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Phat made a speech as a special guest at the invitation of US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a recent side event for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) with participants from the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture.
Sharing Vietnam’s agriculture experience in coping with climate change, Minister Phat said that in regards to rice production, the country has encouraged farmers to apply advanced techniques through System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which helps reduce 30% of fertilisers and pesticides, increases yields by 10-20% and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.
For coffee production, in collaboration with Nestle and other partners, technical advances in coffee cultivation have been recommended to farmers. The new technology helps save 30% of water use compared with traditional farming practices, while productivity has been increased by 10%, earnings by 14% and greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 50%.
In regards to livestock, the government has supported people to build biogas cellars for use in agricultural activities, thereby significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For the forestry sector, with international support, Vietnam has made considerable efforts in afforestation and forest protection. Forest cover has increased from under 30% in early 1990s to 40.7% in 2015.
To replicate effective models above, the minister emphasised the need for a strong commitment of the government and stakeholders, including individuals, businesses, and scientists, as well as for policies to encourage and support people and businesses to actively participate in the process, while providing technical assistance and financing for the poor, in addition to sharing experiences and enhancing transfer of technology and international co-operation in the field.
Phat also affirmed that agricultural activities can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly the deployment of smart agricultural models will help to achieve multiple benefits, including increased productivity and increased income for farmers; enhancing resilience and capacity in coping with the impacts of climate change for food production systems; and reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, there should be encouragement and support for farmers so that they can actively participate and maximize the benefits of the process.
In regards to the impact of climate change in terms of consumption, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that the food production sector of the US has a vast cropland area and high productivity and is best supported by the synchronous transport system and the economic development. However, climate change has a significant impact, changing customer demands for export products as well as the selling prices.
In the last six years, global food security has been guaranteed, with the number of people not having access to enough food falling by 200 million, Vilsack said, adding that the challenge now is whether the process can be maintained and boosted in spite of the risks from climate change.
Therefore, participants at the conference suggested close co-operation between developed economies and developing countries to identify both the needs and risks in agricultural production, while applying advanced and appropriate technologies and techniques to enhance global food security in the context of climate change.