Vietnamese information technology (IT) firms are aiming for higher profits by focusing on a new sector, agricultural production, the VietNamNet Bridge reported on June 13.

Viettel appears to be the pioneer in providing IT solutions for agriculture production. Such investment has brought 7 billion VND a month in revenue to the military firm.

According to Bui Quang Huy, a Viettel senior executive, Viettel has been running , an information portal for farmers for the last few years, which can bring 4 billion VND a month.

It has also been providing information packages about farm produce prices, warnings about epidemics and unfavourable weather, and giving analyses of coffee, and cashew nut markets.

“We can earn 7 billion VND a month from services in the agricultural sector, which is much higher than revenue that game app suppliers can bring to us,” Huy said.

A representative from Viettel said one of the biggest difficulties for Viettel when developing IT apps for agriculture development is a lack of staff with deep knowledge about agricultural production.

Viettel recently helped an individual in Dak Lak utilize IT apps in his production and business. The individual was in charge of the professional knowledge, while Viettel was in charge of providing capital and technology to implement the idea.

Viettel, with 56 million mobile subscribers, including 10 million in the agriculture sector, has advantages over other rivals in accessing clients in rural areas. It can offer telecom fee reductions to clients who use IT solutions for the community’s benefits.

IT firm Hanel has not introduced any IT solutions or apps for the agriculture sector, but it has revealed its intention to jump on the bandwagon.

Hanel’s CEO Nguyen Quoc Binh, at a recent meeting with the National Assembly’s Deputy Chair Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, when talking about models and solutions for the country’s modernisation, mentioned the “smart agriculture” model that is being applied in many countries.

He said the development of smart agriculture needs active support from information technology.

Vietnam, for example, needs IT solutions that help manage the food production process, from breeding and slaughtering to sale at supermarkets.

Vietnam also needs online trading floors that allow producers to make transactions directly with clients, thus allowing them to cut expenses on third parties.

It also needs IT solutions that help automate the animal husbandry industry, irrigation management, pesticide spraying and lighting.

“Vietnam is known as an agricultural economy, but nearly all the activities have been done manually,” Binh noted. “Smart agriculture remains a deserted land, where there are few IT solution providers.”

Hanel has proposed that the Government think about a reasonable mechanism to encourage investments in smart agriculture through IT parks and science & technology funds.

He suggested that the Government order IT firms to conduct research to create a common technological foundation for smart agriculture development.-VNA