While the government pushes for the industry and service sectors to grow with the aim of becoming an “industrialised country” by 2020, agriculture remains an important sector in the economy in Vietnam. The agriculture sector contributes 18.1% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2014, surpassing US$30b in export revenue. However, the biggest challenge facing Vietnam’s agriculture is the fierce competition from other countries, whose products’ quality often exceeds that of Vietnamese products. 'Supercharging' agriculture in Vietnam with IoT technologies will unleash the vast market potential for Vietnamese produce by its productivity, quality, and market competitiveness.
“Smart agriculture” is still a relatively unknown concept in the Vietnamese rural areas. One application of smart agriculture is called “precision agriculture”, whereby most modern means of technology is used to optimise the yield per unit of farming land, thus achieve best quality, quantity and financial return. IoT-based systems are backed up by real-time data from sensors and big data analytics to provide farmers with additional information concerning all aspects of farming that may not be visible. This helps the farmers make better decisions, reduce waste and maximise efficiency.
In more developed economies like the United States, the Netherlands and Israel, smart technologies have been integrated into agricultural productions for years. However, integrating similar technologies in Vietnam faces various challenges. Firstly, most of the agricultural production in Vietnam is carried out by small-scale farmers who do not have the capital to invest in systems that can cost tens of thousand dollars. Secondly, there is a lack of awareness and understandings about IoT solutions for agriculture and their benefits. Farming is still widely considered as a manual-labour job, and farmers are willing to stick to the traditional ways of farming, which do not guarantee the products' quality, leading to low selling prices and the farmers being stuck in a vicious cycle.
However, smart agriculture has in fact been integrated in some farms in Vietnam, with promising results. Ms. Nguyen Thi Hue in Da Lat City, Lam Dong Province invested US$50,000 into her 7-hectare farm that integrates technologies that monitor and decide on factors such as amount of irrigation, fertiliser, temperature, to ensure the product's high quality. The automated solutions allow the farm to cut labour cost, stop using harmful chemical pesticides, reduce risk of diseases and maintain consistent output, bringing in a stellar profit of US$250,000 every year. In 2015, FPT - Vietnam’s leading technology corporation - collaborated with Japan’s Fujitsu to open Fujitsu-FPT Akisai Farm in Hanoi to implement Fujitsu’s Akisai Food and Agriculture Cloud and transfer the technology to its Vietnamese counterparts.
IoT technologies can help Vietnam’s agriculture improve the production efficiency, protect the farms against traditional obstacles like pests and weather fluctuations, and raise the product quality. It is important for the local governments and farmers to understand the benefits of IoT in the agriculture sector, connect with the suitable solution providers and invest in appropriate technologies to make Vietnam’s farms more productive, sustainable, and profitable.
IoT and Smart Agriculture will be discussed during the 11th edition of Asia IoT Business Platform, which will take place in Hanoi this November. For more information, drop me an email at email@example.com.