Diedrah Kelly, executive director of Canada’s new Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office (IPAAO), talked with Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Hằng about the potential for agricultural cooperation between Canada and Việt Nam in the future on the occasion of her visit to Việt Nam on March 26.

Could you please give us an overview of the agricultural trading relation between Việt Nam and Canada over the past time?

  • Việt Nam and Canada have a strong and complementary trading relationship in agriculture, Agri-food and Seafood, and we hope to be able to build upon that. You are likely aware that Canada has a trade deficit with Việt Nam in these areas. Việt Nam sells about two times more to Canada than Canada sells to Việt Nam. Specifically, I can tell you the numbers that last year, Canada sold CAD421 million in agri-food and seafood to Việt Nam and we imported CAD703 million worth of agri-food, fish and seafood from Việt Nam.
  • In terms of the types of products that we sell, wheat is one of them because Canada has products that do not grow in Việt Nam. Canadian wheat is then used in flour for baking, for flours and for noodles. We also export soy, and we export berries, such as frozen berries, strawberries, blue berries, cherries, also products that do not grow in Canada, like coconuts and coconut products. We import seafood, we import coffee. So, it is very much a complementary type of trading relationship. We have things that can grow in Canada but cannot grow in Việt Nam and vice versa. That way we can help meet the changing needs of our respective populations.
  • We are seeing demographics changing. Our citizens are becoming more worldly. They want to try different types of foods. They are much more knowledgeable. They want to ensure that they have the highest nutritional value and that they can meet growing international palates. So by being able to have this types of two-way trade, it means that both of our populations can benefit and have this healthy safe, nutritious food.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which officially took effect in 2019, has boosted agricultural trade between Việt Nam and Canada. Agricultural export turnover between the two countries has reached over CAD1.12 billion (US$843 million). What is the potential for further agricultural cooperation?

  • I think there is tremendous potential for agricultural cooperation between Việt Nam and Canada in a number of areas. I think we can continue to increase our two-way trade and continue to look at bringing in greater volumes of products from Canada and Việt Nam in our respective countries, introducing new products.
  • We can also look at new areas like genetics, for example. One positive development that I will share with you that illustrates the benefits of using genetics is that recently, Việt Nam allowed Canadian seed potatoes to be introduced. When Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay was visiting the Philippines recently, we met with farmers, who also used seed potatoes from Canada.
  • And what we discovered, these farmers who are small plot farmers, many of whom were indigenous and living in rural areas, once they started using the Canadian seed potatoes, they found that their yields increased tenfold. So that’s a significant increase in yield production. And what does that mean? If they are going ten times more potatoes, that means they are selling ten times more and they are putting more money into their pockets.
  • So not only is it the quality but there is a direct benefit to the farmers. It means that there is more food being sold into the local markets, which is also contributing to ensuring food security. So we could also see that in other areas like livestock, if we would look at using Canadian genetics, for example, towards increasing local livestock production. There is also scientific exchanges and research collaboration that could take place. We can look at using Canadian machinery and innovative solutions to help contributing to sustainable farming goals in Việt Nam. One example is the zero tillage technique that is used in Canada.

What are the priority policies of the Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office in the coming period and how will they create opportunities to enhance cooperation in improving agricultural supply chains, enhancing biodiversity, circular agriculture and building a green and sustainable future?

  • In terms of the office, there is really two priorities. One is to increase collaboration on the regulatory side, to increase the level of awareness of Canada’s food safety and food inspection practices in Canada, to make sure that our own food supply is safe and reliable and how we send Canadian agricultural products abroad. We know they are the best quality and that they are safe because that is a concern for populations everywhere. So raising awareness, having greater levels of exchange to talk about our science based approach and regulatory frameworks, that can be done through technical sessions and capacity building, it can be done through study tours, it can be done through various technical conversations.
  • Increasing awareness is increasing scientific collaboration and regulatory exchanges. We can also share our knowledge and experience on sustainable farming practices. In Canada, approximately 10 per cent of all of our greenhouse emissions are from crop and livestock production. Even though Canada’s own domestic agricultural outputs have increased significant over the years, the level of greenhouse gas emissions has only very marginally increased. That is because we have been experimenting in introducing innovative practices in Canada, which I think we would be happy to share our knowledge about. That is on areas like reduced tillage that we discussed earlier, cover cropping, rotational grazing, all of which are contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestrating carbon. These are very sustainable practices that I think can be applied in the world over and in various scalable situations.
  • And then the other priority as I mentioned, is on hoping to increase mutually beneficial trade, complementary trade. And I think there is a lot of potential. So not only to increase areas where we are already trading, but in new areas. For example, pet food. You know, people treat their pets like family. Not only are they interested in feeding their family members better, but they also want to feed their pets better food as well. And Canada is a producer of pet food. That is an example of new types of trade we can explore. — VNS

In recent years, Vietnam and Canada have focused on cooperation in agriculture, contributing to world food security and ensuring the food supply chain. The Canadian government has sponsored the projects Food Safety for Development and Smart Coastal Community Adapting to Climate Change in Vietnam, contributing to the development of safe and sustainable agricultural production. In addition, Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy opens up opportunities for Vietnam to restore the agricultural supply chain, improve biodiversity, and develop sustainable, circular agriculture.


130 Nguyen Cong Tru Street, W Nguyen Thai Binh, Dist 1, HCMc

Tax No.: 0317047046

[email protected]

+84 866 047 046

Service Request

Enter your email address here always to be updated. We promise not to spam!