Viet Nam's fishery sector plays a vital role in the economy. Together, aquaculture and capture fishing account for almost 5% of the national gross domestic product (GDP), and directly or indirectly provide income to 8.5 million people, or nearly 10% of the total population. Viet Nam's vibrant aquaculture sector plays an important role in filling the gap between global seafood demand and the sustainable limits of capture fishing. The shrimp aquaculture sub-sector is a particularly critical pillar of the seafood industry; it represents the second-largest share of national aquatic exports, making Viet Nam the third largest shrimp exporter globally. The brackish waters of Viet Nam's Mekong Delta host the vast majority of the nation's shrimp aquaculture, accounting for 84% of total production.
Despite a drop in global sales of shrimp resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, the trend toward increasing demand remains strong. Growth in Viet Nam's shrimp aquaculture sector is limited by challenges including disease outbreaks, fragmented and weak value chains, production-induced environmental impacts, food safety issues, and a lack of traceability and quality control. If the Vietnamese shrimp industry can overcome these hurdles in cost-efficient ways, it has the opportunity to position itself as a cost-competitive and high-quality player on the international stage.
Against this backdrop, digital tools offer a unique opportunity to spur sustainable economic growth and development within the agriculture and aquaculture sector. They have the potential to enhance stakeholders' livelihoods by decreasing transaction costs, enabling key legal processes, improving access and deployment of financial services, providing decision support, fostering healthy market competition, and ensuring effective and sustainable use of resources.
Aquaculture in particular can benefit from digital agriculture solutions that capitalise on automation, big data and analytics, and expanding access to information and resources, to increase seafood production while reducing the cost and environmental footprint of operations. The strength of digital infrastructure in Viet Nam offers great potential for the integration of digital tools into Vietnamese agriculture, and in particular the shrimp sub-sector.