Development of organic fertiliser key to Vietnam’s future agriculture

HANOI (Viet Nam News/ANN) – Vietnam has indentified greener growing products as the way forward.

Vietnam has identified organic agriculture as the way forward, and why the development and promotion of the product is key to achieving their goals.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong has said that Vietnamese agriculture must “tune in to the signals of the market, which is not solely the domestic market, but also the 180-country and seven-billion-people global market”.

One signal is the growing demand for environmentally friendly and organic production, which makes organic fertiliser “an inevitable trend”.

The current demands for fertiliser in Vietnam reached somewhere around 11 million tonnes a year, with as much as one tonne of fertiliser (mostly chemical varieties) being used on one hectare of farmland, nearly five times the average amount used 10 years ago.

According to the agriculture ministry (MARD), the efficiency rate is around 45-50 per cent, meaning only half of the fertiliser used helps the plants, the rest is wasted and has dangerous implications to the soil.

Despite the benefits of chemical fertiliser, long-term use not only deteriorates the quality of the soil but also the agricultural products themselves.

Chemical fertilisers work fast as nutrients (almost exclusively nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) are released almost immediately, while natural components-based fertilisers take time to reach to the plants but bring plenty more kinds of nutrients and minerals.

The arability of soil applied with organic fertilisers has also been shown to improve over time, as it retains the capacity to hold water and air, as well as fosters microbial activities.

The development of organic fertiliser would not just help better the quality of soil in the long-term, but also propel the growth of organic agriculture.

Farmers harvest rice grown with organic fertiliser in Vi Thanh Commune, Vi Thuy District of the Mekong Delta Province Hau Giang. – ANN

Production and use

Currently, according to MARD, Vietnam produces an average of 2.5 million tonnes of organic fertiliser a year — a tenth of its chemical fertiliser output (26.7 million tonnes) and 8.5 per cent of total fertiliser output.

However, the import figures show the trend of using organic fertiliser has risen in the last few years: Vietnam imported a total of 220,000 tonnes of organic fertiliser in 2017, twice the amount from 2016.

In 2017, 617 tonnes of microbial fertiliser were imported, up six times compared to 2015 and twice compared to 2016, while 117,000 tonnes of biological organic fertiliser were imported, up eight times compared to 2016. Last year also witnessed the first time Vietnam imported soil-improvement organic fertiliser products (105 tonnes).

The imports keep rising while the domestic potentials for organic fertiliser production remains largely untapped, as huge amounts of ‘by-product’ generated by our existing agriculture activities such as plant matters and manure are not fully used and could pose a serious environmental threat if left untreated.

Therefore, alongside app-lication, promotion of production is critical in the country’s grand scheme towards green agriculture.

Le Van Tri, chairman of the Vietnam Bio-fertiliser Association, said there must first be a series of factories that can produce microbial fertiliser commercially. Without a sustained supply of these essential ‘probiotics,’ any hope for promotion of organic fertiliser would not be possible.