This was affirmed in a new strategy for boosting agricultural food security and eco-efficiency in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, launched in Hanoi on Tuesday by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).
Speaking at the launch ceremony, CIAT Director General Dr Ruben Echeverria, said that agriculture was important in addressing the challenges of today's world, including population growth, rapid urbanisation, soil degradation and climate change.
"Making agriculture more eco-efficient is essential to ensure that people in rural and urban areas have access to high-quality, nutritious food for a balanced diet, as well as just enough calories while preserving the environment and nurturing economic growth," he said.
The new strategy will be carried out during the 2014-2020 period, focusing on enhancing the effectiveness of research on technology development and improved varieties of cassava and cassava cultivation, improving forage for livestock and achieving sustainable soil management towards eco-efficiency.
Cassava is the third most important food crop in the tropics after rice and maize, and CIAT-related varieties bred by local partner institutes are now grown on more than 50 per cent of the cassava area across the region.
When managed properly, cassava is a highly resource-efficient, climate-smart crop, with vast income generation potential for farmers, as a raw material for manufacturing and pharmaceutical products, including starch, bio-fuels and other products.
In Vietnam, exports from cassava and its products generated over US$1.1 billion last year.
Another focus of CIAT's strategy is improved forage for livestock, which has the potential to reduce the country's reliance on imported feed stock.
Appropriate management of tropical forage in turn can stabilise and restore degraded lands, enhance ecosystem services, boost milk and meat production and mitigate impacts of climate change through nitrogen-fixing legumes.
Affirming the goal of ensuring eco-efficiency as a key principle in CIAT's strategy, it is also extended to achieving effective impacts on land management and sustainable use and management of natural resources and soil nutrients, as well as connecting farmers with markets to improve the efficiency of the value chain and increase resilience to climate change.
With experience of working with CIAT since 1999, Dr Nguyen Van Bo, director of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS) said that Vietnam is currently lacking research and evaluation on soil quality and cassava cultivation.
CIAT's strategy, with the mission to reduce hunger and poverty, and improve human nutrition in the tropics through research to increase the eco-efficiency of agriculture, is highly relevant to Vietnam, he said.
Source: Bernama | 29 May 2014