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Hi-tech farms offer a vision of the future, today

Lai Duc Luu (second left) talks with an Israeli expert on site at the company’s Tam ​Dao farm (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - No longer a new or luxurious concept, hi-tech and high-quality agricultural products are now a must for modern Vietnamese consumers.

Many hi-tech agricultural projects have been launched across the nation, most involving technology transfer from more advanced economies looking to tap demand generated by higher living standards.

A notable one among these is implemented by VinEco Agricultural Investment, Development and Productions LLC. (VinEco), a member of Vingroup Joint Stock Company (Vingroup). It is the current supplier for Vingroup’s retail chain Vinmart and its outlets, stocking their shelves every day with a variety of fresh produce.

Since early 2015, the company has been at the frontline of Vietnam’s hi-tech, large-scale, certified agricultural production, with focus on clean, standardised crops using technology from Israel, Japan and other developed countries. They now operate a total of 14 farms in different regions in the country, five of them in the northern provinces.

Lai Duc Luu, Production Manager at VinEco Tam Dao Farm in Vinh Phuc province, talked about the positive effects that hi-tech farming had on agricultural production and marketing in the country, and how consumers responded.

Luu said that their production process was scientifically planned and implemented in strict compliance with national and global standards, starting from research to seeds selection, irrigation, to harvest, storage and final distribution. The technology had been obtained from Israeli company Teshuva Agricultural Projects (TAP).

The entire farm spans across acres of open fields, greenhouses, post harvest factories and cold-storage areas using computerised automatic technologies from beginning to end.

Attention is paid to different regions’ topographical and geological conditions to ensure the final products’ qualification.

At the VinEco farm, automation and technological control begin at the planting stage. On an automated belt, seeds are planted in specially-made foam boxes, stuffed with bedding materials, including compressed minerals, sawdust, rice bran and husk, before being placed in incubation chambers with tight temperature, humidity and light controls for less than 24 hours.

Foam boxes will then be placed in greenhouses for the seedlings to mature growth, or to become a variety of sprouts, a favourite among VinEco customers at the moment.

Inside its greenhouses, the farm employs a drip and sprinkler irrigation system, transferred in whole from Israel by the company Netafim. Luu described this irrigation system as “an advanced automatic technique for slowly and regularly dripping water onto the soil, from a system of small diameter plastic pipes fitted with outlets called emitters or drippers”.

This advanced irrigation method relies on a network of sprinklers spraying water over the greenhouse crops with high pressure pumps through small nozzles, saving up to 30 to 50 percent of water compared to traditional furrow irrigation, cutting down 90 percent of manual labour.

Not only does the new greenhouse irrigation system ensure a balanced, distributed water flow to each individual plant’s roots, it also provides an ideal level of moisture and air circulation for the vegetables, Luu said. The process is fully computerised using motion sensors that require minimum manual control.

Besides the drip irrigation, a fertigation system is also applied to directly provide crops with the precise amount of fertiliser needed at different growth stages, thus optimising crop growth through strict control of nutrient supply.

These advanced technological systems supposedly simulate the best conditions to maximise crop yield and quality while minimising the amount of care, water and fertiliser used, according to Pham Van Hoi, supervisor of the farm’s greenhouses.

Hoi explained that the new farming method of exposing the sprouts to sunlight in the greenhouse environment, instead of growing them in the shade like before, had been a great improvement. The presence of UV light helps reduce harmful fungi on the leave surface, ensuring clean and off-the-stem edible greens.

Luu said the new production methods helped produce much higher quality products and significantly increasing consumption. At the moment, productivity on his farm had increased to a minimum of ten and a maximum of fifteen tonnes of vegetables per day, depending on the seasons, from two to five tonnes worth since the first batch in late 2015.

The automatic process does not stop at the monitored greenhouses, but extends to the harvesting and packaging stages as well. Once the vegetables are mature, they are manually taken to a warehouse where a cutting machine churns out batches of greens on to metal trays in seconds.

The freshly cut vegetables will then be put into plastic boxes with specific QR codes printed on the labels, allowing consumers to scan them and trace their place of origin, i.e. VinEco’s farm. Afterward, these boxes are shipped directly to Vinmart stores and their smaller counterparts, Vinmart , within hours of harvesting to guarantee freshness and quality.

Thanks to these modern production methods, a huge selection of sprout, leafy and root vegetables are readily available for purchase at Vingroup’s retail outlets. The positive response from consumers over the last two years has prompted the firm to expand its farms and increased production since its launch in 2015.

Luu said as VinEco increases its farming area and number of greenhouses, it will also expand its focus towards exporting its best-selling sprouts.

Avner Shohet, CEO of TAP, told that since the completion of its first greenhouse for VinEco’s Tam Dao Farm, there has been growing demand for the clean and hi-tech products among both end consumers and high end restaurants.

“Vietnam is essentially agrarian but unlike other East Asian countries it maintains stringent quality standards which also apply to its agricultural production. I think that the key point for the development of hi-tech agriculture in Vietnam is training. It is very important to train farmers to adapt advanced technology. It is very important to teach and train them in post-harvest process, food safety and sustainability,” said Shohet.

More and more farmers and enterprises are adopting Vietnamese Good Agriculture Practice (VietGAP) standards set by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

A significant part of domestic agricultural production is now monitored based on several criteria including food safety, environmental protection, labour welfare and product quality.

Under the Government’s Decision 176/QĐ-TTg, by 2020, Vietnam will be home to 200 hi-tech agricultural businesses and 10 hi-tech agricultural zones, and the sector will register an annual growth rate of over 3.5 percent.

Thus far, the Government’s vision of hi-tech agriculture as a breakthrough solution for ensuring food security, boosting exports and sustainable development seems well founded.-VNA

Vietnamplus, Oct 2017

 

VIETNAM ASSOCIATION OF TESTING LABORATORIES - VINALAB
-------------------

 “Ensuring food safety for restaurants & hotels”

 Thursday, 29th November 2018

Time: 8h30 - 16h30  

Venue: Seminar Room

 Time  Topic Speaker
8h30 - 9h15
Registation
9h15 - 9h30
Opening speech
Mr. Nguyen Huu Dung
CEO VinaCert Certification and Inspection Joint Stock Company
General Secretary VINALAB
9h30 - 10h00 Paper 1: Definition of food to Food management Mr. Nguyen Huu Dung
CEO Vina Cert Certification and Inspection Joint Stock Company
General Secretary VINALAB
10h00 - 10h30 Paper 2: From farm to table - Food safety solution for hotel, restaurant Prof. Dr. Phan Thi Kim
President of Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations
10h30 -  11h00 Paper 3: Draft criteria for restaurant and hotel classification Mr. Pham Ngoc Tran
Former Deputy General Director of Ministry of Science and Technology
Directorate For Standarts, Metrology and Quality 
11h30 End of Conference  
13h00 - 13h30
Registation  
13h30 - 14h00 Opening speech Mr. Nguyen Huu Dung
CEO VinaCert Certification and Inspection Joint Stock Company
General Secretary VINALAB
14h00 - 15h00 Paper 1: The role of GS1 bar code, ensuring food safety in hotels MSc. Phan Hong Nga
Officer
Vietnam Quality Standards Institute 
15h00 - 16h00 Paper 2: Management of imported food: Opportunities and Challenges Dr. Nguyen Van Dung
Department of Food Safety - MOH
16h00 - 16h30 Paper 3: Organic agriculture products: Challenges in certification MSc. Pham Xuan Tuyen
Inspector of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
16h30 End of Conference  

For further assistance, please contact Mr. Linh at [email protected] or +84 932 689 895

5 hottest destinations to travel to in 2019

From cultural capitals to beach towns, these are the top trending travel hotspots.

Travel is trending.

On Wednesday, travel search engine KAYAK released its list of the top trending destinations — those places where flight searches have jumped the most year-over-year. And on the list, you’ll find everything from culinary and cultural capitals to gorgeous beachfront hotspots.

Among the big trends KAYAK is seeing: two cities in Mexico landed in the top 5, likely thanks to increased tourism efforts and a growing number of cultural festivals and celebrations, a spokesperson for KAYAK tells Marketwatch. And the Caribbean is making a comeback, following a rough hurricane season. Indeed, The Bahamas snagged the No. 4 spot on the list, with other spots like Turks and Caicos, Aruba and Jamaica also seeing an uptick in interest.

Unfortunately, you’ll likely pay a bit more for travel this year: According to the Global Business Travel Association, flight prices in 2019 will rise 2.6% and hotels 3.7%. Still there are plenty of ways to save if you hope to visit some of these incredible destinations.

Here are the top trending destinations, according to KAYAK

Mexico City, up 73% year-over-year

With its vibrant mix of culture, art, history, fashion and food — it’s got the second-highest number of museums in the world, behind Paris, more than 40,000 restaurants, and was named the Design Capital of the World this year — it’s easy to see why people are dying to visit Mexico City. Plus, it’s affordable: Median roundtrip airfare from the U.S. is very reasonable, ranging from a low of $278 in February to a high of $439 in December, and median hotel rates range from $115 per night in June to $147 in February.

Bali, up 65% year-over-year

Bali is the first and only spot ever to make it on KAYAK’s top trending destinations list three years in a row — and no wonder. Known as the Island of the Gods, Bali boasts world-class beaches with both sugar-white and black sand, spectacular palaces and temples and verdant jungles. Flights from the U.S. aren’t cheap — ranging from about $693 in November to more than $1,100 in June, July and December — but median hotel prices in all months come in at under $200 a night.

Ho Chi Minh City, up 49%

This big, bustling city in Vietnam is an enchanting mix of new and old: high-rise buildings and ancient temples, hot restaurants and traditional markets. Roundtrip flights range from just under $700 to upwards of $1,000, but hotels are very reasonable, hovering at around $100 to $120 a night. Many use Ho Chi Minh City as a jumping off point for exploring the rest of Vietnam, whether it’s a bike trip through the countryside or a lazy trip to the beach.

The Bahamas, up 45%

Though flights can be pricey — ranging from roughly $400 to $500 round-trip — those sugar-sand beaches, crystal blue waters and activities like snorkeling and deep-sea fishing have long made the Bahamas a hotspot for tourists. It’s trending once again as the Caribbean recovers from a rough tourist season. But in addition to a pricey flight, expect to pay somewhere between $300 to upwards of $500 a night for a hotel room.

Guadalajara, up 43%

Hip art galleries, modern architecture, unique cultural experiences and world-class cuisine and tequila are just some of the many draws to this large city in Mexico. Affordability is another: You can often get there for under $300 roundtrip, and hotels in most months are under $300 a night.

Other spots making the top 10 (in this order) include Lisbon, Paris, Rome, Maui and Munich. Hawaii’s increasing popularity may be due to the addition of more flight routes from the East Coast. These European cities may be benefiting from a similar trend, as new flight routes and low cost carriers are driving down prices and making these spots more accessible. Lisbon in particular “has seen a flurry of new flight routes added within the last year from major cities including Washington D.C., Chicago and Boston to name a few,” a spokesperson for KAYAK told MarketWatch.

By

CATEY HILL - Market Watch