The strategy outlined by Ms Ruston, the Australian Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, identifies economic, innovation and security priorities for both countries that offer the greatest returns and maximizes common interests.
Agriculture is a cornerstone of the bilateral partnership between Vietnam and Australia, covering trade, research, education, development cooperation, innovation and investment, said Ms Ruston in her speech introducing the new strategy.
“We have built the foundations of our agriculture relationship through over 40 years of collaboration in the agriculture, fisheries, forestry and water sectors.”
“It is a foundation that provides us with great opportunities to expand and grow into the future. The Australia in Vietnam Agriculture Strategy recognizes the value of growing our bilateral trade in agriculture and building on the investments both nations are already making.”
Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, H.E. Mr Craig Chittick, supported the development of the strategy.
“As Ambassador, I am constantly impressed with the breadth and depth of our work in agriculture, from projects that help smallholder farmers establish a business supplying safe vegetables to supermarkets in Hanoi, to large Vietnamese companies using Australian technology to pioneer sustainable shrimp farming in Vietnam”, said Ambassador Chittick.
“The Australia in Vietnam Agriculture Strategy sets out the strategic framework for our agricultural relationship across the two missions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and covers all Australian Government agencies in Vietnam”
Food safety in the pork value chain
Ambassador Chittick underscored that supporting the development of the pork value chain in Vietnam is one key aspect of the new strategy that refocuses the bilateral partnership between the two countries.
Food safety is a high priority for citizens and the government. Foodborne diseases are not only a major public health problem but also present a barrier to smallholder Vietnamese farmers who wish to sell in high value domestic and export markets such as those in Australia.
Pork is the most widely consumed meat in Vietnam, but along the pork value chain hazards are pervasive, costs of compliance are high, and enforcement of food safety laws and regulations capacity is weak.
The new Australia-Vietnam PigRISK project envisions the improvement of the livelihoods of smallholder pig farmers in Vietnam concomitantly with the development of food safety as a top priority in the pork value chain.
The project will be managed by the International Livestock Research Institute in collaboration with Vietnamese partners and funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.
The project builds on strong national and international partnerships to address questions including: Is pork in Vietnam safe? What is the extent of the risk? How significant are the risks? How best can these risks be managed?
Using market-based approaches, PigRISK will conduct extensive risk assessment and capacity building in food safety and identify and generate evidence on food safety risks and impacts.
PigRISK affirms the high impact of pork borne disease—considering that 10-15 out of 100 consumers are affected annually by food borne diseases. The project will identify critical points for risk management interventions.
The research findings will influence policy at the national level through the National Food Safety Working Group and the Food Safety Risk Assessment Taskforce and is intended to become one of the foremost groups working on food safety in Vietnam with high international recognition.
Safe pork research will continue to receive financial support from Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research over the next five years, as well as policy support to improve food safety and market integration for other key agriculture commodities in addition to pork.