The National Agriculture Extension Centre will carry out reforms that will enable it to offer more practical support to farmers, its director Phan Huy Thong has said.

He said a major focus of reform efforts would be to improve the efficiency and utility of grassroots extension centres.

Speaking at a meeting held in Ho Chi Minh City on January 16, Thong said the centre would step up efforts to transfer advanced technology to farmers so that they can increase production efficiency and earn higher incomes. This would, in turn, help ensure sustainable development of the agriculture sector, he said.

Future training courses for extension workers and farmers would feature more practical sessions, Thong added.

"Our reforms will improve efficiency and attract more and more farmers to extension services," he said.

With extension centres nationwide set to receive funding lower than last year, the agency would review projects and restructure investments, targeting key areas integrated into Government programmes, he said.

The centre would also strengthen co-operation with counterparts in ASEAN-member nations and organisations in the Republic of Korea, Japan, Israel and other countries to benefit from their experience and expertise, Thong said.

Ngo Dong Hai, a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said at the meeting that the centre had made great contributions to improving agricultural productivity in Vietnam for the last 20 years.

This has helped the sector record major export successes, he added.

However, with increasing trade barriers in overseas markets, agricultural extension services should provide greater assistance to farmers so as to improve quality as well as competitiveness of the nation's agriculture produce, he said.

Thong said that the centre had implemented 42 national projects to transfer advanced technology to farmer and achieved significant success in improving production of key agricultural products.

Projects to mechanise rice and sugarcane production, for instance, had helped cut production costs by 35 per cent, he said, adding large-scale rice cultivation, rice and fish farming models and rice drying projects were among other successful projects.

In addition, the centre had, in collaboration with provinces and cities, held many agricultural extension events last year, including forums, competitions and fairs, to help farmers apply new production techniques and gain more outlets for their produce.

The centre also worked with the media to disseminate information about the Government's agricultural and rural policies as well as useful tips on cultivation, harvesting, and post-harvest processing, he said.-VNA