Sustainable Agriculture Development Policies: Learnings from Some Countries and Vietnam's Strategy

Sustainable Agriculture Development Policies: Learnings from Some Countries and Vietnam's Strategy

Published: 2022.11.23
Accepted: 2022.11.21
122
Regional Sustainable Development Research Institute, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences

ABSTRACT

Sustainable agricultural development is the management and maintenance of organizational, technical and institutional changes for agricultural development in order to ensure the increasing human demand for agricultural products and services, while meeting needs of the future. According to Vietnamese and international researchers, sustainable agricultural development must ensure ecological health, economic efficiency, social and human justice. Vietnam, after nearly 40 years of implementing Doi Moi, not only considers agricultural development the focus of its strategies in the regional and national socio-economic development context, but also in knowing how to exploit and take advantage of traditional values ​​in combination with the application of science and technology. With a consistent development perspective with national goals and orientation expressed in the strategy of sustainable agricultural and rural development to 2030, and with a vision that extends up to 2050 approved by the Prime Minister in 2021, there are many important new breakthroughs in terms of institutions and policies, affirming the role and mission of Vietnam's agriculture and rural areas. This article will focus on summarizing and evaluating the experiences of some countries such as India, Brazil, China and Thailand in the world in the issue of sustainable agricultural and rural development and the current strategy of agricultural and rural development in Vietnam. From there, lessons are drawn in the process of implementing the strategy of sustainable agricultural and rural development in Vietnam.

Keywords: Sustainability, Agricultural, Rural development, Policy, Vietnam

INTRODUCTION

Sustainable agricultural development is the management and maintenance of organizational, technical and institutional changes for agricultural development in order to ensure the increasing human demand for agricultural products and services, while meeting needs of the future (FAO, 1992). Sustainable agricultural development is a multi-dimensional process, including: 1) the sustainability of the food chain (from producer to consumer, directly related to input supply, processing and markets); 2) sustainability in the use of land and water resources in space and time; and 3) commercial interoperability in agricultural and rural development to ensure subsistence and food security within and between regions (Pham Doan, 2005). Thus, in principle, according to Vietnamese and international researchers, sustainable agricultural development must ensure ecological health, economic efficiency, social and human justice.

Coming from a country with a tradition of "farming from the village" and wet rice culture, Vietnam, after nearly 40 years of implementing Doi Moi, not only considers agricultural development the focus of its strategies in the regional and national socio-economic development context, but also in knowing how to exploit and take advantage of traditional values ​​in combination with the application of science and technology. In the process, there is gradual modernization of agriculture and it serves as the basis for the development of the country, industry, services and other key economic sectors of the country.

Statistics show that in recent years, Vietnam's agriculture has achieved rapid growth with a remarkable growth rate in quantity and quality in production and consumption in all sectors, fields and areas such as cultivation, animal husbandry, forestry and fisheries (GSO, 2021). Besides, in Vietnam, there is a formation and progress towards stability and development in modern agricultural forms in line with the trend of modern agriculture and the world's common position such as clean and organic agriculture. The 4.0 revolution also has an increasingly profound impact on agriculture, contributing to increasing production to meet domestic and international demand. Vietnam's agriculture has ensured national food security and is gradually dominating the international export market. By now, Vietnam is the second largest rice exporter worldwide with about 6.4 million tons of rice worldwide in 2020/2021 after India and having the highest volume of rice exports worldwide, reaching 15.5 million tons by 2020/2021 (Do Thi Bich Thuy, 2022).

With a consistent development perspective with national goals and orientation expressed in the strategy of sustainable agricultural and rural development to 2030, and with a vision that extends up to 2050 approved by the Prime Minister in 2021, there are many important new breakthroughs in terms of institutions and policies, affirming the role and mission of Vietnam's agriculture and rural areas. The State creates all conditions to promote sustainable agricultural development in service of accelerating the process of industrialization and modernization of the country. The strategy affirms that “Agriculture, farmers and rural areas have a strategic position in the cause of industrialization and modernization. Agriculture is the country's advantage and sustainable foundation. The countryside is an important economic development area, a cultural and social foundation. Farmers are an important workforce and human resource.”

This article will focus on summarizing and evaluating the experiences of some countries in the world in the issue of sustainable agricultural and rural development and the current strategy of agricultural and rural development in Vietnam. From there, lessons are drawn in the process of implementing the strategy of sustainable agricultural and rural development in Vietnam.

EXPERIENCES IN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT OF SOME COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

India

As a country that is expected to have the largest population in the world by 2050, India will face many difficulties and challenges and develop its own development strategy, especially in the field of agriculture. Since the late `60s in the 20th century, India has paid special attention to and oriented its citizens to innovating agricultural production to meet domestic food demand and export agricultural products to the world. Through the increased use of high-yielding seeds, plus the application of technology such as the use of advanced machinery, irrigation techniques and fertilizers in the input stage of agricultural production, this country has achieved a lot during the green revolution (1963). Besides, India also researched and organized the implementation of the White Revolution (milk production) in the `70s, creating a great change in livestock production. This revolution has made India one of the leading dairy producers and exporters in the world in the early years of the 21st century (from 17 million tons in 1951, to 81 million tons in 2000, 91 million tons in 2005 and 96.1 million tons in 2006). Up to now, India's specific milk production model has been consistently studied by experts in many countries.

At the end of the 20th century, India began the first comprehensive economic reform, agriculture was considered a central area of ​​socio-economic development. Accordingly, a series of measures have been applied by the Government, in which the application of new farming technologies and techniques to agriculture is the leading factor and plays an important role in increasing food production.

Entering the 21st century, the Government of India continues to carry out economic reforms in the agricultural sector for the second time, announcing a new agricultural policy with the main contents: Increasing investment in agriculture; Prioritizing rural electrification and irrigation; and Eliminating subsidies in agriculture and promoting international cooperation in agriculture.

A study on sustainable agricultural development in India in 2021 (Sustainable Agriculture in India 2021) by Niti Gupta et al., found that in the beginning, despite its focus on agricultural development, the sustainability of agricultural development in India has not been focused on. With a few exceptions, most systems that are implementing sustainable agricultural production have less than 5 million farmers (or 4%) involved. In particular, crop rotation is one of the most basic and widespread systems of implementing sustainable agricultural production in this country, covering about 30 million hectares and approximately 15 million farmers. However, despite government policy support, organic farming currently accounts for only 2% of India's total net planted area (140 million hectares).

Recognizing the growing importance of promoting sustainable agriculture, from 2014-2015, India had a National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) to promote sustainable agriculture. This includes a number of programs focusing on agroforestry, water management in rainfall areas, soil and water quality management, climate impact and adaptation. However, only 0.8% of the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare (MoAFW) is allocated to the NMSA. In addition to MoAFW's budget of INR142,000 (US$20) billion, the Government of India also spends about INR71,309 (US$10) billion annually on fertilizer subsidies (Niti Gupta et al., 2021).

In sustainable agricultural production systems, there are 8 production activities (among total of 30 activities) receive some budget support from various Indian government programs, including: organic farming, farming systems synthesis, rainwater collection and storage, terrace farming, vermicompost, mulch, precision farming and IPM (integrated pest management). Of these, organic agriculture has received the most policy attention as Indian states have also developed proprietary organic farming policies. Similar to the policy aspect, organic agriculture is of great interest to social and community organizations in India. These social organizations provide a variety of support to promote sustainable agricultural production implementation systems, including training, capacity building and awareness raising among farmers, and assistance with investment preparation, seed entry and management, and field demonstration activities. A few are also involved in technology transfer, etc.

The specific policies of India currently in the area of ​​sustainable agricultural development include:

Policy on application of modern technology: India approaches and applies a number of modern technologies such as agricultural biotechnology to create a great impact on production costs and prices for agricultural commodities. At the same time, India spearheads the application of advanced machines and tools to agricultural production, helping to increase productivity. In addition, many production facilities build cold storage systems and transport chains to the market to ensure quality to consumers and reduce losses to a minimum.

Policy on information technology for agriculture (digital agriculture): As one of the leading countries in information technology and digital technology, the Indian government has a policy to encourage the use of digital technology and mobile communication system to develop agricultural information support services for farmers. In addition, scientists have developed a mobile application called "rice expert" to provide farmers with information on related issues such as diseases, rice varieties, fertilizers, etc. In April 2016, India launched the Electronic National Agricultural Market (e-NAM), which integrates 585 wholesale markets across India. In addition, India has been developing an electronic farm network (eFarm) that helps consumers reduce worries about storing agricultural products.

Policy on training and developing high-quality human resources: Right from the middle of the 20th century, India has seriously trained high-quality human resources to serve modern agriculture. In this country, agricultural universities are available in all 25 states and 7 centrally-affiliated territories, of which the famous Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) has been elevated to the National Rice Research Institute.

Investment policy in market demand research and infrastructure: India is taking measures to study market demand in importing countries, and plan accordingly in terms of quantity and quality. It also has a long-term price support policy for seafood production, livestock, traditional products, horticultural products and processing. In addition, India has increased its investments in infrastructure development for post-harvest management, including widening highways and improving rural roads.

Policies to support farmers to expand product consumption markets: Under the policy of expanding agricultural markets, India has developed and upgraded Gramin Farmers Markets (GrAMs) that are electronically linked to e-NAM, to assist farmers who are unable to deliver goods directly at APMC (Agricultural Production Market Committee) and other wholesale markets. Along with that, India launched the "Green Campaign" to help bring farmers closer to the market through logistics, processing facilities and professional management, to address the challenge of price fluctuations of the farmers vis a vis their agricultural products. Besides, there are a series of policies such as: Minimum support price; Price support scheme; Market intervention project to adjust supply in the market. (Vu Thi Thuy Hang, 2019).

Brazil

Looking back at its history, as a developing country in South America, Brazil, in the 1960s specialized in importing agricultural products for domestic consumption. Because there is no agricultural production technology suitable to the soil conditions, the local agricultural output is not efficient. However, thanks to the right policy in the application of a series of technological advances in agriculture, Brazil's farmers today are making great strides, and today Brazil has become one of the 10 countries with a high yield, and is currently a leading agricultural exporter in the world.

However, the price to pay for the increase in agricultural output in Brazil is the failure to correlate agriculture with sustainable development. Brazil is a country ranked as the most in terms of biodiversity in the world with 12% of the world’s species. It also has the largest river basin in the world; however, deforestation in large areas of high ecological value leads to many species of animals and plants in danger of extinction. In addition, Brazil is increasingly becoming one of the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters.

The Nature Conservancy has been present in Brazil since 1988, its activities are based on reconciling the protection of natural ecosystems with socio-economic development, while respecting the traditions of its locals. This organization plays an increasingly important role and influence in Brazilian agricultural development policy, especially in the direction of sustainable agriculture development and biodiversity conservation. With the view of developing agricultural production, expanding the scale of cultivation and responsible consumption market, the agricultural industry has made efforts to improve the environment. Brazil has been very successful in transitioning from a traditional model of geographical production to more efficient intensive production, which reduces the impact on the environment and ensures the health of the ecosystem. 

In addition, inefficient production areas due to deforestation but with high or medium agricultural development potential can add value to the entire production cycle, especially if calculating existing and planned infrastructure. This is the reason why Nature Conservancy in Brazil has launched breakthrough strategies such as: Sustainable Production Chains, Environmental Governance, Management and Planning Tools and Economic Incentives.

Sustainable production chains strategy: This strategy creates a link in the production chain consisting of the manufacturer, supplier, distributor or retailer involved. All links in this production chain must meet the standards of sustainable production practices. At the same time, healthy links create a strong supply chain, providing better performance and competitive advantage. The identification and monitoring of environmental and social standards for agricultural products from the input stage (seedling, cultivation) to the final destination of consumption and distribution of products will bring benefits to the farmers. That product is legal as well as a responsible product in the eyes of consumers, who increasingly demand sustainable production.

This strategy includes activities such as:

  • Stimulating good agricultural practices: It includes a set of principles, standards and technical recommendations that apply to the production chain and focuses on maintaining healthy people, protecting the environment and improving the conditions of workers and their families.
  • Issuing environmental and social certificates: meeting economic, social and environmental standards.
  • Assessing the "water footprint" of companies: The concept of "water footprint" includes multidimensional indicators showing the amount of water consumed by source and the level of pollution classified by type of wastewater. It provides a broad view of the relationship between a particular consumer or product and the use of water resources. Once the amount of water has been calculated and its sustainability assessed, companies will then establish a separate policy on water use to avoid, reduce and ultimately offset their water intake and achieve water neutrality.
  • Tracking and monitoring in the supply chain: This is considered the key to good production chain management. The aim is to closely monitor the environmental status of the farms, in order to improve the sustainability of production in the long term. The Nature Conservancy in Brazil has used technology to register various environmental and legal information about farms in a geodatabase. The data is charted on satellite images that are updated annually, generating reports that make it possible to analyze changes in land use, deforestation or any other changes that have occurred in the region and farms. These tools allow monitoring of large-scale farming operations, gathering information that can be used for compliance actions or confirming the social environment of large groups of producers in an area. In some areas, this information is already available on Web-based monitoring portals, even allowing farmers and suppliers to insert their data directly.
  • Building sustainable livestock farms.

Environmental governance: The Nature Conservancy has helped to align the environmental management, compliance, control and monitoring models used by state and municipal governments in Brazil. The goal is to bring agricultural land-use practices in rural areas into compliance with environmental laws in order to increase efficiency and scale up large-scale conservation. Accompanied by capacity building of public authorities and effective participation of citizens and investors, ensuring that actions are taken to actually reduce deforestation and promote fair use with natural reason.

This strategy includes activities to:

  • Help define clear environmental licensing rules and procedures that are publicly accessible to state governments (in systems known as SIMLAM)
  • Establish geographic information systems that use map data on rural assets to facilitate monitoring and control of deforestation, degradation, and forest restoration.
  • Train and strengthen the force of public authorities responsible for environmental management and land standards to pay more attention to the implementation of sustainable production of properties in rural areas.
  • Establish local agreements outlining sector-specific responsibilities to bring properties into compliance with environmental laws, working at the city level, with state and federal involvement.

Strategic Planning and use of management tools (Planning and Management Tools): The development of tools for geographic mapping, property registration and monitoring, and fulfillment of environmental obligations in rural areas through satellite data is an important step in creating a productive landscape. Sustainable production is effective in the production and use of natural resources. These tools help farmers and government agencies comply with the requirements of the Forest Code, which requires a certain percentage of rural assets (“legitimate protected areas”)), as well as some vulnerable areas such as slopes and riverbanks ("permanent reserves"), which are preserved as native vegetation. The main tools applied to rural properties in centrally-run cities or to the entire Brazilian river basin include: Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), Building Zones conservation, Biodiversity conservation plan, Identification of high conservation value areas, City micro-zoning, Building and developing sustainable production chains for agriculture.

Economic incentives: This strategy aims to identify economic mechanisms that incentivize farmers to protect their natural ecosystems. For example, the development of Payments for Environmental Services (PES) projects, which enable rural landowners to carry out forest conservation and restoration activities to protect water resources in key areas such as along the river, in the stream and on the top of the hill, and they will receive funding to support these activities. The development of forest restoration not only protects and maintains water resources, but also helps stabilize the climate by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen. The Nature Conservancy developed these projects and used the funds generated to co-finance forest restoration activities, thereby generating payments for the environmental services provided. This economic dynamic has contributed to the process of bringing farmers with rural land use activities into compliance with Brazil's Environmental law.

China

Agriculture has been the cornerstone of China's economy for centuries and remains vital to the world's sustainability. China has made great achievements in providing food for 22% of the world's population with 9% of the world's arable land. With China's and the world's rapid population growth over the past several decades putting more pressure on China's agricultural industry to expand agricultural production, experts estimate that nearly 100 billion kilograms more of grains is needed by 2030, which requires an annual increase of 1% in its current production (Liu, Zhang and Herbert, 2010).

On the other hand, the continuous processes of rapid economic growth and urbanization bring not only great opportunities but also new challenges to agriculture and rural society as labor resources in the field of agriculture decreased. To ensure food security and boost agricultural output, China has made great efforts to generate research and apply technological advances in areas ranging from irrigation to the use of chemicals and fertilizers, genetic modification, the use of machinery-mechanization in agriculture, etc. It has increased its agricultural productivity, cut on its production costs, and reduced its labor force (Jialing Yu and Jian Wu, 2018).

However, changes in agricultural production and socio-economic environment in China have resulted in serious damage to the environment, affecting the landscape, water, soil and nutrients, and biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, desertification, etc. Agriculture-related pollution sources include overuse or abuse of agrochemicals, poorly managed livestock wastewater, and wastewater pollution, irrigation, etc., which reduces sustainability in agriculture (Norse, D; Ju, X., 2015).

To solve the problem of agricultural development, since the early 1980s, China has paid more and more attention to sustainable agricultural activities suitable to its national conditions. China's sustainable agriculture can be described as a comprehensive agricultural system based on a multi-layered and multi-purpose intensification management system and on the successful experience of agricultural activities, especially traditional Chinese organic farming methods.

This agricultural system is designed and managed in accordance with ecological and eco-economic principles as well as systems engineering approach, and by applying advanced science and technology. Three principles are emphasized: (1) protection and conservation of natural resources and the environment are fundamental to sustainable agricultural productivity; meanwhile, food security and income growth are prerequisites to reduce pressure on the environment; (2) sustainable agriculture emphasizes the relationship of the components of the agricultural system and the relationship between the agricultural system and its physical and socio-economic environment; and (3) sustainable agriculture emphasizes that agricultural resources need to be recycled and saved in the production system to reduce the negative impact of external inputs and production waste on the environment and reduce waste and cost of agricultural products (Luo and Han, 1990).

In recent years, environmental issues have begun to receive more attention and focus in China's development policy making. The Chinese government has tried to solve this problem by issuing major policies to reduce the negative environmental impact of agricultural production including:

      A policy of directing and controlling standards and rules governing agricultural pollution has been gradually established to reduce water pollution from livestock and agrochemical applications and air pollution from biomass combustion under the Ministry of Environment and Protection (now restructured as the Ministry of Ecological Environment). For example, burning biomass in the harvest season causes serious air pollution in rural areas and is therefore prohibited and monitored by remote sensing technology. Crop residues are encouraged to be recycled on site or used as animal feed and bioenergy with government support subsidizing farmers or biomass processing companies. In 2015, the Ministry of Agriculture set targets on controlling the use of agrochemicals, aiming to limit the growth of fertilizers and pesticides use by 2020. Alternative methods include improving efficiency in use of chemicals, application of fertilizer formulations determined by soil testing, recycling of agricultural wastes (such as cattle manure, crop residues, etc.).

Conservation policies have also been adopted and passed to reduce the ecological impact of agriculture by the former State Forestry Administration.

Tax incentives: Many taxes were reduced from 2000 to 2004 and reduced to only half, the shortfall in local budgets due to tax exemptions and reductions was compensated by the central government. The reduction of many taxes, to only three types of taxes: agricultural taxes, administrative fees and fees for performing general work, has reduced the burden on farmers by 30% on average.

The Chinese government's digital agriculture development strategy: including Rural e-commerce platform model, Internet-based agricultural service model.

“Internet plus agriculture” strategy: This strategy is to create a favorable agricultural ecosystem. In 2015, the Chinese Government issued a strategy, upgrading the agricultural value chain completely from inputs, production, processing and consumption, by integrating agriculture with Internet and information communication technologies and other media (typically in Hainan province). With the help of the new strategy, the total online sales of agricultural products in China in 2017 reached USD 42 billion, the output value of the agricultural product processing industry reached USD 3081 billion, and the revenue from recreational agriculture and rural tourism reached USD 103,6 billion. The strategy has created millions of jobs and helped alleviate poverty in poor rural areas.

Agricultural value chain model: By linking the components of the traditional supply chain, such as supply methods, research and production, integrated sales through mobile Internet, IoT and big data. China has built an agricultural value chain model with the aim of creating a series of value-added services for agricultural production, improving the lives of rural farmers, and promoting consumption models. thereby improving the efficiency of the agricultural supply chain.

Through the collection and analysis of information on agricultural production, processing, storage, trade, distribution, etc., the supply chain can be better managed. This is the core value of the agricultural value chain model, allowing all aspects of the hard chain to be more clearly divided and connected more smoothly. This model also maximizes production capacity; reduces risks and transaction costs; improves the efficiency of agricultural production, management and processing; and favors rural consumption.

Model of e-commerce platform in rural areas: China is also accelerating the use of e-commerce in rural areas, with e-commerce giants such as Alibaba, JD.com and Suning taking root in the rural market since 2015. Rural electronics play an important role in poverty reduction, so it is given special attention and support by the Chinese Government. An example is the establishment of Broadband Villages” to improve Internet speed and reduce tariffs to encourage farmers to adopt more Internet-based agricultural solutions. The rural e-commerce platform model is typical for the application of Internet Plus in the agricultural sector, whose core value is to provide specific market transactions, reduce information collection costs and supply and demand sides are aligned with each other.

Internet-based agricultural service model: The 3rd Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China gave farmers the right to occupy, use, earn and transfer land according to their contracts, as well as assigning them the right to mortgage and secure their interests in rural land management. In addition, it allows farmers to develop an industrialized agricultural operation by becoming a shareholder through management rights over the contracted lands. To develop different forms of operation, farmers are encouraged to transfer management rights to large-scale professional investors, family ranchers, farmer cooperatives and agribusinesses on the public market.

Thailand

Before 2021, Thailand was the second largest rice exporter in the world (after India). Consequently, agriculture is considered as one of the most important economic sectors of Thailand. According to statistics of the World Bank (WB), laborers working in the agricultural sector accounted for 30.43% of the total labor force of the Thai labor market in 2019. However, at present, Thailand is facing difficulties and challenges for the agricultural sector such as: climate change (drought, saltwater intrusion, lack of fresh water...); limited natural resources (agricultural land area reduced, energy); human resources (restructuring labor from agriculture to services and other fields, high labor costs in agriculture), global economic instability due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the context of the economy. With such difficulties in agriculture, the Thai Government has decisive policies for the sustainable agricultural development of Thailand:

Agricultural product price subsidies and farmer support policies: Thailand has applied many measures to support farmers in a timely manner, including: helping farmers affected by prolonged droughts; and purchasing rice from farmers at a price higher than the market price in order to support farmers with the cost of fertilizers, seeds for planting, soil improvement and harvesting. Rice farmers also enjoy incentives, such as buying fertilizers at low prices, free transportation of fertilizers, being provided with new high-yielding varieties, and receiving low-interest loans from agricultural banks. In particular, many incentives for capital and increased insurance for farmers are implemented by the Thai government, and agricultural taxes are abolished. To encourage farmers to modernize production, the Thai government has offered attractive incentives for upgrading production methods and harvesting quality to international quality standards, such as: Good Agricultural Practices, ISO-22000 Food Safety Management System Certification (Le Khanh Cuong, 2022).

Regional development policy: Based on the comparative advantages of each region and each locality in agricultural development, Thailand has focused on creating conditions for regions to promote their advantages and specificities in terms of climate, ecological and other natural conditions that are favorable in the development of specific agricultural products of each region. As a result, Thailand has increased the added value of agricultural products, resources are used economically and efficiently, and the requirements of sustainable development are met. At the same time, based on the advantages and conditions of the regions, Thailand has policies for each region: the policy of developing organic agriculture, the policy of one product per village, the policy of rural tourism.

Policy to develop organic agriculture: Due to the specific soil structure of each region, the solution to develop organic agriculture is chosen by the Thai government to exploit the specific advantages of agriculture in the region. The policy of developing organic agriculture is applied mainly to the rice-growing area. To implement this policy, farmers will be supported from buying seeds, planting techniques to marketing output to reduce the amount of pesticides in rice.

One product per village policy: Learning from the experience of Japan and Korea, the Thai government has implemented the policy of "one tambon one product" (OTOP). This movement has been launched by Thailand since 2001, where the Thai government provides support in marketing, sales promotion, training and technology transfer to farmers in order to develop traditional handicrafts of Thailand. Thailand has devoted to creating products with local characteristics of quality, unique in design and widely exported to the world market.

Policy on rural tourism development: The program "one village one product" is associated with the purpose of diversifying and enriching rural tourism products, creating attraction for tourists. With specific advantages in terms of natural conditions, ecology and cultural heritage, rural tourism development policy in Thailand focuses on organizing and creating space for tourists to sightsee, organize production to produce products and create a space to visit and enjoy local agricultural products, and organize traditional festivals.

War Digital agriculture development strategy: The results of a survey on the application of digital technology in agriculture in Thailand conducted by the Digital Economy Promotion Agency of Thailand (DEPA) in 2021 show that the agricultural sector of this country is still only at the agriculture 1.0 and 2.0 stage. However, within the next 5 years, the forecast is that the agricultural industry in this country will develop towards the application of high technology, also known as Agriculture 2.0 and 3.0, thanks to the support of the government and lower cost of equipment. In addition, DEPA is also ready to support farmers in applying quality digital technologies to farming activities to improve efficiency, reduce costs, increase production and income, and promote the industry. Thai agriculture is moving towards Agriculture 4.0, bringing high technology into the core of agricultural production.

To achieve that goal, Thailand has applied a digital agricultural development strategy:

Building a National Agricultural Information System (NAIS): Thailand has built a foundation for an agricultural information system. NAIS unites all stakeholders in the agricultural industry to create, collect, share and use data about agriculture. The platform includes comprehensive digital data warehouses, cloud storage, real-time data synchronization and user-friendly interface. Essential data sets such as farmer demographics, soil quality, soil elevation, planted area, weather forecasts, historical rainfall, prices and market trends, case studies and the basics of agriculture are the materials provided on the platform. Big data is used to provide more insights to stakeholders, giving a perspective on the dynamics and trends of the entire agricultural industry.

Based on this platform, agricultural data will be aggregated in the most accurate way. Farmers search for information about weather and market before restructuring and deploying production. The government also uses data from this system to plan new developments.

Building a data management system and working process in the agricultural mapping system (Agri-map): National Center for Computer and Electronic Technology (NECTEC), where important information about agriculture is stored (remote sensing data, local sensor data for weather, survey data, location data, economic data, geographic information system service data) helps farmers to plan plans to work seasonally and increase productivity, while providing solutions to help reduce negative outcomes of the current system, such as oversupply. Along with the application of new science, engineering and technology in the development of digital agriculture, since 2014 Thailand has initiated the Smart Farmer, where farmers are equipped with knowledge and skills so that farmers can use and master knowledge as well as science, engineering and technology to produce more efficiently and safely in agricultural production to meet market needs. After 8 years of implementing the project, there have been more than 1 million smart farmers, proficiently using knowledge and science and technology in agricultural production and bringing positive effects.

Policy to attract foreign investments for agricultural development, especially the food processing industry: The Thai government has an initial subsidy policy for processing plants, direct investments in infrastructure and investments in research and development; promoting the development of small and medium enterprises. In addition, Thailand has attractive financial policies for investors such as tax exemptions and reductions, monetary incentives, foreign currency loans, etc. to attract the most foreign direct investment capital. (FDI).

Policy on restructuring the industry and diversifying agricultural products: The product diversification policy is implemented by the Thai government to reduce market risks in price, stabilize the domestic consumer market, and fully exploit the internal resources of domestic capital and labor. The process of restructuring agricultural production in Thailand has clearly reflected the orientation of commercial development, diversifying and promoting comparative advantages. Due to the impact of drought, Thailand has sponsored consulting programs to help farmers abandon wet rice and switch to crops that require less water such as wheat, maize, legumes, etc.

Policy to establish a system risk protection system for farmers: Thailand established an agricultural product insurance fund for all farmers. The insurance coverage applies to food crops, oil crops, garden crops, commercial crops. The compensation level accounts for 60% - 90% of the average output. The Thai government has provided substantial funding to develop widespread agricultural insurance. For agricultural products, the government of Thailand supports increasing competitiveness in the form of: organizing agricultural fairs and exhibitions, promoting marketing, etc. The Thai state budget supports insurance support for rice is very large, contributing to keeping the rice price in the most beneficial way for farmers.

In addition to the above policies, Thailand offers five ways to improve farming techniques and promote sustainable agriculture in the future, including: (1) integrated farming systems used when two or more different agricultural activities on the same cultivated area, contributing to reducing costs for farmers and making the most of space and production potential; (2) organic agriculture, organic farming limits the amount of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers used in farming; (3) natural farming is the ideal sustainable farming model for many regions in Thailand, including no-till farming, no chemical use and complete ecosystem conservation with little damage from farming; (4) agroforestry, allowing the combination of crops and livestock, bringing double profits, contributing to the enhancement of land use capacity for sustainable agriculture, and promoting reforestation; (5) a new theory of agriculture, for farmers whose fields are limited in terms of area and lack of water resources. This emphasizes self-sufficiency by dividing the available land into four parts and using each part for different needs, including ponds (fish farming), fields (grow crops), natural rice fields, and consumption and living space (residential and livestock).

VIETNAM'S SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

After nearly 40 years of Doi Moi, Vietnam has gone from a backward agricultural country, with frequent risks of famine and food shortages in many regions, to now having agriculture that developed towards mechanized production. It has devoted to diversifying, modernizing and trading agricultural products to meet the needs of domestic and international agricultural markets. It can be said that the agricultural sector has made a great contribution to socio-political stability, industrialization and modernization, and improved the quality of people's lives and society in addition to being a “protective net” for the entire economy in times of crisis. The agricultural sector continues to perform this function fairly steadily during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, through distributing food to the poor and unemployed, stabilizing consumer prices, providing alternative employment and generating export revenue.

However, the growth of Vietnam's agricultural sector so far has been associated with the strategy of promoting growth through expansion of acreage, increasing the number of crops, exploitation of natural resources (land, water, forests, etc.), at the same time heavily dependent on labor and chemical factors in production (fertilizers and pesticides) that adversely affect the environment: deforestation, depletion of natural resources and loss of diversity biodiversity, soil degradation and water pollution. These consequences represent serious challenges for Vietnam on its way to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Well aware of that, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has integrated climate change mitigation and adaptation into all its plans and strategies, including the Framework Climate Change Adaptation Program for the period 2008-2020, Action Plan on Climate Change for Agriculture and Rural Development for the period 2016-2020, Green Growth Action Plan for Agriculture and Rural Development to 2020 and most recently the Action Plan for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in the period 2021-2030 of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In addition, the Government also implements a series of different programs related to agriculture and rural areas such as the Agricultural Restructuring Program in 2013 and the 2017 update plan to promote sustainable economic development, society and environment. The Agricultural Restructuring Program promotes the transformation from quantity-oriented production to agribusiness on the basis of market demand and enhances added value at low environmental costs. In other words, this program has the goal of helping the agricultural sector “add value, reduce inputs”, i.e. achieve economic value with less resources such as soil, water, biodiversity and labor.

Recently, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 150/QD-TTg approving the Strategy for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in the 2021 - 2030 period, with a vision to 2050. The strategy realizes orientations of Resolution of the 13th Party Congress, in which the agricultural restructuring process should be more closely associated with new rural construction, promoting sustainable agricultural development associated with opportunities in science and technology, and innovative new markets.

The strategy has identified 8 orientations and tasks for agricultural and rural development in the coming time: (1) complete the structure of agricultural production in association with competitive advantages and market requirements; (2) organize important stages in production to improve efficiency and ensure sustainable development; (3) promote cooperation, association, value chain development, advanced agricultural models; (4) promote rural economic development to create jobs and increase incomes for rural people; (5) build a civilized and modern countryside in association with urbanization, preserving traditional culture; (6) enhance inclusive development, ensuring equity and social welfare in rural areas; (7) build a strong community as the core of rural development and agricultural production; and (8) strengthen environmental protection, landscape adaptation to climate change.

In order to achieve the set goals, the strategy has offered the main solutions such as: informing, educating, renewing thinking, unifying awareness and action; renovating production and business organization, perfecting production relations; improve the quality of vocational training, qualifications and efficiency of research, application, transfer of science and technology and innovation; develop domestic and foreign markets to ensure stable output for agricultural products; construction and completion of infrastructure; renew and improve the capacity, effectiveness and efficiency of state management; proactively adapt to climate change, manage risks; international integration and cooperation; formulating, completing and implementing a number of breakthrough mechanisms and policies; monitoring and evaluation.

Through studying the experiences in agricultural development of some countries in the world: India, Brazil, China and Thailand, and based on the actual conditions in Vietnam, some lessons can be drawn. The experience for sustainable agricultural development in Vietnam is as follows:

First, it is necessary to continue to research, review and perfect the legal basis, create conditions for the agricultural and rural sector to develop sustainably, always associate agricultural development with sustainable development, in which the main focus is on tax exemption and reduction books for individuals and businesses working in the agricultural sector; capital support policy in agricultural production investment; policies to attract investment in agriculture; policies on inspection and supervision of environmental violations in agricultural production.

Second, applying science and technology in agricultural production, developing digital agriculture and smart agriculture. It is necessary to promote research, application and transfer of science and technology, in which high technology, digital technology and information technology are strongly applied in all stages of the value chain, synchronously connecting with other industries and fields to form smart agricultural production, effectively use resources, free up labor, improve productivity and quality, and master technology.

Third, continue to promote the process of reforming training programs and methods, improving the quality of human resources, towards smart farmers. Farmers towards agriculture 3.0, the future is 4.0, requires farmers to master new scientific and technological knowledge and skills, so it is necessary to continuously train and improve capacity to meet the requirements.

Fourth: To develop agriculture in association with environmental protection and to develop eco-tourism in association with regional and local advantages. Learning the model of one village with one product based on the advantages and natural conditions of each Region, having development policies to promote regional products to become typical and symbolic of each Region and at the same time associated with agricultural development and green industry, thereby associated with the development of ecotourism, bringing local culture and products to domestic and international tourists.

Briefly, the fast comparison of sustainable agricultural policies of different countries showing that the solution to invest in Science, Technology and Innovation of China and Thailand government had supported strongly their sustainable development achievement. Vietnam should prioritize the public investment in Science, Technology and Innovation in the next decade.

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