JICA support modernises agri-sector

The Japan International Co-operation Agency is expanding its support for Vietnam to develop the country’s hi-tech agro-fishery sector through more Japanese agricultural investment projects.

The agency (JICA) will spend US$103 million developing agricultural, fishery, and environmental studies at Can Tho University. These projects will be implemented during 2016-2020 by Japanese universities and enterprises, as well as by Can Tho University and Vietnamese enterprises. The projects will include the construction of greenhouses, laboratories, and aquaculture developments.

JICA will also spend US$10 million helping Vietnam manage sustainable natural resources from now to 2020.

“Japan will continue its support for Vietnam to develop the hi-tech agriculture and fishery sectors through the participation of a growing number of Japanese firms,” JICA Vietnam Office chief representative Mutsuya Mori told VIR.

For instance, Kato Group is co-operating with the south-central province of Binh Dinh in a US$771,000 tuna-fishing project, from now to June 2020. Meanwhile, over the same period, Shudensha Company is implementing an US$820,000 project to improve water quality in the fishery sector.

In other cases, OTA Kaki Company has been co-operating with the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong in a project to develop a high-quality flower market with an effective distribution system. This project will last until 2016. Nikko Foods Company has also been deploying an US$820,000 project in Lam Dong to develop high-quality tomatoes.

Yasuo Matsuyama, general director of Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ in Vietnam, noted that a kilogramme of tomatoes produced by Vietnamese farmers was priced at VND8,000-10,000 (US$0.38-0.47) at the local market, and VND15,000-25,000 (US$0.7-1.17) at supermarkets. Still, the price was VND40,000 (US$1.9) for a kilogramme of Japanese-branded tomatoes made in Vietnam. When this product was exported to Japan, the wholesale price is US$3.04 for a kilogramme.

“The number of Japanese firms aiming to implement agro-fishery projects in Vietnam has been increasing rapidly, with many conducting market surveys to ascertain the full potential,” Mori said.

“Vietnam’s agriculture has huge potential. For instance, under our surveys in Lam Dong, if local farmers replace coffee trees with flowers, their income will increase nine-fold,” he said.

In the near future, JICA will apply a hi-tech agricultural development model in the northern province of Ha Nam. Currently, JICA is collecting information about IT applications in agricultural development throughout the province, including in cultivation, harvesting, processing, and marketing. This project is being conducted under the instruction of Japan’s AEON.

JICA is also supporting Lam Dong and the central province of Nghe An in projects to develop the high-quality agricultural product value chain. At the recent Vietnam-Japan Economic Forum in Hanoi, Kawada Atsusuke, chief representative of the Japan External Trade Organisation in Vietnam, said the organisation would take the leaders of 20 Japanese enterprises to Vietnam this month to seek agricultural investment opportunities here.

In 2014, 37 Japanese enterprises were licensed for agricultural investment projects in Vietnam. However, this number was expected to reach 95 this year, Atsusuke estimated.

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