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September 21, 2021, 12:41 am

MARD prefers to use imported seeds for farm produce

(14:11:52 PM 30/08/2014)
( - Though Vietnam has spent big money on its national seed production program, it still uses mostly imported seeds for farm produce.

Prof. Vo Tong Xuan
Professor Vo Tong Xuan, a renowned agriculture expert in Vietnam, said he is not surprised about the figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) that Vietnam spent $500 million to import more than 8,000 seeds of different kinds in 2013.
The imports serve vegetable production on a total area of 700,000 hectares across the country.
Xuan said that Vietnam likes using imported seeds so much that it imports seeds which can be made domestically, including radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers and cabbage seeds.
Although Vietnam is running a big national seed production and variety development program with unlimited capital which is expected to last 20 years, it does not utilize the achievements gained from the program.
A report showed that VND20 trillion had been poured into the program by 2010, including capital from state and local budgets.
Vietnam has also been operating a project on developing hybrid rice varieties since 2003, with estimated investment capital of hundreds of billions of dong.
Being the biggest rice exporter in the world, Vietnam has to import 70 percent of hybrid rice varieties from China.
In fact, according to Xuan, it is unreasonable to say that Vietnamese agronomists cannot create new varieties. The problem lies in the policy. As they do not receive strong support from MARD, they do not have good enough conditions to conduct scientific research to create new varieties.
In addition, the scientists, who need money to create varieties, cannot call for capital from businesses, because businesses find it more profitable to import seeds for domestic sale than to spend money on research.
Xuan harshly criticized MARD for the current policy, which encourages Vietnamese to import seeds for domestic agricultural production instead of production of domestic seeds.
The ideal solution is for Vietnamese agronomists to create new varieties and domestic enterprises to produce seeds to supply to vegetable growing areas.
However, Xuan said, as MARD follows the “living from hand to mouth” principle, this cannot be implemented.
As Vietnam does not spend money on research, it has been relying on imports. Vietnam either cannot make seeds domestically, or can only make products which are less competitive than imports.
“Farmers would be foolish to feed fowls and pigs with Vietnamese-made feed, because they have to eat five to six kilos of feed to gain one kilo. They would rather use Thai products which allow them to gain two kilos in weight with just two kilos of feed,” he said.
Xuan said that creating new varieties is completely within the reach of Vietnamese scientists. Some enterprises in the southern provinces of An Giang, Dong Nai, Can Tho and Bac Lieu reportedly spent money to order scientists to create new varieties.
Hong Dan, a district in Bac Lieu province, reportedly is willing to spend billions of dong to ask agronomists at Can Tho University to create a salt-tolerant rice variety.
Dan Viet

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