By applying more advanced technology, Vietnamese maize farmers could boost yields by 50 percent by 2020 and reduce money spent on imports, Syngenta representative Peter Pickering said at a recent meeting with Vietnamese agricultural leaders.

The Swiss company, a global leader in the field of crop protection and agricultural biotechnology, launched a programme last year to transfer maize cultivation technology to farmers in Vietnam 's key corn growing areas. These include the northern mountainous area, the Central Highlands and the Red River Delta. The company also supplied seeds of a new hybrid variety to these areas.

Pickering said initial results were encouraging, adding that he hopes the maize varieties, which are resistant to herbicide and corn borers, will be approved by the Government for commercial production.

In addition to good seeds, technical advances are necessary to increase yields, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said.

For this autumn-winter crop, the company worked with Van Nam Agricultural Co-operative to provide farms with hybrid maize seeds as well as pest management solutions to improve yield.

The Asia-Pacific region has the largest corn growing area, but productivity is often low. In Vietnam , maize fields have an average yield of 4.3 tonnes per ha. The country has to import 9 million tonnes of maize for feed production annually.

According to predictions, more than 1 billion USD will be spent to import about 4.5 million tonnes of corn from now until the end of this year. Last year, the country spent more than 4 billion USD on agricultural material imports.-VNA