Options for Vietnam in Agriculture 4.0

Monday, 2020-08-24 12:20:09
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Thanks to smart agriculture application, Da Lat Hasfarm Company has won the Gold Winner Award for cut flowers and bulbs by the International Association of Horticultural Producers in February 2020. (Photo: NDO/Mai Van Bao)
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NDO – Smart Agriculture 4.0 can be an urgent solution to ensure global food security and quality of agricultural products in the context of more complicated and unpredictable conflicts, instability, diseases and climate change.

Agronomist Dr. Pham S has offered suggestion in an article published on Nhan Dan Weekend to facilitate Vietnam’s agriculture via the application of Agriculture 4.0.

"Go now, go fast and go in the right direction"

During the realisation of smart agriculture, Vietnam should take a quick and appropriate approach, but not rush in its implementation, under the motto of "Go now, go quickly and in the right direction, choosing plants and animals with comparative advantages, using technology that are suitable for production and business goals", according to Dr. Pham S.

It is not necessary to apply all the features under Agriculture 4.0 but depending on the specific conditions of each ecological region and each locality, they may choose to apply four to five breakthrough contents in Agriculture 4.0, Dr. S suggested.

He also pointed to some achievements in smart agriculture Lam Dong Province as lessons for other localities to follow. On the basis of the successful implementation of a hi-tech agricultural programme from 2004-2015, in order to meet the requirements of international integration and adaptation to climate change, the Lam Dong Provincial Party Committee issued a resolution on local comprehensive, sustainable and modern agricultural development for the 2016-2020 period, with orientation to 2025.

The People's Committee of Lam Dong Province also issued a decision promulgating a project to support start-ups in Lam Dong by 2020, together with policies to support start-ups in general and that in agricultural sector in particular, with specific support on human resource training, intellectual property, costs for applying new science - technology, interest rate support, and access to preferential loans, aimed at creating a breakthrough in Agriculture 4.0 in Lam Dong.

Thanks to the realistic policies and efforts to promote its all resources, Lam Dong has witnessed more and more effective start-up projects, with many Agriculture 4.0 farms/businesses have been active in promoting local potential advantages, according to Dr. S, who is also vice chairperson of the People's Committee of Lam Dong Province.

Dr. S revealed that using solutions integrated with Internet of things (IoT) is the core and the most important factor for Agriculture 4.0 in Lam Dong. Currently, the Central Highlands province has 21 enterprises that have applied hi-technology in their operation and farming, including IoT, big data, blockchain, plant growth monitoring cameras, environmental sensors, and greenhouses with automatic adjustment systems linked with computers and smart phones to automatically control humidity, temperature, irrigation and nutrition for crops.

Other hi-technologies such as in-vitro propagation, LED light, smart GIS pest management and prediction system and electronic traceability have been deployed to boost a local modern, branded and high-quality agriculture.

Hi-tech has been applied on many local vegetable, flower, strawberry, tomato and dairy farms, with many farms of them generating annual revenue of VND5-8 billion per ha, even as high as VND24 billion per ha from luxury flower farms.

Synchronous solutions needed

In order to boost Agriculture 4.0 in accordance with the practical conditions in Vietnam, Dr. S – on the basis of Lam Dong Province’s initial results in hi-tech agriculture – offered some hints, with the first is calling for the Government to continue developing policies that encourage organisations and individuals to pour resources in making breakthrough in Agriculture 4.0 development with a reasonable roadmap and resources.

Central agencies, localities, businesses and farmers need to adhere to the Party and State’s guiding documents on actively participating in the Industry 4.0 to serve as a basis for proper approach and realisation of Agriculture 4.0 that closely linked to the specific conditions of each commodity in each locality, enterprise and farm.

Local businesses must also strengthen their capacity to access Agriculture 4.0. Accordingly, it is necessary to study and apply synthetic factors closely to specific local conditions to choose suitable technology solutions. IoT sensors can be used in most agricultural farms for automatic control, improvement and response to climate change in greenhouse production, while LED technology should be used to optimise crop growth, Dr. S suggested.

He also urged for improving the efficiency of solar power generation, using robots, applying financial management technology, and putting drones in use to collect and analyse data, as well as offered recommendations on pest prevention and control and weather forecasting.

Another important solution is to focus on human resource training, especially high-quality human resources, Dr. S added, saying that it is also necessary to expand international cooperation to absorb the world technology in order to shorten the application period in Vietnam with high production efficiency.

While universities focus on training human resources, specialised research institutes in IT need to research both software and hardware to create new, breakthrough products, with special attention paid to manufacturing equipment for the application of IoT solutions.

It is necessary to invest in science - technology programmes with high applicability and promote the transfer of new breakthrough technologies to serve the development Agriculture 4.0.

Ministries, agencies, research institutes and associations should regularly organise symposiums and exhibitions introducing new products and technologies for Agriculture 4.0, based on the actual annual requirements.

Increasing the market forecast ability is another solution to serve as a basis for orienting the production of commodity agricultural products for export markets according to commitments under free trade agreements (FTAs), especially new generation FTAs Vietnam has signed with its partners such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the European Union - Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

The Government needs to continue providing orientation and offering favourable policies to encourage inventors, research institutes and enterprises to introduce hardware technology and equipment serving Agriculture 4.0.

Depending on the comparative advantages of the agricultural sector in each region and province, there should be a sustainable agricultural development strategy by 2025 with a vision to 2035, as well as the continued issuance of policies that closely follow production practices in order to mobilise resources for the comprehensive development of Agriculture 4.0, from which to actively invest in technologies that are suitable to each ecological region and production scale.

To create a new vitality for the agricultural sector, Vietnam needs more large-scale smart agricultural enterprises capable of joining the international integration and the global value chain, Dr. S concluded.