"Seed production a bottleneck in Vietnam agriculture"

In the long term, the risk of losing export markets for Vietnam farm produce could occur because of technical barriers set by import countries. Product quality has decreased because of the degeneration of seeds.

Duong Hoa Xo, deputy director of the HCMC Agriculture Department, said though there are many institutes and schools in the city, no new seed variety has been created for many years. Startups in the agriculture sector are focusing on making products and ignoring projects on seed production.

Seedling firms mostly import seeds and seedlings for sale, and don’t intend to produce and cross varieties. As a result, only 12 plant varieties out of 267 varieties in the market were created in Vietnam.

It's costly and risky to invest in projects to create varieties, lesson learnt from some state-owned organizations' projects showed that. Vietnamese companies would rather ‘play it safe’ by importing seeds to sell domestically for profit.

According to Mr. Bui Chi Buu, former head of the Southern Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology, to settle the problem, it would be better to involve the private sector in seed development projects in the form of Public Private Partnership.

At a recent conference, a leader of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said, in the long term, the risk of losing export markets for Vietnam farm produce could occur because of technical barriers set by import countries. Product quality has decreased because of the degeneration of seeds. The difficulties for Vietnam’s farm produce in the next years can be anticipated now.

For example in sugarcane production, Vietnamese enterprises can't compete with regional countries as they have to import seed varieties from abroad. About 4,000 sugarcane varieties were imported within three years, which is contrary to global trends.

Being a rice exporter country, farmers in Mekong Delta (largest 'rice basket' of Vietnam) sow 160-200 different rice varieties. That impacts the rice quality and Vietnam has to sell rice with low price and narrow down its international market to China, ASEAN and African countries.

The topic on how to improve seed production in Vietnam has been raised for a long time but solutions are still being discussed in seminars/workshops and research reports.


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