Vietnamese agro-scientists sell seeds to earn a living

VietNamNet Bridge – Most research institutes and agronomists have unwillingly become “marketing experts” or “seed sellers” to earn money to live and conduct scientific research.

Vietnam, genetic sources

Dr. Do Nang Vinh, chair of the Scientific Council of the Agricultural Genetic Institute, while affirming that agro-scientists have to take on different kinds of jobs, from producers to sellers, noted that this paradox only exists in Vietnam.

“Such a thing cannot be seen elsewhere in the world. In Vietnam, scientists can do everything, from creating new varieties, introducing the varieties to farmers, organizing trial production, to building up the large-scale production models and selling seeds,” Vinh noted.

“They have to do all kinds of jobs to make money,” he added.

In developed countries, this is undertaken by seed firms, while research institutes are only in charge of inventions and providing materials and genetic sources.

The scientists in these countries own the copyright on their inventions. Seed firms have to pay royalties to them to have the right to exploit the inventions for commercial development.

However, Vietnamese scientists cannot follow such a procedure.

“If you give the new varieties to others, your inventions will be in vain,” he said.

“If so, you will not have any other source of income, except the modest salary paid by the State,” he explained, adding that creating seeds and selling seeds is the major source of income of many generations of scientists.

A lecturer at the Hanoi Agriculture University noted that the research institutes’ achievements are “measured” by the number of new varieties created.

In most research projects, scientists are required to create new varieties, and they only have three to five years to do that. Meanwhile, Vietnam now seriously lacks scientific research works.

“Scientists are requested to create new varieties with their specific characteristics,” the lecturer said. “Meanwhile, genes and hereditary characteristics have been ignored. This explains why Vietnam can create many varieties, but cannot make any breakthrough.”

Vinh, in an interview given to Dat Viet newspaper recently, noted that when scientists have to spend time to advertise their inventions and sell products, they would not have time and energy to create.

He warned that the unreasonable pay for scientists had led to lower quality of scientists. The low pay does not allow research institutes to attract talent.

Professor Nguyen Van Hieu has said in the past that he fears that Vietnamese scientists may be “issueless”.

A report shows that rice yield in Vietnam has increased by 95 kilos per hectare, and rice varieties make up 30 percent of the increase. Thus, Vietnamese scientists created $66 million from new rice varieties alone.

Dat Viet

Vietnam, genetic sources