Vietnam and Cuba expressed their wish to expand agricultural cooperation via a number of cooperation programmes, including a rice production programme and a master plan for aquaculture in Cuba until 2020.

During their talks in Hanoi on September 8, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat and Minister of Food Industry Maria Del Carmen Concepcion Gonzalez agreed to move the signing of a cooperation agreement on veterinary medicine and animal quarantine forward.

In accordance with the agreements reached during the 30th and 31st meeting of the Vietnam-Cuba Inter-Governmental Committee, Vietnam provided 42 billion VND (2 million USD) for the second project phase to develop crop varieties in Cuba during the 2014-2017 period and 12 billion VND (571,429 USD) for a project supporting Cuba’s aquaculture during the 2014-2016 period.

Both projects were launched in March this year.

In addition, the two sides also worked together to draft an agreement on coffee cooperation.

Minister Phat expressed his joy at the progress of the projects, asking the Cuban side to complete necessary procedures to sign a bilateral cooperation deal in veterinary medicine and animal quarantine at an earlier date.

Concepcion highly appreciated Vietnam’s support for Cuba’s rice production programme and expressed her hope to broaden cooperation efforts to the processing.

Speaking highly of Vietnam’s experience in aquaculture, she said Cuba hopes Vietnam would help her country make a detailed action plan for a select province once a master plan has been developed.

According to her, a new policy on aquaculture development was recently approved, so that Cuba is in need of farming technologies and a modern processing system to improve the effectiveness and value of its aquaculture sector.

A joint rice production project in Cuba for the 2009-2015 period helped raise Cuba’s average rice output to 4.57 tonnes per hectare compared to 3.45 tonnes in the past, she noted.

The project’s production model has been expanded to 27,758ha with a total yield of 126,852 tonnes, she said, adding that this year the project is expected to be implemented in 15 locations in 14 provinces in Cuba with a total area of close to 30,000ha.-VNA