Economic Sector

Last updated: Wednesday, May 15, 2019


From Smart Agriculture to Agriculture 4.0

Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2018

In 2017, in the light of the concept of Agriculture 4.0, countries like the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Brazil and Argentina produced hundreds of millions of tonnes of agricultural products, such as corn, soybeans and vegetables, while labour cost to total costs was just five per cent.

First models
Vietnam's agriculture has seen some individual application models of Agriculture 4.0 since 2010 like smart solutions and smart equipment. Many areas of rice cultivation in the north and the south adopted solutions to reduce water consumption, use smart fertilisers or sensor-controlled automatic watering. Another model is the cooperation between agribusiness and researchers to apply smart solutions, like the cooperation between the Institute of Agricultural Science for Southern Vietnam and Eco Tiger Joint Stock Company to produce organic rice in Chau Thanh district, Tra Vinh province. Thousands of tonnes of organic rice meeting the United States, the European Union (EU) and Japanese standards has been produced.

Applying smart devices requires huge capital investment, knowledgeable human resources, technology and equipment. For this reason, just a few big enterprises can do this. For example, Anh Dao Cooperative (based in Da Lat - Lam Dong province) applies in VietGAP vegetable production, turning out 50,000 tonnes for domestic consumption and 4,000 tonnes for export and earning US$10 million of revenue a year. VinEco deployed many farming solutions and smart equipment since October 2015. So far, the company has successfully built and developed 15 farms covering nearly 3,000 hectares of production area. The firm has applied a variety of farming techniques and intelligent equipment such as greenhouse climate control (France), Sky Green multi-layer (Singapore), and membrane house and watering technology (Israel). Each month, VinEco supplies thousands of tonnes of various agricultural products to the market.

In livestock husbandry, some farms in Vietnam are adopting smart management, smart technology, automatic feeding, programmed feeding and livestock age-based feeding, and automatic lighting, using Microsoft SmartChick software provided by Microsoft Vietnam with IoT technology and internet.

Smart technologies and equipment are also applied by the Breeding Centre of Ho Chi Minh City and Huy Long An Co., Ltd (Long An province) to mechanise cow farming. TH True Milk Group has built Asia's largest smart dairy farm, raising more than 45,000 cows.

Also in livestock farming, Phu Tho organic chicken egg production factory is the first plant in Vietnam to control biological safety throughout the whole chicken egg production process. 100 per cent of stock are reared with the Agrotop Insulated Prefabricated System (Israel) installed in cages; Hytem automatic temperature, humidity and wind flow control (Japan); and Nagakawwa water purification system (Japan). The time from egg laying to supermarkets/shops is 24 hours. The plant can produce 500,000 eggs per day, or 175 million eggs per year.

“Connected agriculture” is the future of agriculture. This concept is spreading rapidly and creating a significant breakthrough in the agricultural sector. Agribank software of Dai Thanh Joint Stock Company or software of VIFARM can connect every product globally, access to manufacturers, places of production, production processes, input materials, regulations, processing time and storage time. Up to now, about 30 farms and enterprises in the country are applying IoT, including 15 in Lam Dong province.

Agriculture 4.0 and solutions to not be left behind
The picture of Agriculture 4.0 will be a technologically closed process consisting of high quality seeds/stocks; smart fertilisers; herbal pesticides; precision farming; reduced seed loss; reduced greenhouse gas emissions; automated harvesting, preservation, transportation and processing; and cloud computing applied for traceability. But, Vietnam has not had a complete model yet.

In spite of the fact that smart agricultural production models are increasingly attractive to agricultural investors, there is no national strategy for smart agricultural development, or the upcoming Agriculture 4.0. Investors and experts have called on Government agencies to develop an Agriculture 4.0 Development Programme, which includes Agriculture 4.0 development on the national scale and on the ecological local scale.

Experts also recommend setting up special banks for high-tech agriculture and Agriculture 4.0, and setting aside funds for smart device research and application, and formation of information banks on soil nutrition to provide free land data to farmers.

At the same time, there is a dire need to foster close cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and speed up training to serve the construction of chain links to apply the Industry 4.0 to produce, process and consume Agriculture 4.0 products. The agricultural sector needs to revise its policy on adoption of imported technical advances.

The forecast by Embedded Computing Design Company and the technology trend analysis report by the Centre for Science and Technology Information and Statistics under the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology showed that global smart agricultural solutions market posts an annual growth of 11.2 per cent and will reach US$40 billion in 2026 thanks to the strong growth of Agriculture 4.0.

Endowed with outstanding agricultural advantages, Vietnam should soon define Agriculture 4.0 as a solution for agriculture to accelerate its development pace.

Nguyen Thanh

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