Startup innovation expected to drive growth in Ben Tre

Ben Tre Province is largely defined by its coconut cultivation industry, allowing farmers to escape poverty but not necessarily thrive, yet there is significant room for growth if innovation is introduced and startups are encouraged.

In fact, startup innovation is seen as one of the key drivers of Ben Tre Province’s socioeconomic development, Phan Van Mai, secretary of the province's Party Committee, stated at the launch ceremony of the Mekong Innovation Hub on November 16.

Speaking at the event, held within the framework of the Ben Tre Coconut Festival 2019, Mai noted that if the startup network is widened and innovation activities run smoothly, this will be one of the key drivers of the province’s economic growth.

“As such, the province has deployed a program to encourage startups and develop the startup community since the beginning of the 2015-2020 tenure,” he said, adding that Ben Tre Province will become home to 2,500 new firms by 2020.

The establishment and operation of the innovation hub is expected to support startups and drive up the development of small and medium enterprises in a systematic manner, according to Mai as the province's top leader.

“The hub also plays a role as the foundation for the comprehensive growth of the startup ecosystem in the province,” Mai remarked.

Apart from offering financial support to projects and providing startups with support in information, technology and management, the Mekong Innovation Hub, which was established by the Ben Tre Department of Science and Technology and Saigon Innovation Hub, acts as a bridge to help enterprises expand their consumption markets.

The coconut festival is taking place in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre to promote products made from this popular palm tree and honor coconut farmers and processors.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the province’s fifth coconut festival on November 16, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh pointed out that Ben Tre Province has 72,000 hectares of land under coconut cultivation and 200 households living on coconuts. The province is the country’s primary coconut growing region.

“Coconut growing and the coconut sector in Ben Tre Province play an important role in the province’s economic development,” he stressed.

Binh noted that over the past few years, coconut products have been diverse, but their value remained low, adding that coconuts only help farmers escape poverty but have yet to make them rich.

The province should enhance the connection between production and consumption, increase the income of laborers at coconut production plants and promote agricultural cooperation, Binh stated.

He expected the coconut industry to turn out new coconut products with high competitiveness on the domestic and global markets, contributing to driving growth in Ben Tre Province and the Mekong Delta region.

To achieve this, the senior government leader suggested Ben Tre Province conduct scientific research and focus on developing high-quality coconut seeds to adapt to climate change.

It is necessary to enhance promotion programs and expand coconut consumption markets, he said, adding that the province should intensify its efforts to increase the revenue from coconut exports tenfold in the next five or 10 years.

Earlier, Cao Van Trong, chairman of Ben Tre Province, remarked that the province had earned US$200 million from coconut exports each year.


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