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MARD bolsters biotechnology in plan for aquaculture industry

VIET NAM - The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has approved a plan to increase the use of bio-technology to boost the aquaculture industry.

Applying biotechnology in the production of animal food at the Cuu Dung enterprise in Giao Thuy District, Nam Dinh Province.

The plan calls for qualitative and quantitative improvements in farming, disease treatment, aquatic feeds and processing to ensure the fisheries sector’s production will increase by 30 per cent over the next year.

A major objective is to set up a network of small- and medium-sized bio-technology enterprises in all fields of aquatic product farming and processing.

These businesses would supply large aquatic product farming establishments with high-quality breeds that are free from diseases and suitable to the ecology of their localities.

The ministry will promote research on ways to make the domestic fishery sector’s bio-technology meet standards comparable to those of advanced countries in Southeast Asia.

The plan includes measures to assist enterprises in the transfer of farming bio-technology, renewal of equipment and personnel training.

Dr Duong Hoa Xo, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Bio-technology Centre, said that the application of bio-technology would boost the domestic fisheries industry, one of the countrys key economic sectors.

"Viet Nam has the capacity to develop a strong aquaculture industry, but there are obstacles to overcome," Xo said.

In 2005, the country had about 960,000 hectares of aquaculture, of which 600,000ha were used for raising various species of shrimps. The fisheries industry harvested a total 1.44 million tonnes, including 320,000 tonnes of shrimps.

The demand for feed for fish and shrimps is between 1.3 and 1.5 million tonnes per year, but domestic producers can supply only 40 per cent of that amount. In addition, many epidemic diseases attack aquatic product farming fields, resulting in great losses for farmers.

In particular, shrimp farmers nationwide suffer production loses of 350,000 tonnes, the equivalent of US$1.7 billion a year due to diseases caused by viruses.

The agriculture ministry should focus on developing bio-technology in the Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta since the region is leading the country in aquaculture farming, Xo said.

To ensure the effectiveness of bio-technology application in the delta, Xo said, close cooperation should be established among bio-technology research agencies such as the Mekong Rice Research Institute, the Can Tho and An Giang universities, the Southern Fruits Research Institute and HCMC-based bio-technology research agencies.

Provinces should have offices that specialise in transferring bio-technology achievements to local fish farming establishments, he said.