The development of high-quality crop seeds and seedlings as part of Ho Chi Minh City's agricultural restructuring programme has significantly increased productivity and production value in recent years, city officials have said.

In recent years, different crop and animal varieties were provided to farmers in HCM City's outlying areas as well as to farmers in other cities and provinces, according to Duong Hoa Xo, deputy director of the city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

However, he said the agricultural seed sector has not kept pace with those in other regional countries. Limitations exist in management as well as in technology and equipment.

In addition, the domestic seed industry is faced with competition from imported seeds.

As many as 47 enterprises are active in producing and trading crop seeds and seedlings in the city. Most of them are private companies.

Last year, they produced 15,400 tonnes of seeds, up 6.5 percent compared to 2013, serving about one million hectares of cultivation, with rice varieties accounting for 56.1 percent, maize 33.6 percent, and vegetables 5 percent. Besides supplying the domestic market, about 451.4 tonnes of crop seeds were exported last year. Thanks to new strains as well as suitable production technology, vegetable productivity has increased significantly in recent years, from 19.07 tonnes/ha/crop on average in 2006 to 23.8 tonnes/ha/crop last year.

Average production value on each hectare of land rose to 325 million VND (14,921 USD) /ha/year last year, two times higher than the figure in 2010.

Orchids are one of the key plants under the city's agricultural restructuring programme, which plans to shift from traditional to urban agriculture, Xo said.

In recent years, the HCM City Bio-technology Centre and the Centre for Animal Genetics and Seeds Evaluation and Management have preserved genetic sources of more than 334 orchid varieties, including wild orchids, Mokara, Cattleya, Vanda, and Oncidiumm.

The city has also identified ornamental fish as a spearhead industry under its restructuring plan for the agricultural sector until 2020.

Ornamental fish have a higher value produced on the same area compared to other plants and are suitable to urban agriculture.

The city produced 90 million fish last year, with 11.2 million heads exported.

Under the city's ornamental fish development plan until 2020, the city will strive to produce around 200 million heads a year and earn about 30-50 million USD from exports.

The city has advantages in cultivation conditions, but management and trading experience remain limited.-VNA