Perspectives on enhancing sustainable agriculture

(VOV) - Over the past 30 years of the renewal process, Vietnam’s agriculture has maintained an average annual growth rate of 3.5% – the highest level in Asia, most notably in Southeast Asia.

The country has not only supplied enough food and foodstuff for the 80-90 million strong population but has also become a world’s leading exporter of a few agricultural products.  

About 7-8 different types of agriculture produce annually hit an export value of more than US$1 billion. The revenues generated from agricultural development have directly benefited and provided a facelift for rural areas.

For the nation as a whole, lower food and foodstuff prices have helped create a less expensive labour force. Thank to lower labour costs Vietnam has become more competitive and this has made it more attractive to foreign investors.

The impetus for agricultural growth mainly comes from strong exploitation of natural resources and abundant labour forces, says Dang Kim Son, Director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD).

However, resources are gradually becoming scarcer. It is high time to reconsider the growth model and development structure to make industrialisation and urbanisation more effective and sustainable, Son adds.

Son analyses that the Government has issued the economic restructuring project for more than one year and after that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has promulgated the agricultural restructuring project.

Just over 20 out of the total 63 provinces and cities have prepared agricultural restructuring projects. These projects cannot be successfully fulfilled if other sectors and the whole economy have not been restructured completely.

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Achievements in recent times show that Vietnam is on the right track. This year agriculture has obtained a quite high growth thanks to favourable weather, the containment of epidemics and recovery of the global market.

Furthermore, localities have started restructuring their agriculture and have identified key products to develop.

However, this is an initial success. In the future, Vietnam must shift from natural resources, such as land, water, forest and sea to intellectual, especially human resources.

It means that the country has to focus on application of science and technology and infrastructure development. In addition, it should pay more attention to personnel organisation, human resource training and institution reform to create a new motive for the sector to further develop.

The work cannot be done in 1, 2 or 3 years, but will take dozens of years to make changes, but, it’s important that Vietnam has made the important initial steps, Son says.

Agricultural production scale has been small, burdening the application of science and technology in developing large-scale special production zones.

Besides, the labour market has not completed yet. Most rural labourers work in unofficial sectors and do not sign long-term contract and pay insurance and taxes. They work in risky and poor conditions and receive low salary.

Furthermore, important resources are labour force and land, which have not been fully and effectively exploited.

With low-starting point, there is a lot of work to be done to boost agricultural development. This is a challenge for not only the agricultural sector but also the healthcare, education and culture sectors, even the whole socio-economic system, Son concludes.