Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai delivered his speech at the Vietnam Food Forum.(Source: VNA)

HCM City (VNS/VNA) - The use of technology is considered one of the most important factors to improve the yields and quality of agricultural products and enable them to join the global value chain, delegates heard at a forum in Ho Chi Minh City on November 14.

Speaking at the Vietnam Food Forum, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said: “This year, the forum aims to share the global development trends with respect to agricultural products and foods in the technology era and the experience of applying technology in agricultural production and food processing.”

Gerald H, Smith, senior agricultural attché at the US Consulate in HCM City, spoke about the importance of international standards for trade in food and agricultural products.

“WTO members are obligated to base their measures on international standards or their own risk assessment; ensure necessary measures to achieve a level of appropriate protection.

“Members should ensure there is no unjustifiable discrimination against foreign sources of supply, promote the development of international standards and participate in international standard-setting bodies.

“International standards facilitate trade, provide transparent and science-based decisions and are useful in the development of national requirements.

“International standards are supported by the WTO. They help reduce the cost of bringing a national food safety system in compliance with WTO obligations, and they are reference points for ensuring the health and safety of plants, animals and processed foods.”

He mentioned three international standards-setting organisations, Joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission for food safety, World Organisation for Animal Health and the International Plant Protection Convention.

Dr Dao Ha Trung, president of the HCM City High Technology Association, spoke about the application of traceability technologies for agricultural products using blockchain.

He said Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, had asked suppliers to use traceability with blockchain technology to ensure food safety and security.

“A tracing system based on blockchain technology provides consumers with information from production to consumption, all of which is done in real time.”

The tracing system works this way: A farmer picks fruits and sells them to a trader, who logs into a platform and uploads information about the batch of fruits. A transaction and a QR code are generated, which accompanies the batch of fruits until they are on supermarket shelves.

Other stakeholders who perform cleaning, packaging and exporting also log into the platform and upload their information about the previous transaction. 

“The system will serve the Vietnamese and global supply chain, consumers and Vietnamese [authorities] and increase the value and quality of Vietnamese products.”

The forum included a business-matching event involving Vietnamese enterprises and 30 importers, supermarkets, malls and retailers including M Mega Market, Vinmart, Saigon Co.op, HAPRO, SATRA, Walmart (the US), CJ and LOTTE (the Republic of Korea), AEON (Japan) and Central Group (Thailand).

It was organised as part of the ongoing Vietnam International Food Industry Exhibition (Vietnam Foodexpo), an international trade show for the food and the food industry, which runs until November 17. – VNS/VNA