Vietnam's agriculture sector is quickly becoming the destination of choice for Japanese investors, especially high-tech agriculture.
A number of business delegations from Japan have come to Vietnam seeking investment opportunities in the agricultural sector, following a visit by Japan’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to Vietnam on January 21. Most recent was a delegation from the Wakayama Prefecture Government on March 12, led by Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka, which included eight enterprises, primarily in agriculture but also in electronics, manufacturing and processing, and education tourism.
Speaking at a conference held to introduce Wakayama Prefecture, attended by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh, representatives from the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam, the eight Japanese enterprises in the delegation, and Vietnamese enterprises from around the country, Mr. Nisaka said that Vietnam’s agriculture sector is developing more strongly than that of many other countries in ASEAN. The country has a favorable geographical location that connects major consumer markets such as ASEAN and China, which is important to Japanese investors. “Demand for high-tech agricultural development in Vietnam is also on the increase,” he said. “This is why many Japanese enterprises have increased their investment in Vietnam’s agriculture sector.”
He also emphasized that the aim of the visit is not only to seek investment opportunities but also to exchange experience as well as technologies in cultivation and aquaculture.
The latest report from the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment shows that in the first two months of this year Japanese companies had invested in 25 new projects and 17 others had increased their capital, for a total of nearly $170 million. Vietnam’s agriculture saw many Japanese enterprises arriving to seek opportunities last year, such as Kubota Vietnam and the Yanmar Agricultural Machinery Vietnam Co.
Japan is one of the leading investors in Vietnam. According to Mr. Watanabe Kohei, Chairman of the Mekong-Japan Business Committee under the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in recent years Japanese investments in Vietnam have increased remarkably. Notably, Ho Chi Minh City accounts for half, and in the future the City and the Mekong Delta will be key locations for investment, especially in high-tech agriculture.
Vietnam has a good reputation for its rice production, which has attracted much interest from Japanese enterprises. At the conference introducing Wakayama Prefecture, VET spoke with Dr. Mayu Aizawa, an agriculture engineer with the Tsuno Food Industrial Co., the oldest rice bran oil production company in Japan, about its plan to build a rice bran oil plant in Vietnam.
Can you tell us more about the Tsuno project?
As we are still in the planning stage we cannot provide any specific information as yet. However, we are considering the Mekong Delta for the construction of the plant, in the next two years.
Why is Tsuno planning to build a rice bran oil plant in Vietnam?
While Japan’s rice production is falling, Vietnam’s has developed strongly. Therefore, Vietnam has a huge amount of rice bran. Knowing that the Vietnamese Government is making efforts to support enterprises that contribute to the development of the agricultural processing industry as part of the country’s industrialization strategy, our company wants to contribute to the development of Vietnam's agriculture, to help improve the incomes of farmers by effectively utilizing rice bran. By effectively using defatted rice bran, which is a product of rice bran oil extraction, as animal feed, we aim to contribute to the development of the aquaculture and livestock industry, which are major industries in the Mekong Delta.
Will Tsuno invest in other fields?
Using rice bran as raw materials, our company has been conducting research and development for products in different fields, such as food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. We are currently doing businesses with a number of companies in Vietnam and we are planning to expand our sales channels with a variety of other products. We are conducting market research here in Vietnam. Rice is an important agricultural product in both Japan and Vietnam, and we hope that expanding its effective use will become one of the bridges between the two countries.