Smarter farmer means more sustainable agriculture, says executive

Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018 09:00

Krysta Harden, Senior Vice President, External Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer, Corteva Agriscience. -- VNS Photo

The three-day International Rice Congress opened on Monday in Singapore with the participation of 1,500 thought-leaders, scientists, policymakers, agriculture experts, investors, and others from 40 nations. Viet Nam News caught up with Krysta Harden, senior vice president, external affairs, and chief sustainability officer, Corteva Agriscience, agriculture division of DowDuPont, platinum sponsor of the event, and asked her how to develop sustainable agriculture and how farmers can benefit from rice.

What are the role and achievements of the 5th International Rice Congress?

The congress has brought many different voices together from around the world. Great discussions are happening. Delegates have discussed sustainable farming and how we can make sure of a good rice crop, how rice is able to compete and stay on the farm. So we have researches, we have technologies and we can see some of the finest scientists in the world here. They are talking about what will happen to rice in the future and how technology can improve. We also had discussions with some partners about technology, like drones in digital agriculture, in rice as well. So a lot of exciting ideas come out at a meeting like this.

Why did Corteva sign the multi-year framework agreement on collaborative rice research with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)?

The IRRI is a great rice research partner. They are leaders in rice technology and research across Asia. We are looking at what IRRI has researched and what achievements of theirs we can use. And this collaboration is something we want. IRRI can support us in training and providing education to farmers, working with women farmers, something that is very important for our company. We recognise a number of opportunities to work with IRRI. We feel that by combining the R&D capabilities of Corteva and IRRI we can actually bring the best seed and hybrid seed technology to farmers around the world.

For example, Viet Nam is great in terms of rice globally. Forty five per cent of rice exports comes from Asia, and Viet Nam is the third largest exporter globally. If we look at farmers, we are facing challenges, especially in Viet Nam, like water shortage, salinity and many other serious problems in the Mekong Delta. All require different technologies to overcome. One initiative we have undertaken with IRRI is direct seeding of rice. So most areas in Viet Nam use direct rice seeding. In Viet Nam, we have problems with water availability. Combining all, we should have a package that includes best-in-class hybrid seed technology, crop protection and technology mechanisation that can allow us to use seeds more easily, more precisely so farmers can get the best yields in term of quantity and quality. We will invest in these technologies in Viet Nam and will help Vietnamese farmers benefit.

What does Corteva do for sustainability in agriculture?

For us, farmers are at the heart of our business. We are making sure they will have the tools they need for sustainability. We will provide them with a package of good hybrid seeds which can cope with drowning, with diseases. So investing in research allows us to have better seeds. Also crop protection products meet highest environmental standards so that they can be sustainable.

As you might know, Corteva has just received the 2018 Green Chemistry Challenge Award for RinskorTM active, a rice herbicide that provides a sustainable solution for rice farmers to control grass and broadleaf and sedge weeds. The American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute’s award, given to companies and institutes that have developed a new process or product that helps protect public health and the environment, is the US’s most prestigious award for green chemistry innovations.

We will use drones and other digital platforms to help them become more sustainable in producing food for the world.

Our researches can improve farming capability and take better care of natural resources.

Do you have any suggestions for Vietnamese agriculture?

We all know that Viet Nam is now one of the largest rice exporters in the world, and according to FAO data, Viet Nam should improve the quality of rice for exports. Viet Nam needs technology and to change the way of doing agriculture. To help farmers, we will work with them, train them in cultivating rice in a new way and provide them with good seeds for better crops and safe products for consumers. We talk about sustainability and we know whether hybrid seeds or crop protection solutions are better for the farmer and more sustainable. One part of sustainability is farmers’ education because we feel that a smarter farmer and more profitable farmer equals more sustainable agriculture. – VNS

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