Agricultural businesses are facing increasing international competition and must use science, technology and innovation to improve their productivity and competitiveness, experts said at a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on September 27.
David Monck, innovation facilitator at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said that unlocking results from publicly funded research for innovation that delivers economic, social and environmental benefits was a challenge facing agricultural innovation systems around the world.
Speaking at the “Unlocking Innovations in Agriculture for the Private Sector” workshop, Monck said that publicly funded agriculture and food research outputs required “Science Commercialisation Partnership” approaches to fit the diverse nature of the agri-food industry.
These approaches ranged from traditional technology transfer models applied to agribusiness to more collaborative partnerships with a variety of agri-food industry and broader system actors. These approaches were being implemented globally with varying degrees of success in different contexts.
He said that it was important to determine what works for the agriculture and food sector in Vietnam and how to leverage it to enhance innovation capacity. “It is key to build an agricultural ecosystem applying a digital base to support the competitiveness of Vietnamese agriculture.”
"The agriculture and food sector plays a critical role in achieving food and nutrition security, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability," he noted.
Shaun Fitzgerald, consul for economics and politics at the Australian Consulate in HCM City, said the workshop aimed to identify innovation challenges affecting the competitiveness of the agricultural industry.
Pham Duc Nghiem, Deputy Director for the National Agency for Technology, Entrepreneurship and Commercialisation Development (NATEC) under the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology, said that opportunities for research to address these challenges would also be discussed.
Such opportunities would be explored in collaboration with appropriate research expertise to develop a solution for industry association members, he added.
Australia has a successful history of supporting public-private partnership models to enhance research activity in agriculture and increase business competitiveness. More than 3.3 billion AUS has been invested in agricultural innovation by public and private sectors.
Vietnam and Australia have been partners in innovation for more than 25 years, with research programmes spanning agriculture, water management, disaster resilience and space science.
One of these, Aus4Innovation, helps Vietnam develop a national innovation system and pilot new models in areas where Australia has experience and advantages.
The programme will support Vietnam’s most important industries, including agriculture and production, as they modernise and embrace opportunities of the Industry 4.0 era that will ensure future productivity and prosperity for the country.
As part of the Aus4Innovation programme, the Science Commercialisation Partnership will support a number of innovation partnerships in agriculture and food. Aus4Innovation is delivered through Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
According to experts, the next wave of digital technologies has the potential to transform Vietnam into Asia’s next high-performing economy and to raise living standards over the coming decades. But to sustain high growth, Vietnam will need to overcome substantial challenges. The workforce needs to upskill, especially as jobs become automated across agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
The event was held by the Association of Food Transparency, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia.