their economic growth, including urbanisation and environmental pollution, and added that the improvement of crops and sustainable agriculture could help address the challenges.
CIAT emphasised the importance of cassava, animal feed and sustainable soil management in achieving bioefficiency in Asia.
According to CIAT, cassava is the third-most important food crop in the tropical region and also serves as livestock feed and industrial raw material.
About eight million rural households across Southeast Asia depend on the annual production of about 75 million tonnes of cassava grown in four million hectares.
In Viet Nam last year, cassava and related products brought an export value of US$1.13 million.
Head of Viet Nam Academy of Agriculture Sciences, Nguyen Van Bo said that cassava was earlier blamed for soil degradation.
However, if it is grown with the right techniques, it is able to adapt to the changing climate and generate more income for farmers, because it can be used as animal feed and as raw material for bio-energy and pharmaceutical industries.
"Science and technology are an important factor in helping improve the farmers' income," he said, calling for further scientific cooperation between Viet Nam and its international partners.
The CIAT's new strategy is expected to promote cooperation in developing more resilient and productive varieties and technology transfer.
The CIAT based in Colombia since 1967 is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. CIAT develops technologies, methods, and knowledge that better enable farmers, mainly smallholders, to enhance eco-efficiency in agriculture. — VNS