ACIAR aids Vietnam to modernise smallholder farming

January 29, 2024 | 11:13
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The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) has played a key role in helping Vietnam modernise its smallholder farming systems, creating at the same time a strong bilateral relationship benefiting both Vietnam and Australia.
ACIAR helps Vietnam modernise its smallholder farming systems
ACIAR helps Vietnam modernise its smallholder farming systems

For the past 30 years, Vietnam’s agriculture sector has been steadily modernising, progressing from an initial focus on food security to a robust, increasingly diverse agricultural economy. The country today is confident of achieving its goal of being one of the world’s leading food producers by 2030.

The story of development from largely subsistence farming to a food-exporting nation is a classic case study of what targeted agricultural research and extension can achieve. It also reaffirms the value and importance of the ACIAR ‘sleeves up’ approach to this objective.

Australia also celebrates 50 years of diplomatic relationship with Vietnam, developing a comprehensive cooperation that has included partnerships with the centre over three decades.

ACIAR’s research helps to create new and profitable industries, contribute to sustainable and resilient livelihood, and ensure food safety and biosecurity.

In addition, the centre also implements research for innovation to help local farmers. One of the centre's key beneficiaries is smallholder farmer households, as its science-backed innovations are naturally designed around simple, inexpensive interventions so that they can easily adopt and change farming behaviours.

Farming techniques introduced by Vietnamese researchers have also helped farmers reduce farming time and labour, enabling them to enjoy various benefits. Their families also benefited from nutritional improvements from crop changes, particularly indigenous vegetables.

In particular, the centre pays attention to women's empowerment. One project empowered smallholder women vegetable farmers in Lao Cai province to better engage with high-value markets through participating in farmer business schools.

The current ACIAR–Vietnam strategy has also pivoted towards supporting Vietnamese partners in helping the smallholder agriculture sector to commercialise, focusing on connecting agricultural scientists and farmers with the private sector.

ACIAR aids Vietnam to modernise smallholder farming

Ambassador Andrew Goledzinowski (second from right) met farmers and researchers participating in ACIAR-funded projects at ACIAR Vietnam stakeholder meeting in Hanoi

Nguyen Van Bo, a member of Australia’s Commission for International Agricultural Research and former President of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said Vietnam’s relationship with ACIAR had helped to accelerate the country’s economic development.

“Developing countries like Vietnam are in dire need of technology. Through cooperation with Australian scientists, we have gained access to the world’s advanced science and technology,” said Bo.

A key feature of the relationship between the centre and Vietnam has been investment and support for capacity building in ways that build technical expertise in Vietnam and have value for Australia.

“While building diplomatic relationships through science, the knowledge and experience gained by both Australian and Vietnamese researchers will help Australia prepare well for pests and diseases it has not yet encountered,” said Bo.

In 2023, the centre coordinated with partners to organise several outstanding activities.

The first one was the press to meet partners and visit the ACIAR project. The centre organised two trips in May and August 2023 with the participation of 23 journalists from national and local press agencies. More than 75 news articles and reports on investment and long-term cooperation between the centre and Vietnam have been produced and broadcast.

This helped affirm the reputation and good development of research partnerships supported by the centre, to effectively translate research results into practical agricultural production and business.

The second was the graduation ceremony of John Dillon students. The 2021 John Dillon scholarship programme dedicated to 19 Vietnamese researchers and scientific managers ended with a graduation ceremony taking place at ACIAR headquarters in Canberra in September 2023.

Another outstanding activity of the centre was the visit of the delegation of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to ACIAR headquarters. ACIAR was honoured to welcome Minister of Science and Technology Huynh Thanh Dat on his and the delegation's business trip to Australia in September 2023.

The delegation of the MoST and the centre discussed strengthening cooperation in agricultural research; promoting innovation and creativity in agriculture; and improving the capacity of Vietnamese researchers.

Another activity was the Australian delegation’s participation in the International Festival of Vietnam's rice industry. Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Andrew Goledzinowski led the Australian delegation to participate in the first international festival for Vietnam's rice industry in Hau Giang province in December 2023. In high-level meetings with Vietnamese leaders, the ambassador stated that Australia was a trusted partner of Vietnam and pledged to support Vietnam in climate change and food security.

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By Nhat Ha

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