Nearly 70% of the workforce in Vietnam is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, said Trinh Ngoc Thai, vice chairman of Vietnam Peace and Development Fund, in a keynote address on the first day of the conference.
Agriculture, he said, accounts for 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and an even greater percentage of the gross national product (GNP).
However, agriculture in Vietnam today is neither sustainable nor profitable and in the midst of the transition to a more industrial society faces greater challenges than at any time in the nation’s history.
Increasing crop diversity and implementing sustainable agricultural practices therefore are critically important to build better profits into current farming systems, and provide the incentive needed to implement new practices.
In addition, sustainable agriculture must achieve a balance between environment and profit and that is another difficult challenge facing agriculture in Vietnam. He noted much work need be done in connection with diversifying crop rotations throughout the nation to address these issues.
Le Quoc Doanh, deputy minister of MARD, in turn dilated on the need to increase labour productivity and to develop higher yielding crops to boost competitiveness of agriculture in the global marketplace.
Improving rural infrastructure such as roads, he said, is also crucial to raising productivity because it reduces shipping costs and the loss of perishable produce.
Lastly, DM Doanh emphasized the need for better use of information technology to support better crop, fertilizer and pesticide selection; adding that IT could also be used to improve land and water management, provide improved access to weather information, and connect farmers to sources of credit.