|By Nguyen Do Anh Tuan - General director Department of International Co-operation, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development |
Thus far, the Vietnamese agricultural sector has been making the first steps towards large-scale production of goods, with the application of modern technology and connectivity of domestic and overseas value chains. Over the next 15-20 years, the sector would need to shift from quantitative growth to qualitative growth, with the key task being to boost agricultural commercialisation, and develop the sector from producing raw materials to trading in agricultural products.
Along with the process of modernisation and urbanisation, shifting labour from the agricultural sector and rural areas to the industrial-urban service sector, it is necessary to beef up the process of making farmers more professional, increase production scales, and develop sustainable agricultural value chains.
The Vietnamese sector needs to promote its advantages and make the best of all opportunities from Industry 4.0 and the country’s international integration in order to move forward to a new level.
These products can be used as making raw materials, intermediary products, consumer goods, and processed products that have high added value. They can help Vietnam develop big brand names in major markets throughout the world as well as in this region.
The nature of Industry 4.0 is based on digital technology and integration of all smart technologies in order to optimise all production processes and methods.
New tech management
With new characteristics and trends, Industry 4.0 can create strong impacts to the Vietnamese agricultural sector. Applications of digital technologies such as AI and sensor chips can help automate all production processes, from seedling cultivation to harvesting.
Big data can help improve the quality of forecast over impacts of climate change, and analyse and forecast the demand of the market so that producers can make sound decisions. Meanwhile, the Internet of Things (IoT) can help develop e-commerce, connect consumers and producers, increase the effectiveness of trace of origin, and control food safety.
Remote-sensor technology in combination with IoT and big data can help support manage information for planning, warn of natural calamities and epidemics, and supervise the quality of natural resources and the environment. New achievements in biotechnology, molecular biology, and genetics, along with digital technology can help decode genomes. They can also adjust genetic codes in order to eradicate diseases, create new plant varieties that can resist pests, and adapt to climate change.
This is especially important in growing tissue for quick multiplication and select plant varieties and animals that have high quality and productivity.
Nano-technology with additives will help control the use of fertilisers and pesticide effectively. It can also help treat seeds in order to improve the speed and quality of growth, and productivity of harvesting products. In addition, it can also help better the quality of preserving agricultural products.
The robot technology programmed with big data and AI will replace human physical strength with high productivity. In addition, 3D printing technology can be used for products such as greenhouse equipment, net houses, packing, preservation equipment, and transport of products.
The development of renewable energy such as solar power and biological energy from the usage of waste and by-products can create big values and new jobs, reduce costs from using natural resources, and prevent environmental pollution.
However, Industry 4.0 has also poses numerous challenges for the Vietnamese agricultural sector, such as the current low education level of the rural workforce. Enterprises’ capacity in applying and absorbing technology remains limited, while the domestic scientific and technological market, though having taken shape, is of a small scale.
Furthermore, agricultural information infrastructure remains disconnected, and the state’s investment into scientific and technological research in agriculture is still limited, with low effectiveness. Investment, meanwhile, in agricultural development of economic sectors is still weak.
Besides that, enterprises are finding it very difficult to access capital for their research and application of high technology in agricultural production.
Getting to work
In order to make best use of Industry 4.0, the Vietnamese agricultural sector needs to increase its innovation capacity based on the concerted actions of the state, enterprises, and farmers.
The state needs to play a role as a supporter and creator of a more favourable climate for all economic sectors to play in. In addition, farmers must be considered a pivot in agricultural modernisation, with enterprises taking the lead in extending support for farmers.
All aggregate strength and resources must be enhanced, with all stakeholders promoting their own strength and innovation.
It is very necessary to regard science and technology as a key to agricultural growth in order to reduce input costs such as capital, land, energy, and labour, but still to be able to reap higher growth.
It is also quite important to develop and implement mechanisms and policies on supporting and improving scientific and technological capacity in agriculture, such as human resources, increase in public investment, and attraction of private investment into sci-tech and digital economic infrastructure in agriculture.
In addition, it is also important to develop a scientific and technological market in Vietnam, and develop assorted funds in order to create capital for startups and innovation in agriculture.
Furthermore, it is necessary to create some large enterprises that can play a role as a leader in agricultural production, and then attract smaller ones into developing value chains. Finally, efforts must be made to boost investment under the public-private partnership format in order to develop the country’s agricultural innovation centres in a number of key agricultural regions across the country.