New plant varieties offer untapped potential

Although the number of certified new plant varieties every year has increased, many have not been put into large-scale production, according to experts.

The Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Science (VAAS) has reported that 161 new plant varieties, mostly rice strains, were certified by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) in 2011 and 2012.

During this period, the Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute also provided 27 rice varieties certified by MARD.

The institute has had 132 rice varieties certified and put into production so far, according to the institute head, Le Van Banh.

Nguyen Van Bo, VAAS director, said most plant varieties that are cultivated on a total area of more than 50,000ha were certified five to 10 years ago.

Most vegetables, cashew, pepper and soybean varieties that are now being cultivated were certified more than 10 years ago, he said.

Because there is no key plant variety for individual regions, agricultural production has not been equal in quality and has had low competitiveness and brought low prices, he added.

MARD Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh said the quality of plant varieties must be improved to increase prices.

Institutes and government agencies should create rice varieties with high yield as well, he said.

Mai Xuan Trieu, Head of the Corn Research Institute, however, noted that the quality of our new “corn varieties is not lower than corn varieties of the US and some countries.”

The unstable output of the corn varieties occurred because of improper implementation of tending, irrigating, and fertilising.

To increase the country’s corn output by one tonne per hectare under the Government’s requirements, cultivation processes must be improved.

MARD plans to develop groups of plant varieties and advanced farming technologies for each region, and those that will adapt to climate change and be environmentally sustainable.

The country exported US$27.5 billion of agricultural produce last year. Of that figure, plant produce accounted for 60 percent, according to MARD.

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