CGIAR strengthens partnerships for sustainable agriculture in Vietnam

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the global largest agriculture innovation network, has implemented more than 100 projects in 40 provinces in Vietnam in the last five years with an investment of US$24 million, benefitting more than 24 million people.

“Research by CGIAR has brought about impacts in many fields of sustainable farming and livestock production, adapting agriculture to climate change, transforming food systems sustainably and improving human and animal health using a One Health approach,” said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh.

At the third coordination meeting of the ministry and the CGIAR, Doanh said that despite rapid growth, Vietnam still confronted numerous important challenges that could hinder it from the pathway to sustainable development.

“The agriculture sector relies on resource-intensive use, many production inputs dependent on the import market, low quality preservation and processing of agricultural products, high post-harvest losses, limited linkages along the value chains and unstable market price, degradation of natural resources and the environment and precarious livelihood of farmers,” he said.

To enter a new phase of development with many difficulties and challenges, Vietnam appreciated and looked forward to continuing to receiving support from donors and international organisations, especially CGIAR, Doanh said.

CGIAR is a global strategic partnership to advance agricultural scientific research to address issues such as alleviating rural poverty, enhancing food security, improving nutrition and health, sustaining management of natural resources, and its works are carried out by 15 agricultural research centres globally.

After 50 years of presence in Vietnam, up to now, eight centres under CGIAR have established offices or implemented projects in  the country.

The third coordination meeting comes as CGIAR transforming to One CGIAR to respond to today's global challenges, including optimising its contribution to many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In the meantime, MARD is developing the Strategy for Sustainable Agricultural Development for the 2021-2030 period.

The meeting provided a unique opportunity to help bring those strands together and contribute to the development of a holistic and comprehensive approach in the follow up of MARD-CGIAR/One CGIAR partnership and collaboration, according to Jean Balie, regional director of One CGIAR Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Balie said that Vietnam had achieved commendable growth, especially in agriculture development.

In the 2016-2020 period, the sector's total export turnover was US$190.32 billion.

Notably, in 2020, despite being greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the export of agricultural, forestry and fishery products still reached a record number of US$41 billion.

In the first 11 months of 2021, the export of agricultural, forestry and fishery products reached nearly US$43.5 billion, up 14.2% over the same period last year and is forecast to reach and exceed the whole year target.

“Challenges raise the question of how Vietnam can develop more sustainably, making this Southeast Asian country a focus for CGIAR work,” he said.

Tran Cong Thang, Director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that to promote the partnership between CGIAR and Vietnam in sustainable agricultural development, joint efforts should be made for developing green agriculture, ecological agriculture, responsible agriculture, and multi-valued agriculture.

“Vietnam needs to restructure, maintain and restore growth along three axis and by fields. The three axis building specialized farming areas for large commodities, developing local products in ecological agriculture; and strengthening processing and the application of science and technology,” he said.

It is also necessary to improve input systems for efficient and sustainable production, including the system of research for better seedling/breeding, veterinary medicine, plant protection, agricultural extension, management and development of input materials, and the infrastructure system, especially the irrigation system.

“It is necessary to develop sustainable agricultural product value chains through key agricultural product chains, specialised farming areas and processing clusters,” he said.

Other important goals were climate change adaptation, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, digital transformation in agriculture and market expansion, Thang said, adding that there was also a need to form a system of enterprises that invest in strategic commodities, linking with farmers through cooperative economy.