Invaluable genetic assets
At the annual conference on evaluation of science and technology in gene bank for the 2001-2013 period and orientations until 2020 held on December 3, Ministry of Science and Technology emphasized genetic resources as national invaluable asset and one of the important advantages of creating economic competitiveness based on biology in the future.
Over the past decade, the authorities of agricultural genetic resource conservation have collected genetic resources of nearly 9,000 agricultural plants; 60 forest trees; 500 medicinal plants; 55 animal breeds; 75 aqua-breeds; and nearly 2,800 microorganisms.
These genetic resources have contributed greatly to the creation and selection of new varieties, and helped revitalize local specialty varieties for higher yield and quality. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, within the last five years it recognized 102 varieties of rice, 27 varieties of maize, 25 varieties of beans, 43 varieties of industrial perennial plants, 4 new breeds of pig, and 12 chicken lines. Most of the new varieties were created from the selected genetic resources under conservation.
For example, the specialty rice variety of Khau Mang is being grown in Dong Van District, Ha Giang Province, giving the average yield of 55 tonnes per ha and able to offer farmers an average revenue of VND50 million per ha. With approximately 200 hectares of rice specialties farmed, farmers there may earn incomes of about VND10 billion.
Vietnam is one of the nations soon promulgating policy and legal framework for the conservation and use of genetic resources in Southeast Asia. In 1987, a genetic conservation program was launched by the State Committee on Science and Technology (which is now the Ministry of Science and Technology). Currently, Vietnam has enacted legal framework for fully-related conservation and utilization of genetic resources of plants, animals and microorganisms.
The investment in scientific and technological activities and funding for the gene bank also increased significantly in recent years: about VND2-5 billion per year before 2000; VND15 billion for the 2001 – 2009 period; VND20 billion for 2010 – 2011 period; VND34.5 billion in 2012; and VND35.2 billion in 2013.
To date, Vietnam has 30 national parks, 60 nature reserves, 38 protected landscape areas, and 3 marine protected areas, covering about 90 percent of the species in the Vietnam’s Red Book. However, the diversity of national biological resources is under serious threat due to indiscriminate exploitation, climate change, sea level rises, and population increase accompanied by the process of urbanization.
Experts agreed that it was time to build a new program for the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources and submit it to the Prime Minister for approval in order to promote scientific and technological activities in gene bank, and contribute to sustainable conservation and exploitation of biological resources.
Director of Ministry of Health’s Department of Science and Training Prof. Dr. Nguyen Cong Khan emphasized that the State should have the right policies for long-term land use for conservation organizations; and integrate genetic resources conservation with agricultural and rural development policies./.
By Quynh Nga