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Nov 10, 2023 / 15:31

Digital solutions key to sustainable agriculture

Digital transformation in the agricultural sector will be one of the key factors in helping farmers, farms, cooperatives and businesses improve productivity and product quality.

Digital solutions coupled with innovative solutions and investment capital from the private sector, will spark a new revolution in Vietnamese agricultural sector, said Thomas Jacobs, International Finance Corporation (IFC) Country Manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos at the International Forum on "Digital Disruption in Agriculture: The way forward in Vietnam" in Hanoi on November 9.

Jacobs said the success of Vietnam’s agricultural sector will depend on its ability to compete with high-quality, traceable, and sustainable products through an efficient supply chain. 

Thomas Jacobs, IFC Country Manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, addresses the forum. Photo: Anh Kiet/The Hanoi Times

However, as small-scale farmers make up the majority in Vietnam, it has created complex challenges in implementing new technologies and production methods, to address negative impacts on the environment and improve agricultural products’ quality, according to the country manager.

To achieve the goals, the Vietnamese Government, farmers, agribusinesses and stakeholders in the agricultural sector need to join hands, Jacobs emphasized, saying that IFC has been collaborating with Vietnam’s enterprises to help farmers produce essential foods such as rice and important export agricultural products, including coffee and pepper, apply digital tools and methods of smart farming to increase quantity and reduce costs.

Specifically, IFC is investing in advanced technologies for agricultural value chain, including preservation technology to help extend the shelf life of agricultural products, electronic smart technologies to help farmers optimize fish feeding, and the platform that connects farmers directly to consumers through online retail.

Precise agricultural technology helps create better products

According to Carolyn Turk, Country Director of the World Bank (WB) in Vietnam, agriculture plays an important role in Vietnam's national economy, contributing 12% of GDP and nearly 30% of local employment. Although the country'skj agriculture has made great strides in recent decades, there are still many challenges that need to be addressed to further the sector's development potential. 

WB Vietnam Country Director Carolyn Turk speaks at international conference.

"Therefore, agricultural technology needs to be accurate to produce better and higher quality products. Digital tools such as drones, satellite imagery and GPS systems can help collect data on soil conditions, crop health and pest infestations, allowing farmers to make data-driven decisions and optimize resource allocation," Carolyn said.

She added that digital technologies such as sensors, electronic platforms and blockchain can facilitate the traceability of the supply chain of agricultural products. This ensures transparency and builds consumer trust by providing information on product origin, production methods and product quality. Improving food safety not only benefits consumers, but also opens up greater access to international markets.

E-commerce platforms help connect farmers directly with consumers and sell products online without intermediaries. Not only does this reduce the cost of transactions, but it also helps farmers generate higher profits. Farmers can reduce their reliance on cash transactions and improve financial access in rural areas through digital payment systems and mobile banking services.

Digital transformation in agriculture to catch up with green growth

Speaking at the forum, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Hoang Hiep said that digital transformation is an inevitable trend globally, which opens up unprecedented opportunities for Vietnam to make breakthroughs in national rankings.

"In the era of industrial revolution 4.0, digital transformation is not only a trend, but also an inevitable long-term factor, and agriculture cannot be left out, Hiep said, adding, "Digital transformation can help farmers gain faster access to the market, as well as offer modern agricultural methods to improve management of production processes and create transparency at every stage of production.

Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Hoang Hiep delivers a speech at the event.

According to the vice minister, digital transformation is a thorough and seamless process. "We need to think and act in a different way to be successful. Software, computers, and the cloud are just tools, and farmers need to be encouraged to participate in digital transformation," Hiep noted.

He reiterated that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is mapping an agricultural data architecture and will launch it this month. This is the hinge to undertake digital transformation, trace origins, and help localities work more in sync.
"Thanks to digital transformation, farmers can build brands to move towards transparency, as they can integrate information and images into their products," Alan Johnson, an IFC coordinator, told The Hanoi Times. 

"To improve the efficiency of agricultural production, promote the development of commodity markets and international integration, today's farmers need to have knowledge and understanding of science and technology in addition to their agricultural skills. It's important to improve farmers' education levels and farming skills, as well as their knowledge of production and business management," he stressed

He added that as a pillar of the national economy, digital transformation in the agricultural sector will be one of the key factors to help farmers, farms, cooperatives, and businesses improve productivity and quality, optimize production activities, and especially catch up with green growth.