The livestock sector plans to increase its acreage of pastures from 290,000 ha to 509,000 ha by 2020 in an effort to provide an extra 150 million tonnes of grass for animal breeding each year.

According to Hoang Kim Giao, Head of Livestock Production Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the sector will draw up a national plan for producing fodder across the country.

The sector is currently creating policies to encourage localities to grow grass on 2-5 percent of agricultural land, provide 100 percent of the initial different varieties for provinces and give farmers access to loans with preferential interests, he added.

The animal husbandry sector plays a key role in the rural economy although its turnover makes up only 26- 27 percent of agriculture value each year, said Do Kim Tuyen, Head of the Department of Livestock Breeding’s Cattle Office.

Apart from providing natural fodder for animals and fertiliser for the agricultural industry as well as food, the sector intends to generate jobs, increase farmers’ incomes to help ensure food security, eliminate hunger and reduce poverty, said Tuyen.

The rapid development of the dairy sector over the past 10 years has helped to reduce imports of milk by 15 percent.

According to Tuyen, the output of grass and its quality still remain low due to the out of date methods of breeding and cultivation and the fact that stock mainly graze on natural pastures. He added that the areas planted with grass can only meet 10 percent of the fodder needed for animal breeding.

Moreover, the shortage of grass has led to poor animal breeding although grass, animal-feed crops and agricultural by-products come to between 60-70 million tonnes per year.

Vietnam has over 10 million grazing livestock, of which cows account for 6 million, buffalos 2.9 million and goats and sheep 1.37 million./.