Few firms develop farm technology: ministry

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 18:50

Agricultural oficials say the use of high-tech methods is needed to produce better quality products and increase farmers' incomes. — Illustrative photo baochinhphu.vn

HCM CITY (Biz Hub) — Only 3.3 per cent of nationwide agricultural enterprises have spent money on the research and development of technology, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Ministry officials told a meeting in HCM City on November 24 that Viet Nam has 33,000 companies dealing in agriculture, and 93 per cent of them are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Only about 1,100 firms among them have invested in the research and development of technology with combined spending of about VND5.44 trillion, or US$241.78 million.

The country has around 2,000 businesses specialising in science and technology, but less than 30 of them develop technology for farming.

Officials said that, despite apprarent demand for better technology, limited financial capacity and human resources have hindered the SMEs from investing in it.

While technology investments require great amounts of capital, the firms are facing significant difficulties in accessing long-term loans with reasonable interest rates.

Huynh Quang Dau, General Director of the An Giang Fruit-Vegetable & Foodstuff JSC, reportedly said farmers are much in need of science and technology to create safe products with high productivity, and earn higher incomes.

His company has studied and manufactured machines to classify maize, helping cut time and costs for production. It has also researched machines that split soybean and planned to apply them by the end of this year.

However, he said, the firm finds a lot of difficulties in the application of the equipment since the farmers' ability to use new techniques is limited.

A representative from the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development said the Government has provided many incentives related to taxes, fees, land rents, infrastructure and human resources to encourage businesses to invest in science and technology.

But legal documents on these policies remain incoherent, causing obstacles in their implementation. The authorities need to talk more to enterprises to solve the shortcomings, he said.

During an August meeting in HCM City, agricultural officials said the use of high-tech methods was needed to produce high-quality products and increase farmers' incomes.

Dinh Minh Hiep, the head of the Agriculture Hi-Tech Park of HCM City's management board, said the quality and competitiveness of many products remained low, and the majority of exported products were in the raw state.

Ministry of Science and Technology official Vu Van Khiem said that, with increasing non-trade barriers set by importing countries, Viet Nam had no choice but to apply high-tech production, storage and distribution to stay afloat in the domestic market and increase exports.

Last October, Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Vu Tien Loc told a business forum that the domestic agricultural sector would face great challenges when the country became part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

He said that the sector needed to be restructured, with more attention paid to the quality rather than the quantity, so that it can well adapt to global integration.

According to the agriculture ministry, Viet Nam's export revenues of agriculture, forest and aquatic products totalled $21.7 billion during the first nine months of this year, down five per cent over the same period last year. — VNS

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