Vietnam and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have signed a document on the establishment of an IRRI Office in Vietnam.

The document was inked by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) Cao Duc Phat and IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler in Hanoi on November 27 as part of a conference on restructuring the rice sector in service of rural development.

As the first international agriculture study facility that has been recognised by the Vietnamese Government, the office will assist the exchange and connection between Vietnamese scientists and IRRI experts, contributing to realising the rice strategy of Vietnam.

During the conference, the MARD and IRRI also agreed on overall cooperation strategies and programmes as well as technical support for Vietnam to make the rice sector an important driver of the country’s economic growth.

According to MARD Minister Cao Duc Phat, over 80 percent of rice varieties cultivated in the Mekong Delta region are originated from IRRI researches and selection.

Vietnam has about 10 million farmer households living in rural areas, while about 70 percent of the country’s population involve in agriculture, he noted.

Restructuring the rice sector is significant to raising farmers’ incomes as well as agriculture’s value, since rice accounts for nearly a half of the value generated by farm products, he stated.

The minister called for further support from the international community, including the IRRI, in the work.

He also pointed to the need for the rice sector to do more for farmers and the growth of both the agriculture sector and the economy.

The establishment of the office constitutes the determination and commitment of Vietnam and the IRRI to working together closely in making the rice sector and agriculture better, the minister underscored.-VNA