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Japan to teach farmers use of high-tech equipment

Update: November, 19/2014 - 08:28
Scientists check potatoes planted in a green house in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong. Vietnamese farmers are to learn hi-tech cultivation methods to help products enter export markets with strict food-safety standards. — VNA/VNS Photo Vu Sinh

HCM CITY (VNS) — Japanese entrepreneurs plan to teach Vietnamese farmers advanced farming technologies so they can enter export markets with strict food-safety standards and improve the value of their produce.

During a seminar held last weekend in HCM City about the cooperation potential between Japan and Viet Nam, entrepreneurs and experts from both countries discussed how Viet Nam could improve the quality of its produce.

The Vietnamese agricultural sector includes mostly small-scale, households that generally produce an unsatisfactory quantity and quality of farm products, which has created a hurdle for farm produce to enter the strictly regulated market of Japan.

Japan, which is experienced in hi-tech farming, exports farm produce such as beef and apples to Viet Nam, while the amount of Vietnamese farm produce exported to Japan remains limited.

In Da Lat, two Japanese farmers began working with a local company to produce vegetables in November last year.

According to the investors, they face three challenges in the city: a long rainy reason, outdated equipment and low quality of human resources.

Takaya Hanaoka, general director of An Phu Lacue Limited, said the company wanted to use high-tech equipment and send Vietnamese to Japan to learn how to use advanced technologies.

"Viet Nam has nice weather and people, but we cannot buy advanced technology equipment and materials here. We can buy them easily in Japan. Vietnamese farmers don't know how to use Japanese farming technology. I want to teach them. I hope to bring young students to Japan to study," he said.

In the past, several Japanese enterprises in Viet Nam have visited the country to strike deals to export local products to Japan and to other countries with strict standards.

Nakajima Satoshi, Consul General of Japan in HCM City, told local media on the seminar's sidelines that Viet Nam, for example, was now delivering tuna to Japan.

"Leaders of some provinces in Japan have also visited Viet Nam to seek partners in the agro-forestry-fishery sector," said the consul general.

Nguyen Trung Dung, trade counselor for the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan, said Vietnamese vegetables were in high demand in Japan but food safety rules were hindering entry.

"It's good to export Vietnamese mango to Japan, but we have to improve the strains as well as cultivation and processing technologies. In Japan, I visited a greenhouse encased with glass with mangoes planted inside, and outside was thick snow. A 350g mango sold for US$50," Dung said.

The trade official urged Vietnamese enterprises to cooperate with Japan in acquiring technologies and different strains.

Bringing the equipment to Viet Nam is prohibitively expensive, but Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) has promised that it would ship some equipment to Da Lat.

Nguyen Huu Dat, director of the Post Import Quarantine Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said better technologies would open doors to Vietnamese exports, but approval for export entry takes time.

Between 2008 and 2009, Viet Nam began exporting dragonfruit to the US and Japan. Now, the country has exported roughly 1,400 tonnes of dragonfruit to the market every year, according to the centre.

Investment environment

Yasuzumi Hirotaka, managing director of JETRO's HCM City Office, said in order to attract more investment in Japan, Viet Nam should further reform administrative procedures.

Only two Japanese companies have successfully invested in agricultural sectors in Viet Nam, he said. The others have been reluctant to do so because of cumbersome administrative procedures and the quality of human resources. — VNS

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