"Only 1 percent of Vietnam's agricultural production facilities have applied high technologies and IT. (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) - Hi-tech agricultural zones in each region of the country would contribute to improving the competitiveness of the agricultural sector once the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) takes effect at the end of 2017, Tu Minh Thien, Deputy Head of the Management Board of HCM City's High-Tech Agricultural Park, has said.

Speaking at a conference held on December 3 in HCM City on the challenges and opportunities for the agricultural sector, Thien said: "This is a duty of the Government: to issue policies to attract investment from private enterprises to these zones."

The zones would play an important role in providing training in high technology applications in cultivation, breeding and management to small- and mid-sized farms. Such training would help farmers meet food safety standards required by TPP member countries.

In cultivation, for example, biotechnologies would be used to produce products such as marine algae or fungi that can be used in agriculture or the environment.

Only 1 percent of Vietnam's agricultural production facilities have applied high technologies and IT. The rest continue to use traditional technologies.

Nestor Scherbey, senior advisor to the Vietnam Trade Facilitation Alliance, said that hi-tech applications would help develop new agricultural products, which would play a critical role in raising value.

Thien said that ICT applications would improve market access, value and links to supply chains, as well as product safety. They also would be useful in identifying origin of agricultural products.

"Only with IT applications can you link to global supply chains," he added.

Small- and medium-size farms that will find it difficult to compete in the TPP era should work with others in a new co-operative model similar to Japanese models, he said.

As for supply chains, the Government and enterprises should cooperate to identify which phase will help maximise the agricultural value.

"Opportunities for the agricultural sector in the time of TPP should be taken advantage of to bring benefits to farmers and enterprises," Thien said.

According to Scherbey, a prospective agricultural product exporter should carry out specialised export market research of foreign markets to determine the best market potential for the exporter's goods.

The most important challenge facing an agricultural exporter is to research, understand and clearly identify foreign market's standards and procedures, he said.

The next most important challenge is to identify which measures are needed to comply with the foreign market standards related to the exporter's goods, Scherbey said.-VNA