Vietnam, Netherlands strengthen cooperation on agricultural value chain

Opportunities, challenges and solutions to enhance cooperation in the field of food security and an improved agricultural value chain in Vietnam were the main theme of a seminar held in Hanoi on October 24 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and a group of fifteen agricultural companies from the Netherlands.

By Nghiem Trung (Nhan Dan online)

The seminar brings together experts from MARD and a group of 15 agricultural companies from the Netherlands. (Credit: Nghiem Trung/NDO)

Leading the Dutch business delegation participating in the event was Michiel van Erkel, Director of International Agribusiness. The seminar was organised within the framework of the visit to Vietnam by Marten van den Berg, Dutch Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade, from October 24-25.

Speaking at the event, Tran Kim Long, director of the MARD’s Department of International Cooperation, said that the Vietnamese ministry and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs had developed an agreement on strategic cooperation in the field of agriculture. The seminar was a good opportunity for Vietnam’s State management agencies and enterprises and the Netherlands to share information, ideas and suggestions for cooperation programmes as a part of the new trend for investment and trade in agriculture, Long said.

At the seminar, the two sides discussed their expertise and innovation in agriculture, particularly in ensuring food security and avoiding losses of food. The two sides also expressed interest in transfers of knowledge and technology in agriculture in order to overcome the challenges of food security and food safety in Vietnam.

According to Long, Vietnam’s agricultural sector is facing many challenges and difficulties, as competition for labour, land and water resources increases due to the country’s urbanisation and industrial development. Moreover, labour costs are increasing, affecting the competitiveness of agricultural products in Vietnam, which are normally produced at a low cost. The excessive use of inputs and natural resources was also a hot issue.

In the future, the agricultural sector should ensure added value and reduce inputs into production, creating more economic value and bring greater efficiency to consumers, while using fewer resources and labour. To accomplish this goal, the MARD is working on proposals to restructure the agricultural sector towards added value and sustainable development.

The first objective is to increase investment in order to increase the added value of Vietnamese agricultural products through the value chain, applying high technology to processing and strengthening quality management and food safety, together with branding for agricultural products.

Calling for foreign investment is adopting high technology and sustainable development, with a new approach from public–private partnership (PPP) model, Long said.

Emphasising the Netherlands’ experience and advanced agricultural technology, Michiel van Erkel said that favourable investment cooperation between the two countries would help to add value to Vietnam’s agricultural exports while contributing to the supply of food with a safer and more sustainable value.

Giving his assessment of Vietnam’s agricultural sector, Nathan Belete, Practice Manager for the World Bank’s Agriculture Global Practice for the East Asia and the Pacific Region, said that Vietnam had seen strong and stable, albeit decelerating, agricultural growth.

Behind the success story of agriculture in Vietnam, there are still concerns about product quality and sustainable development, as in exports of agricultural commodities, Vietnam is a low-cost provider whose products are of uneven quality. Moreover, the lack of Vietnamese overseas agricultural brands reduces the competitiveness of Vietnam’s agricultural sector.

However, according to the World Bank expert, Vietnam has great opportunities for agricultural demand-led growth at home and abroad—that is, high-value foods such as nuts, spices, prepared foods and environmentally friendly commodities with their geographical origin indicated.

Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, Director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that market information was still missing in the main stage of the agricultural value chain in Vietnam. To reach foreign market, Vietnam’s agriculture needs more promotion channels and marketing strategies, as well as strong brands.

At the seminar, the Netherlands also shared its experiences with value-added chains for agricultural products and foodstuffs and explored business opportunities and the potential for cooperation in the Vietnamese agricultural sector.

The Netherlands and Vietnam have had Strategic Partnerships in water management and climate change adaptation since 2010 and in sustainable agriculture and food security since 2014.

Source: Agroberichten Buitenland

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