The Hanoitimes - Australia has recently announced its agriculture strategy in Vietnam, identifying economy, innovation and security as priorities in the agriculture cooperation between the two countries.
Such a move by Australia was the latest in international commitments in response to Vietnam’s calls for international support and cooperation in one of the key sectors of its economy.
The Government has been calling for reform in the agricultural sector for years to little avail, until a series of intense natural disasters hit Vietnam last year. The fatal floods in northern and central Vietnam, followed by prolonged drought in southern areas occurred in tandem with increasingly severe saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta - the largest rice producing region in the country. Such disasters left Vietnam’s agriculture sector - a key contributor to the country’s economic development - with unprecedented minus growth for the first time in decades.
It was a big wakeup call to both the Vietnamese Government from central to provincial levels, and also society as a whole, on how vulnerable the country’s traditional ways of working on the fields are to natural weather disasters in times of climate change. The race to modernise the farming sector by applying more advanced technologies in producing, harvesting and post-harvest stages in an effort to reduce farmers’ reliance on nature, started to heat up.
In addition to changes in land and capital policies, Vietnam has approved plans to build ten agricultural zones applying high-tech methods in Hau Giang, Phu Yen, Thai Nguyen, Quang Ninh, Thanh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong, HCM City, Binh Duong and Can Tho provinces by 2020. The number is expected to more than double to 22 zones by 2030. In the meantime, several high-tech agricultural centres at a municipal level have started popping up across the country.
Vietnamese leaders constantly called and aggressively pushed lower levels to engage more in the sector’s reform, while seeking technological and financial support from other countries. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc this year paid State visits to Japan and the Netherlands, two of the leading countries in the agriculture production, while Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also visited Vietnam. President Rivlin visited the VinEco farm, which uses Israeli technologies to grow vegetables.
Dozens of meetings at ministerial levels and below between Vietnam and several other countries that are strong in agricultural technology like Australia and the Republic of Korea, also took place. Vietnamese enterprises and farmers found new ways of farming through cooperation with international businesses or study trips to agriculturally-advanced countries and Israel has been one of the most popular destinations.
In order to support sustainable agriculture in Vietnam, the Netherlands and Vietnam signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement on Climate Change Adaptation and Water Management in 2010; and another on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in 2014.