Vietnam urged to transform food system amid challenges

Transforming the food system can help meet many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a community of experts who are joining forces to confront challenges in Vietnam.
Vietnam urged to transform food system amid challenges ảnh 1Farmers harvest rice in Vinh An commune of the central province of Thanh Hoa.  (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - Transforming the food system can help meet many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a community of experts who are joining forces to confront challenges in Vietnam.

The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) – a global partnership that unites international organisations engaged in research for a food-secured future – led an online meeting in Hanoi last week, bringing together key people from state agencies, academia, NGOs, donor agencies and industry to help address existing and emerging challenges and opportunities in Vietnam's agri-food systems and inform policies and investments ahead of the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

As world leaders, movers, and activists prepare for the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) in September 2021, countries are gathering evidence and identifying key solutions to pressing issues in their local food systems.

In June, CGIAR centres participated in and contributed to a series of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)-convened dialogues that are organised at national and sub-national levels.

The independent dialogue on July 1 was another effort by CGIAR centres in Vietnam to enhance the awareness of key stakeholders engaged in the National Food Systems Dialogue about the potential contribution of CGIAR to achieve responsible, accountable, sustainable and resilient food systems in the country.

The dialogue also seeks to facilitate conversations with partners to identify the way forward on how CGIAR and partners can work together to better address the needs and priorities identified by national partners and policymakers for achieving sustainable and resilient food systems in the country. According to experts, Vietnam's food systems are diverse and facing many challenges.

Global climate change forecasts and reality in recent years show that Vietnam is one of the countries most heavily affected by the changing climate.

Vietnam needs to take specific actions to promote cooperation, synergising with external forces to support the formation and development of a smart and resilient food systems, ensuring food safety. Food security and nutrition is not only for nearly 100 million Vietnamese people but also contribute to ensuring world food security, especially in the context of the complicated development of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CGIAR has been working extensively in various initiatives around Vietnam, ranging from agriculture, nutrition and diets, One Health and climate issues—and more recently contributing to COVID-19 initiatives.

Ten out of 15 CGIAR are operating in Vietnam. Among those, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, the International Potato Center (CIP), the World Agroforestry (ICRAF), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), WorldFish, and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) contributed substantially to this dialogue.

Dao The Anh, Vice President of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS), said that research by CGIAR contributed to improving the sustainability of food systems of Vietnam by using a multidisciplinary and integrated approach.

Jean Balié, CGIAR regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, emphasised the significance of transforming agri-food systems in the region toward improved environmental, economic and social sustainability as well as climate-resilience.

“The unified and comprehensive efforts of CGIAR in Vietnam aims to support the country to achieve this profound and urgent transformation of food systems within planetary boundaries while keeping sight of national socio-economic development targets,” said Balié.

Stephan Weise, managing director for Asia of the Alliance said that now was the time to work across sectors and themes in an integrated manner at the local through to the national level.

Also last week, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan attended the Country Leadership Roundtable on delivering action for food systems in support of the UN Food Systems Summit 2021. 

Giving his remarks at the online event, Hoan affirmed that Vietnam welcomed and actively responded to the call of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Food Systems Summit in 2021.

Vietnam looked forward to contributing to the construction of the global food safety system as a “responsible, transparent, and sustainable” food provider country, he said.

Hoan introduced three key initiatives that Vietnam wants to cooperate with international partners to improve the transformation of food systems in Asia and the world. 

Firstly, Vietnam wants to promote connectivity among innovation networks in the country and across the world. Vietnam hopes to become a food innovation hub in the Asian region. 

Secondly, Vietnam would strengthen digital technical applications to develop smart agriculture value chains which are sustainable and highly adaptive to emerging problems. The country planned to make digital transformation a key mission in the agriculture industry, engaging businesses and farmers to apply digital technology in the production and agricultural service delivery.

Thirdly, Vietnam targeted to develop ecological agriculture production, ensuring the linkage between producers and consumers as a vital requirement for food security.

 “Vietnam is committed to continuing its orientation towards large-scale, low-emission agriculture and sustainable growth. We affirm our participation in the program “100 million farmers: transition to a net-zero and environmentally friendly food system” initiated by WEF,” the minister said. 

According to FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, the food security issues in Asia as well as in the world have been hugely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was necessary to include the poor in rural areas in development programmes as well as build up a more inclusive and complete food system to provide sufficient food for people. 

Transformation in agriculture and food production helps to better connect stakeholders, creating a mechanism to track and understand countries' progress in achieving the development goals of the United Nations.

“It takes over eight more years to rush the goals and there is a lot of work to be done, in which the issue goes far beyond the agricultural investment and production to international trade promotion, opening to approach new markets or upgrade of infrastructure and technologies to promote the connection between producers and consumers,” said Qu Dongyu./.


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