Toward Smart, Modern Agriculture

9:18:09 AM | 12/1/2023

Lao Cai has leveraged digital technology in its pursuit of meeting new rural standards, aiming to bolster the effectiveness of the National Target Program on New Rural Development. This initiative seeks to propel rural economic growth, enhance the quality of life for residents, and propel the province toward the realization of a smart countryside.

Lao Cai province aims to boost rural economic growth and improve residents’ quality of life

The application of digital technology in agricultural development has emerged as a pivotal force for socio-economic development in Lao Cai, especially within the framework of new rural construction. According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Lao Cai, 62 out of 127 communes in the province have attained new rural standards, with four communes recognized as advanced new rural communes. To facilitate the digital transformation program for new rural development, the department has established a common database for streamlined management, applying digital technology to resolve administrative procedures. This foundational step has culminated in the development of a quality management software system for agricultural products, serving nearly 400 enterprises and agricultural cooperatives across the province.

The Thang Loi Fruit and Vegetable Cooperative in Sa Pa town stands out as a trailblazer in adopting the Nextfarm Fertikit 4G automatic irrigation and fertilization system. This innovative system tailors water and nutrient supply to the specific needs of crops, ensuring consistent humidity levels and mitigating the spread of pests and diseases, thereby enhancing crop yield. Additionally, the Nextfarm Fertikit 4G, a web- and mobile app-based system, facilitates traceability, tracking, recording, and management of farm operations.

Mr. Tran Tuan Nghia, Director of Thang Loi Fruit and Vegetable Cooperative, emphasized that digital transformation not only elevates farmers' income but also reduces production costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Modern irrigation, calibrated based on real-time weather conditions, has been instrumental in boosting output by up to 25% compared to traditional methods.

The application of the irrigation and fertilization system has extended beyond Thang Loi Cooperative to various crops, including tea, oranges, tangerines, and those cultivated in greenhouses and net houses, such as melons, tomatoes, strawberries, asparagus, and grapes.

Gia Phu commune in Bao Thang district is among the four selected localities to pilot the implementation of a digital transformation model at the commune level for the period 2023-2025. This commune, comprising six cooperatives and 126 business households predominantly engaged in agriculture, has witnessed the effective integration of digital technology in the new rural construction movement. Notably, Gia Phu has collaborated with relevant agencies to develop traceability stamps with QR codes, ensuring product origin verification and safeguarding cooperative product brands. Simultaneously, the commune has guided cooperatives in adopting software for electronic payments, electronic invoices, and information technology in production. All 10 One Commune One Product (OCOP) products of the commune are actively promoted on e-commerce platforms, showcasing the full potential of digital transformation in enhancing sales, connecting with customers, and executing economic contracts in the digital realm.

Presently, over 70% of cooperatives in Lao Cai employ high technology, such as automation and biotechnology, in farming management. Additionally, more than 75% of surveyed cooperatives utilize applications like Zalo and Viber, as well as management software, to update information, conduct operations, and facilitate communication between management and staff members.

Digital transformation has enabled Lao Cai farmers to establish direct connections with consumers, reducing reliance on intermediaries. All certified Lao Cai agricultural products under the province's OCOP have achieved exposure on e-commerce platforms. A total of 101 businesses and cooperatives, representing 322 product lines, have been granted access to the Trade Promotion System software for agricultural products in Lao Cai. Moreover, over 161 businesses, cooperatives, and establishments actively participate in introducing and promoting products on the system, featuring 237 product lines. This system has played a pivotal role in supporting businesses and farmers in marketing agricultural products, thereby enhancing the competitiveness and advantages of the province's agricultural offerings.

The digital transformation goal is to empower each farmer to operate as a trader and every cooperative to function as an enterprise that applies digital technology.

Mr. Nguyen Trung Kien, Deputy Chief of the Lao Cai New Rural Coordination Office, underscored the province's digital transformation, with a clear vision outlined in the program up to 2025 and beyond to 2030. The agricultural sector is identified as a priority area in building new smart rural areas. The overarching goal is to empower each farmer to operate as a trader and every cooperative to function as an enterprise that applies digital technology across production, supply, and distribution, ultimately fostering the development of e-commerce.

In the upcoming period, Lao Cai will focus on guiding businesses, cooperatives, and business households to leverage management and business platforms. The province is dedicated to supporting and promoting key agricultural products on e-commerce platforms, implementing digital technology for traceability on specialized information systems and e-commerce platforms, and promoting non-cash payments.

By Ngoc Minh, Vietnam Business Forum