Editor’s note: In this entry submitted to the “Ky Vong Viet Nam 20 Nam Toi” (“My Expectations for Vietnam in 20 Years”) writing contest, Pham Van Chau Em, a 30-year-old, would like Vietnam to turn into an agricultural power by 2035.
I’ve cherished my faith and hopes that 20 years from now, Vietnamese farmers would get rich on the country’s agricultural economy. Vietnam would top the world as a produce exporter in terms of both quantity and quality.
Over the history of the country’s agricultural development, the sector has shifted from producing mainly to cater to domestic demand to a key economic division which boasts substantial export volumes (in 2013, Vietnam was the world’s leading rice exporter).
Vietnam has seen notable strides in intensive farming and growing and raising various types of plants and cattle. The sector’s productivity has also been on a constant rise over recent years, with the following year’s yields always higher than those of the previous one. For instance, the yield was 100,600 metric tons in 2009 and rose to 102,000 and then 106,000 metric tons in 2010 and 2011 respectively, according to the General Department of Statistics.
People working in the agricultural sector make up over half of the country’s total labor force in the working age. The total area earmarked for agricultural production is huge. According to the statistics department, the area was 100,500 hectares in 2009, and inched up to 100,700 and 100,800 hectares in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
However, the sector constituted a modest proportion of the country’s gross domestic product growth.
Our agriculture is considered outdated and slow to progress. It is also characterized by spontaneity, haphazard production, low yields and poor quality compared to other countries in the region. These weaknesses have left the country struggling to cater to such fastidious markets as Japan, South Korea, China or the European Union.
Despite its shortcomings, I strongly believe that by 2035, Vietnam will top the world, or at least Asia, regarding produce exports.
Our produce would surpass others not only in quantity, but also quality, and penetrate deep into the world’s picky markets.
I believe that in the next 20 years, Vietnam will successfully build a comprehensively developed agricultural economy. The sector would open up opportunities for farmers to get rich right in their hometown.
Measures that would turn expectations into reality
For Vietnam to become a world agriculture power, I think necessary temporary and long-term solutions are those listed below:
Concerning mechanisms: Changes and adjustments should be made to sectoral leaders’ mentality and the mechanisms in market orientation.
Research should be conducted on potential markets and demands. Spontaneous, small-scale production should also be avoided. These are the reasons behind the recurrent paradox of good crops and dirt-cheap prices, and the other way round.
Efforts should also be made to intensify national policies on agriculture, and build value chains in agriculture. Better research on saplings, innovative care-taking techniques and tightened control over produce quality are also required.
Investment in technological, scientific applications: A long-running vision is also needed when it comes to investing in hi-end agricultural machinery so as to boost yields and quality and sustain environmentally-friendly growth.
Boosting agricultural aid: Apart from the aforementioned solutions, the state should provide assistance for scientific research in agriculture, and encourage and honor those with notable contributions to the sector’s growth.
It’s advisable that the government provide loans for farmers via the central bank system, with a view to encouraging them to apply cutting-edge technology in their farming.
A policy to ensure outlets for farmers probably needs consideration so that they would be rest assured and focus on their job. The policy is also meant to cushion farmers from having low rates imposed on them by traders, and disruptive, scheming forces. The success of a model called the large model paddy field should also be drawn upon. The model, which was recently implemented in such provinces as An Giang, Dong Thap and Vinh Phuc, boasts intensive technological intervention.
Transferring technological applications to farmers: Vietnamese farmers are considered the most eager to learn compared to their counterparts in other countries. However, their performance remains inadequate due to their limited education and access to technological advances, as well as outdated cultivation practices and terrain. Therefore the state should facilitate their learning via agricultural seminars and direct exchanges between scientists and farmers. They should also adopt the latest technology by drawing upon experience from agriculturally advanced countries, and receive training to fully tap into the technological applications.
Forging a close link between leaders of the agriculture sector, scientists and farmers: The ties are meant to bolster farmers’ faith and motivation. There should also be a mechanism to turn scientists into trustworthy friends of farmers, rather than disseminators of knowledge and expertise.
Sectoral leaders of different levels are also required to have an overall vision and devise radical measures to seek outlets for local produce. They are also advised to be knowledgeable about the local and foreign markets, assist farmers in approaching and receiving hi-end technology, find out about local needs and wants, and provide timely encouragement for exemplary individuals.
As for scientists, they need to step up their research efforts, be visionary about making climatic predictions, quickly access cutting-edge agricultural techniques from other countries, and offer efficient guidance and assistance to farmers.
With all this assistance from sectoral leaders and scientists, farmers would not worry about production and outlets for their produce. For their part, farmers also need to make commitments that they would abide by rules on ensuring produce quality.
If all these aforementioned solutions are to be adopted in tandem, I hold a conviction that in less than 20 years, Vietnam would make itself known as an agricultural power. Its farmers would be affluent, skilled, tech-savvy and fully able to make the most of their forefathers’ fertile land.
“Ky Vong Viet Nam 20 Nam Toi” is a competition organized by the World Bank in Vietnam and Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that encourages local youths to write down their wildest, yet feasible, dreams about how Vietnam will change in 20 years’ time.