However, the application of high technologies in agricultural production in the region is still facing a range of inadequacies which has not brought about the high economic efficiency that is desired.
More businesses investing in agriculture
Over the past three years, the Red River Delta has consistently seen heavily invested hi-tech agricultural development projects from enterprises. In Thai Binh province, TH Group has just launched its hi-tech agricultural project on producing organic vegetables and high quality rice in Dung Nghia commune, which is located in the Vu Thu district, with an investment of more than VND3 trillion on a production area of about 3,000 ha. In particular, the area for production of safe vegetables and fruits is expected to reach around 1,000 ha, while the area for rice cultivation and rice oil production is projected to reach an estimate of 2,000 ha.
This is one of many agricultural investment projects being implemented in Thai Binh. The province has also distributed licences to over 33 projects with a total recorded capital of nearly VND25.7 trillion, including 11 investment projects with a total capital of over VND2 trillion and 19 feasible study projects, with a registered capital of nearly VND21 trillion, mainly to be used for manufacturing of hi-tech agricultural products, aquaculture and seafood.
There are several major projects among them that can be named, such as the project for high quality rice, aquaculture project, and also the projects relating to seafood cultivation combined with ecological services in Tien Hai district by Hanoi Export-Import Company (GELEXIMCO), with a total investment of VND1.2 trillion.
There are no "big" investment figures such as the one in Thai Binh, but hi-tech agriculture in Bac Ninh province has recorded remarkable progress. Head of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) Nguyen Van Dai stated that in the past two years, many local enterprises have promoted the application of high technologies in agricultural production. An effective and noteworthy model would be the 11.2 ha hi-tech perilla leaf production model for export which was invested by Ho Guom Group JSC in Ngoc Kham village (Lam Thao commune, Luong Tai district) with a total capital of VND150 billion.
At present, the company has planted two ha of perilla and started harvesting. It exported four consignments to Japan. With the price of VND500-700 per leaf, according to Project Director Nguyen Xuan Bang, one ha of perilla will yield about 17-18 million leaves, generating a turnover about VND2.5 billion. For localities with small agricultural land like Bac Ninh, Bang further expressed that if there is a good agricultural investment, the economic value of agriculture will not be inferior to any field.
Located in the northern key economic zone adjacent to Hanoi, Vinh Phuc province has favourable conditions to develop a hi-tech agriculture. Grasping its advantages since 2014, Vinh Phuc provincial Department of Science and Technology has developed and piloted some models in Vinh Tuong, Tam Dao and Vinh Yen.
Based on the achieved results, many other models of high technology application in agricultural production have been born, attracting enterprises to invest in this field. Recently, Vingroup has started construction on its first glass house named VinECO to produce safe agricultural products with Israeli technologies, covering an area of over 24 ha in Tam Dao district.
In addition, other provinces in the Red River Delta, such as Nam Dinh, Hai Phong, Hung Yen and Hanoi, are also attractive destinations for hi-tech agricultural investors, with many large investment projects. Deputy Head of Technology Application and Development Department (Ministry of Science and Technology) Tran Thi Hong Lan stated that the role of science and technology are important factors for the region’s socio-economic development. Therefore, the development of hi-tech agriculture is the key to help the Red River Delta to continue successfully implementing agricultural economic restructuring, affirming its role as a driving force for the overall development of the entire country.
Support from businesses needed
The hi-tech orchid planting model by Nguyen Van Thuy's family in Song Mai commune, Bac Giang city, Bac Giang province, generates high economic efficiency. (Credit: NDO)
Currently, although the Red River Delta has been forming hi-tech agricultural complex, large-scale models resulting in economic efficiency, it is still not considered enough. Meanwhile, small- and medium-scale models have not yet met the requirements and conditions to become hi-tech agricultural models.
Head of Bac Ninh’s DARD Nguyen Van Dai stated that besides some agricultural models invested and developed by big corporations, most of the models have only developed in the direction of hi-technology, but not truly ascertain the hi-tech agricultural models desired. Many models by local people now simply stop at constructing greenhouses with automatic irrigation systems, so it does not bring the true value of hi-tech agriculture.
Hi-tech agriculture needs the participation of businesses, as they gather eligible resources that are needed to develop professionally. Therefore, enterprises must be considered a centre of innovation, development and implementation of mechanisms and policies to encourage business communities to invest in research, development and application of science in agriculture, in order to improve the efficiency of production and business activities and building brand names.
Developing sustainable agriculture requires nothing other than applying science and technology to all stages of production, from farming, harvesting, processing to management. In fact, only 1% of all businesses in the country invest in agriculture, of which 60% are small businesses; this figure is far too small and agriculture requires much more support from the business community. In order to scale up agricultural models, as reflected by relevant units, one of the biggest difficulties for enterprises is the ability to access land as it is necessary to have a large land bank to implement large-scale farms.
Thai Binh is one amongst several other localities doing well in attracting investment from enterprises in agriculture. In a short period of time, the province has made a new way to implement the Land Law, while opening up a new extended mechanism for land use limit, that is, local government represents locals to sign contracts to lease land for agricultural production, with duration of 20 years or more.
Thanks to this mechanism, Thai Binh has accumulated more than 5,000 ha of agricultural land, creating favourable conditions for agricultural enterprises to continue scaling up their large-scale fields and farming economic models. This as a result has displayed the economic advantages sourced from large-scale agricultural land and created breakthroughs for the establishment of secondary markets on agricultural land, coupled with capturing farmers’ interests.
Speaking at a recent Thai Binh’s agriculture and rural investment promotion conference, Chairman of the provincial People's Committee Nguyen Hong Dien affirmed that Thai Binh's authorities and locals always consider enterprises essential in regards to developing local economy. The province is committed to accompanying the business community, providing enterprises the most favourable support in all aspects to carry out investment, while at the same time fully applying existing preferential mechanisms and policies by the State for enterprises.
According to Deputy Head Tran Thi Hong Lan, in addition to efforts from each enterprise for the development of hi-tech agriculture in the Red River Delta, it is necessary to develop suitable and effective support mechanisms to facilitate the ease of enterprises’ investment in this field, while promoting linkage, renewal and transfer of technologies in agricultural production.
In addition, localities in the region will need to connect to find solutions to determine their needs for technological application and innovation, promote the model of five-side linking (the State, investors, farmers, scientist and banks) and enhance effective collaboration towards value chains in agricultural production.
It is equally important to select technology application models with quality and suitability for the region, especially when considering the suitability for crops towards value chain production linking, from seedling selection, cultivation to post-harvest processing and preservation.