Agricultural economists, scientists and policymakers from Vietnam and other Asian countries are gathering for an international conference from October 13-15 to deal with challenges facing the region’s agricultural sector in the future.
Asia has long been emerging as an economic force in the world, however the region still has to contend with thorny issues related to poverty reduction, food security, more equitable income distribution and natural disasters.
Delegates at the three-day event also discussed the latest development strategies and evaluated the influence of policies on agriculture and farmers. They affirmed that the agriculture sector plays a significant role in the region’s economic development, and is now being confronted with food insecurity due to overpopulation and rapid urbanization.
During the conference, leading experts from agriculture-based economies such as India, Bangladesh and Vietnam shared their experience in increasing productivity and preserving cultivated land for sustainable development.
Dr. Uttam Deb, principle scientist from India’s International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), said Vietnam should exploit its advantages of a large labour force and improved technologies to further develop its agricultural sector.
The country has the potential for developing aquaculture and cattle rearing, not only for domestic consumption but also for export. To make full use of market opportunities, agricultural productivity should be enhanced through collaboration with ASEAN and international agricultural research centres, and negotiations with the WTO, he said.
Dr. Uttam Deb
Dr. Uttam Deb highly valued Vietnam’s incentive policies towards agriculture, saying that they will help the sector provide a boost for national development in the future.
Professor Seung-Ryung Yang of Korea University’s Food and Resource Economics Department, expressed his belief that Vietnam’s agricultural sector is able to overcome negative impact caused by the global economic downturn and climate change.
He said that the country has already successfully developed from being a rice importer into one of the world’s top rice exporters. With such remarkable achievements, the country will reap higher productivity thanks to its current application of advanced technologies and methods, he added.
Prof. Seung-Ryung Yang
Prof. Yang also raised concerns over the decreasing area of cultivated land, not only in Vietnam but also in other countries, in the current context of rapid urbanization and globalization.
According to Dang Kim Son, Head of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD), high economic growth requires a better quality of farm produce and food hygiene and safety. This also widens the gap between urban and rural areas. More research should be conducted to outline orientations and strategies for agriculture and rural development in the new era to ensure food security in both the domestic and global markets.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s recent statistics show that 32 countries around the world are in need of food aid due to poor crops, conflicts, political instability or surging food prices.
The global demand for food is constantly increasing in both developed and developing countries. The price index of food over the past two years has gone up 82 percent, pushing hundreds of millions more people into poverty, making the concerns over food security a truly pressing issue.