Viet Nam plans to use remote sensing technology to boost production of key crops, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said at a conference last week.
Remote sensing, which involves collecting and analysing satellite data, can indicate the impacts of climate change such as floods, landslides and alluvium deposits along riverbanks and coasts – helping the agriculture industry adjust to the changing landscape.
"As one of the countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, natural disaster forecasting and management play an important role in mitigating losses," Doanh said.
Over the last two years, the agriculture ministry used data and images provided by European satellites to improve agriculture and forest management. (Viet Nam's satellites will begin providing data for commercial and economic purposes in 2017.) Satellite images were used to develop a land-use map in 11 provinces in the Hong (Red) River Delta; maps also shed light onto the situation of forests across the country and led to the development of a forest fire warning system.
Viet Nam's agriculture ministry and Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation applied remote sensing technology to rice production in northern Nam Dinh Province and southern Soc Trang Province. Using satellite images to analyse rice production areas, researchers were able to forecast productivity with over 90 per cent accuracy.
The project will be expanded to other areas including water and forest resources and major crops like coffee and rubber in the Red River Delta and Mekong River Delta.
A shortage of qualified staff and equipment was a major challenge for Viet Nam when it came to applying remote sensing technology in agriculture, said Do Xuan Lan, an official from the ministry's department of Science, Technology and Environment. This was compounded by the fact that many ministries unknowingly bought the same satellite images, thus wasting already scant financial resources. — VNS