Dutch farming expertise meets Vietnamese ambition

08:50 | 29/10/2019 MUTRAP Corner

(VEN) - Dutch Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality Marjolijn Sonnema discussed agricultural cooperation opportunities between the Netherlands and Vietnam in an interview with Vietnam Economic News’ Nguyen Huong.

dutch farming expertise meets vietnamese ambition

The Netherlands and Vietnam have cooperated to promote agricultural development with many specific support programs for agricultural products. What fields will the two sides develop next?

As a pioneer in circular agriculture, we look forward to working with Vietnam to seek innovative solutions and share knowledge to build a sustainable future for agriculture.

In recent times, the Netherlands has provided support for Vietnam to develop its agricultural products, such as shrimp, potatoes and milk products. The two sides have had close cooperation in many fields, including food safety. The Netherlands has helped Vietnam build laboratories and reference bases to strengthen food safety for Vietnamese and international consumers, as well as supported Vietnam in land accumulation and cooperative development.

The two sides will work together in building a roadmap to apply and develop post-harvesting technologies. In addition, the transformation of the agricultural sector in the Mekong Delta region will remain a major cooperation orientation, with a focus on shrimp farming, dragon fruit production, and crops grown in saline soil.

dutch farming expertise meets vietnamese ambition

Will the upcoming EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) provide additional opportunities for Vietnamese farm produce to access the Dutch market?

Vietnam has great ambition and potential to become a regional and global player in agriculture. Vietnam has also exported a large volume of its farm produce to the EU in general and the Netherlands in particular, where it has been well received by local consumers.

The EVFTA is important for both parties. I hope that the trade pact can be signed as soon as possible, so that both parties can make the most of the benefits it is expected to provide.

How can Vietnam raise capital for clean agricultural development?

I would like to emphasize the role of the private sector in agricultural development. This is also the way for European countries develop agriculture.

In the Netherlands, the government participates in the agricultural development agenda. Instead of investing much in production, the government provides the agricultural knowledge system, while creating legal mechanisms to attract investment from businesses. My point is that investment in agriculture must come from the private sector.

Despite limited farming land, the Netherlands is an agricultural giant. What can Vietnam learn from the Netherlands?

Due to our small land fund, we have applied high intensive farming methods and improved productivity per unit of area.

We have built greenhouses with the most advanced technologies in the world, focused on changing the structure of crops and livestock in accordance with natural conditions, and developed key agricultural products such as flowers, vegetables, ornamental plants, meat, dairy products and eggs. It is also important to focus on education and training to improve the level of the agricultural workforce.

We have the golden triangle of business, knowledge institutes, and the government in the successful agro-food complex. A critical factor of its success is the agricultural knowledge system and collaboration between business, knowledge institutes and the government.

Dutch private enterprises and experienced research organizations are always ready to support and cooperate with Vietnam. The two sides have had many cooperation programs in developing a sustainable value chain for dairy products, potatoes and shrimp. We have shared knowledge and conducted technology transfer in these fields, and have made certain progress over the years.

To address Vietnam’s challenges in agricultural land use optimization, we emphasize the importance of technology transfer and agricultural knowledge sharing in cooperation between the two sides. Dutch experts have advised Vietnam on the Mekong Delta Plan for the sustainable development of the region.