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The EU market is very demanding in terms of compliance with standards. Its consumers value high quality products with special characteristics such as organic growing and geographical indications. Therefore, applications of agriculture 4.0 are needed to help Vietnamese farm produce carve a market niche in the EU.

Opportunities and challenges

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is expected to boost Vietnam’s exports to the EU market. This agreement is considered a great opportunity for Vietnam to promote its agricultural products in difficult markets. However, the agricultural sector will also face many challenges in meeting strict international standards, such as food safety and hygiene, quality, traceability, and sustainable use of natural resources.

At a policy dialogue themed “Agriculture 4.0: Help Farmers Access International Markets” organized by the Industry and Trade Review in collaboration with the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) and Bayer Vietnam, EuroCham Vice Chairman Ywert Visser said agriculture is one of the high potential areas in which Vietnam and the EU can cooperate. Vietnam can make the most of European advantages, such as technologies and techniques in cultivation. On the other hand, European consumers are interested in Vietnamese seafood and agricultural products such as tea, coffee, cocoa, and spices.

Nguyen Thi Mai Linh, head of the Agricultural, Forest and Aquatic Product Import, Export Division of the Agency of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that when the EVFTA takes effect, Vietnamese businesses would have a great opportunity to promote exports of agricultural, forestry and fishery products to the EU because of a reduction in tariffs.

However, while the EU market is large and high-spending, it is very demanding in terms of compliance with standards, unique characteristics and geographical indicators, presenting challenges for Vietnamese farmers and exporters.

Promoting agriculture 4.0

Kohei Sakata, customer experience and digital strategy head for Asia Pacific at Bayer Crop Science, said Bayer aims to bring digital solutions to enhance smallholder farmers’ technical capabilities in order to optimize their cultivation method and overcome climate challenges to achieve higher yield, quality, and profit.

Among digital solutions, drones can help smallholder farmers prevent chemical hazards. The drone can spray the fields with crop protection products, protecting farmers from exposure to harmful chemicals. This also ensures efficient spraying, avoiding overuse or disuse of chemical products. In addition, drones can contribute to water saving because they use very limited levels of valuable water. Drones can also be a great solution for labor shortages affecting farmers in many countries.

Within the framework of the Rice Value Chain program between Bayer and Trung An, an exclusive strategic cooperation agreement was signed to jointly promote the local application of unmanned agricultural aerial systems and provide a customized plant protection service to help improve cultivation capacity and control residues in high quality rice production, targeting the export market. The two-year pilot project was launched in May in Trung An’s 200ha farm in Kien Giang Province.

Another Bayer bioscience technology makes seeds more tolerant to pest attacks, for example fall armyworm (FAW) in corn, a global threat significantly reducing corn yield.

EuroCham is also trying to connect European companies with Vietnamese agriculture businesses, organizing activities to disseminate information in order to help them make the most of opportunities provided by the EVFTA. In addition, EuroCham is connecting potential EU investors with Vietnamese firms and supporting European companies wishing to invest in Vietnam.