A worker at the Hai Duong science and technology’s centre examines several orchids
The Ministry of Science and Technology says 2005 will be an important year for Viet Nam’s scientific and technological advancement, calling it a cornerstone period for the country’s global integration.
This rapid scientific advancement also represents a marked return to the days before the collapse of the former Soviet block, when Vietnamese academic and research efforts were heavily supported by Eastern Europe. Now, the open door policy and strengthened multi-lateral ties are once again giving Viet Nam access to technological aid, grants and international scientific co-operation.
According to the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Department of Foreign Relations, Viet Nam has maintained its traditional ties with Russia and other Eastern European countries while also seeking relationships with the United States and countries in Latin America and Africa.
This co-operation has been very effective towards national modernisation.
Research in applied sciences and technology have created new, high-value products for both the domestic and foreign markets.
In the fisheries sector, science and technology have been introduced widely. The ministry has established strict standards and regulations governing the use of preservatives in fresh, frozen and dried foodstuffs.
In addition, higher quality farm products are important for competing on the domestic and overseas markets. Recognising this need, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development guides farmers to choose which plants to cultivate and which animals to breed. Last year, 115 new plant species were developed while many poultry breeds were cross-bred.
Improved post-harvest technology has also benefited farmers. In 2004, Viet Nam exported 60,000kg of fresh taro to Europe, opening a new door for Viet Nam’s taro growers. Advanced post harvest technology last year also helped farmers save 10 per cent of the product normally lost during the four months of preservation.
Nevertheless, post-harvest technology is still in its germinal stage and will require improvements. The lack of access to agricultural technology plays a role in the "bumper crop but low price" phenomenon at harvest time for litchi, longans, rambutan and durians. While farmers are able to produce a large quantity of these fruits, the lack of packaging and transportation technology means surplus products are not able to find their way to foreign markets.
Doctor Hoang Ngoc Tuan, director of the Hai Phong Department of Science and Technology, said the city has provided financial support and information to the research and development efforts of private enterprises. His department allocates VND1 billion (US$65,000) annually to fund quality management systems for businesses. During the last two years, the city spent VND3 billion ($195,000) to help establish a science and technology database for enterprises.
But officials from the Ministry of Fisheries, a sector which has seen a great deal of success in recent years through the application of science and technology, have complained about the theoretical focus of Vietnamese technological innovation. The Ministry of Science and Technology also recognised the weaknesses of Vietnamese staff and agreed to focus more on strengthening their human resources.
The ministry encourages hiring foreign experts to work in Viet Nam in those areas where Vietnamese scientists may lack experience or expertise. It also helps Vietnamese scientists and researchers work abroad under civil contracts signed with foreign partners.
There are currently about three million overseas Vietnamese living and working in many countries, particularly in the United States, France, Australia and Canada. These overseas Vietnamese intellectuals constitute a strong bridge for Viet Nam’s integration into the global intellectual community.
VNS - (27/01/2005)