Public-private-partnerships to develop value chain in agricutlture: Bayer Vietnam

Monday, Oct 01, 2018 07:00

Modern technologies help farmers improve yields. Viet Nam seeks to become one of the 15 most developed agricultural economies in the world. — VNS Photo

At the World Economic Forum on ASEAN (WEF ASEAN) held in Ha Noi last month, Vietnamese leaders called for greater private sector involvement to transform agriculture in Southeast Asian countries including Viet Nam by using the latest technologies. Viet Nam also revealed its goal of becoming one of the 15 most developed agricultural economies in the world. Viet Nam News spoke with Kohei Sakata, General Director of Bayer Vietnam, to understand how the company perceives the importance of digitising agriculture and its investment in the sector in Viet Nam.

Viet Nam and the world are entering a new era of technology. How do you see the importance of digitising agriculture, especially in Viet Nam?

Kohei Sakata, General Director of Bayer Vietnam

As a matter of fact, the globe, including Vieät Nam, is entering the Industry 4.0 era, it is crucial for firms and organisations operating in the agricultural sector, especially in developing and farming-dependent countries, to embrace modern technologies for effective improvements.

For Viet Nam, unleashing the possibilities of modern agriculture to support sustainable and inclusive development requires enormous investment, collaboration and a stable policy and regulatory environment. All three factors are critical when Vieät Nam harnesses cutting-edge technology to accelerate its development.

Over the recent decades more and more exciting technological innovations have reached the hands of farmers. More people have access to safe, quality food than ever before because farmers now have access to technology developed over the years. So as to meet such an objective, digitisation in agriculture is a breakthrough solution and the fourth industrial revolution is a valuable chance to discover such technologies. The Prime Minister also shared his vision at the 2018 WEF ASEAN in Ha Noi of making Viet Nam one of the 15 most developed agricultural economies in the world by adopting more innovations.

At Bayer, we are passionate about fulfilling the vision with responsibility, through innovation and science, putting our best efforts to enforce both technological innovation and social innovation. The ambition is to underline our strong commitment to promoting sustainable and holistic growth in Vietnamese communities.

How do you see the role of public-private-partnerships (PPP) in taking Viet Nam’s agricultural sector to a new level? Are there any PPP initiatives that Bayer has or plans in Viet Nam?

PPP is an opportunity to develop a value chain model which gives smallholder farmers access to sustainable agricultural solutions and market access as well as to enhance the policy and regulatory environment that attracts further investment to power the next era of agricultural innovation. The use of global best practices and science-based decision making play a vital role in taking Viet Nam’s agricultural sector to a new level. We do share the same vision with and are willing to support the Vietnamese government for better concurrent development of the nation based on leveraging the role of PPP.

Since November 2017 Bayer has been co-chairing the PPP Rice Taskforce with the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture Development and playing a pivotal role in developing a sustainable rice farming value chain model and standards based on its experience from the Better Rice Initiative Project and Rice Value Chain project. Our company works with other local and multinational industry leaders to initiate projects as well as to provide suitable practices in cultivation methodology, processing, market linkage, and branding of rice grown in Viet Nam with sustainable and high quality standards.

As a large company operating in the agricultural sector, what are the advanced technologies Bayer can bring to Viet Nam?

Digital tools have shaped many industries and we are just scratching the surface of what it means for agriculture. Through the power of advanced technologies and data analytics, our company can help increase farmer productivity and sustainability. With advanced technologies and supply chain in more than 60 nations across the globe, we aim for quick expansion and adaptation in Viet Nam.

As such, digital farming is planned to enhance and make cultivation a more rapid, exact, effective, and sustainable process for all Vietnamese farmers, which is also in line with the ambition of the fourth industrial revolution. With this tool, we will be the pioneer in using artificial intelligence (AI) and digital data to help farmers predict problems likely to occur on the field and come up with timely solutions. Digital farming allows for more targeted and efficient use of agricultural inputs – for example using the right distribution of fertilisers and crop protection for local conditions resulting in less total volume – increasing productivity while reducing the strain on natural resources.

Apart from that, our advanced technologies such as satellite imagery, application algorithms, hi-tech sensors, phone applications or GPS devices, etc are able to assist farms in making decisions on pests, floods, droughts and risk management through the seasons.

Additionally, Climate, a subsidiary of Bayer, is currently delivering smallholder farmers in India relevant agronomic information and advice through the pilot launch of FarmRise Mobile Farm Care. The company intends to broadly launch FarmRise in India in 2019, with additional expansion plans in the future in Asia, Africa and South America.

Through the power of new digital tools and data analytics, we can help improve farmer productivity and sustainability.

What are the key challenges to adopting advanced technologies in Viet Nam?

Generally speaking, agriculture in Vieät Nam is facing a number of obstacles such as shrinking farmlands, labour shortages, increased labour costs, limited financial capacity of small farmers, etc. With digital solutions and abilities, our company creates opportunities for Vietnamese farmers to improve sustainable productivity, enhance family and community life, and help improve the competitiveness of Vieät Nam’s agriculture in the international market.

As for technology adoption, there are two key challenges for the country to overcome. Firstly, there exists a lack of an extensive business network, an inability to remove obstacles for input materials, low product quality, adapting to technological advances in agriculture, and brand building. Secondly, Vieât Nam has great potential for agricultural development, but the most important thing is to find a “key ruling card” for the sector. The card for agricultural development is a shrewd combination of technology and communication since new technologies are not too difficult to acquire, but it is not easy for farmers to utilize and update hi-tech products regularly either.

Given the challenges, we believe that such obstacles can be best addressed by strong collaboration in the areas of research, education, communication and training. Our capabilities and ambitions will be the key drivers assisting Vietnamese with adopting advanced technologies. — VNS

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