Prioritising animal welfare within sustainable agriculture

May 31, 2022 | 10:37
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As food systems were broken down and many were faced with a vision of food scarcity during the pandemic, the nation now has a new chance to refocus its priorities and create a more sustainable, humane, and effective agricultural sector.

Figures from Oxford Economics show that in 2019, half of Vietnam's workforce of nearly 27.5 million people worked in the agri-food sector. This industry contributes more than a quarter of the country's GDP, estimated at around $86 billion, and is a significant source of tax revenue. Therefore, the agri-food sector has been identified as a key engine driving economic recovery.

It is encouraging to see how much effort is being put into this recovery. Vietnam is accelerating its existing plans toward agriculture 4.0 to build a greener and more sustainable agricultural sector.

In the past, economic growth and sustainable development were seen as two incompatible goals. However, global trends show that consumers, governments, and regulators increasingly agree that economic returns cannot and should not be traded off against the environment and quality of life.

Animal welfare – a priority for sustainable farming

As a central pillar of the agricultural sector, many of Vietnam's livestock producers also need to be associated with sustainable development to meet consumer demands and economic growth targets while also contributing to environmental protection.

Today, animal welfare is receiving stronger traction than ever before. Consumers demand transparent information about food origins, as well as corporate responsibility for animal well-being, hygiene, and the provision of sufficient space for animals to move and exhibit their natural behaviour.

Improving animal welfare can increase business profit, thereby contributing to the goal of increasing the export revenue of the entire agricultural sector and GDP growth targets.

A study shows that by improving treatment practices and modifying living conditions, they can increase milk yield from 3.5 per cent to 13 per cent. This can add up to over 880 litres of milk per cow per year without significantly increasing costs for the farmers.

Prioritising animal welfare within sustainable agriculture
Overcoming environmental impacts is a must for breeding development to ensure sustainability in the livestock sector

Solutions to improve animal welfare in Vietnam

As one of the world’s top agricultural producers, Vietnam can benefit greatly from adopting solutions to improve animal welfare.

Tools to improve well-being include enrichment toys that allow animals to replicate their natural behaviour in a farm environment. Additional stimulation helps to relieve stress and reduces aggression in animals so that they are more resilient, less susceptible to disease, and require less veterinary intervention.

In addition, breeding systems, water supply, drainage pipes, and waste removal can apply science and technology to ensure that the animals have a healthy living environment.

Prioritising animal welfare within sustainable agriculture
Luna 86 EASYFIX is specifically designed to enrich the habitat of sow pigs. The product is made from high-quality natural rubber and is flexible, durable, and safe for pigs to bite

These solutions are designed and operated more effectively in partnership between governments, local producers, and international agricultural companies with experience in animal welfare.

Kevin Ryan, director of ASEAN for Enterprise Ireland – a governmental organisation dedicated to supporting businesses – said, "The Irish government is committed to making a positive contribution to Vietnam's sustainable agriculture by introducing innovative Irish solutions and technologies."

"Ireland is known for the quality of its agricultural products and systems and is considered a global hub for innovation and sustainable agricultural solutions. Enterprise Ireland is working closely with leading agricultural companies, such as EASYFIX, to foster long-term relationships with local farms in Vietnam, thereby promoting awareness of animal welfare and enabling local agriculture to develop in a sustainable way," added Ryan.

EASYFIX is one of the world's leading providers of livestock comfort solutions. In Southeast Asia, the business has worked with leading dairy supplier PT Ultra in Indonesia and Malaysian agri-foods company Desa to bring agricultural advances in animal comfort to the region.

Based on positive sustainability and profitability results, EASYFIX expects to expand and transfer its scalable solutions to businesses and farm owners across Southeast Asia, including Vietnam.

The company has developed partnerships with several international studies and top universities to provide customers with the best solutions on the market. By continually researching and developing, several unique and effective solutions by EASYFIX have received honours including the LAMMA Innovation Awards and the DLG Certificate.

To remain competitive and improve their position in the export market, livestock companies in Vietnam need to obtain animal welfare certifications.

By prioritising animal welfare and collaborating with leading international organisations such as EASYFIX, the country’s agricultural sector can reach its economic goals, achieve value for farmers, and contribute to maintaining the sustainability of the environment.

By Mai Dang

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