Developing a sustainable potato production system

One of the world’s largest potato processing firms, the world’s leading fertilizer company and the world’s largest crop protection product company contracted Fresh Studio to develop a higher yielding, higher quality and more sustainable potato production protocol in Vietnam.

Fresh Studio joined with leading Dutch potato breeding companies, to select new and potentially suitable potato varieties. In close collaboration with its clients, Fresh Studio developed a variety of cultivation protocols. These new varieties and protocols were tested in random block-design trials during four different seasons. The tests were conducted at Fresh Studio’s own R&D farm in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

These trials resulted in the selection of two much higher yielding and higher quality potato varieties than the currently farmed standard. With these new varieties and improved cultivation protocols, yields were increased from 45% to 80%. Post-harvest and processing trials (fry tests) showed that the new varieties performed better than the current standard.

During our organized field days, hundreds of potato farmers were able to observe the difference between varieties, and related cultivation protocols. Fresh Studio is currently working closely with its clients to introduce these new varieties, conduct more potato trials all over Vietnam, as well as to develop a plan to train large numbers of farmers in new potato cultivation protocols.

Adding knowledge to the chain

Within the framework of the Vietnam Facility, The Netherland Ministry of Economic affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, contracted Fresh Studio.

Together with Applied Plant Research from Wageningen UR, Van Hall Larenstein of the Wageningen University, and Dalat University, Fresh Studio was contracted to manage and implement a project entitled: ‘Adding Knowledge to the Chain”.

This project aimed to find tailored practical solutions for a number of serious problems faced by the market oriented vegetable sector of the Dalat region in Vietnam.

These problems relate to productivity and profitability constraints in vegetable farming, irresponsible pesticide use, over-abundant fertilizer use, farmer safety and consumer food safety. The current vegetable sector in the Dalat region has limitations in current management skills, decision-making, and in finding innovative solutions to address modern market requirements (such as sustainable production methods, food safety and off-season production).

The project managed to establish a collaborative model between farmers, Fresh Studio, market players, Dalat University, agricultural policy makers, and others, which continuously applies innovative R&D, and to promote sustainable and profitable vegetable farming in the Dalat region of Vietnam.

Successfully developed innovations included lettuce production under rain shelters during the rainy season, and bell pepper production in local greenhouses on risky husk-based substrate.

Development of professional fresh fish chain

Since late 2010, the Fresh Studio aquaculture and fisheries team is working very hard for one of Fresh Studio’s clients to assist them in developing the first professional fresh fish chain of Vietnam.

While for exports the Vietnamese aquaculture sector just focuses on deep frozen export chains for pangasius and shrimp, this chain project focuses on the over 50 fish species which are popular in the domestic market.

The domestic chain is only fresh fish, which requires strict product quality control. During large fish farmer information sessions, widely covered by the Vietnamese tv and newspapers, the targets for the new fish sourcing system were presented. Hereafter an overwhelming number of farmers registered to join the program. Since then over 250 fish farmers have been trained in the required product specifications and good aquaculture production standard. Soon the first supply of fresh fish through a newly developed professional fresh fish processing facility will start.

Private label introduction for fresh products

Fresh Studio has successfully assisted one of the biggest fruit exporters of Vietnam in obtaining GLOBALG.A.P. certification for pomelo.

Our client is a fruit exporting company targeting both the Asian and the European market with a portfolio of Vietnamese fruits. With European retail channels requiring GLOBALG.A.P. our client requested our support for the implementation of the standard at a large number of Vietnamese contract farmers. Fresh Studio’s QA team first trained the QA staff and agronomists of the fruit company in the GLOBALG.A.P.  standard. Next Fresh Studio assisted the QA team and agronomists of the client in training the contracted farmers. Given that GLOBALG.A.P. is not yet common in Vietnam, the Fresh Studio team went to great lengths to make the multiple farmers understand the importance of the international quality standard.

Parallel to working with the farmers, Fresh Studio’s QA consultant assisted our client with the development of their internal quality management system (QMS). Although this QMS system had to be developed from scratch and it was a challenge to convince farmers to make the necessary investments like building adequate toilet and storage facilities to comply with the standard, after 6 months of hard work the fruit company passed the GLOBAL G.A.P.  audit.

The Netherlands, Vietnam enhance agricultural cooperation

HANOI – Dutch Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hans Hoogeveen together with representatives of prestigious corporations and companies in the high-tech agricultural sector, such as Greenport Holland, Incotec and Fresh Studio on the occasion of the visit to Vietnam said, “The Netherlands will actively support Vietnam in selecting and growing fruit and vegetables in greenhouse, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, lettuce, eggplant and kohlrabi.

In addition, the Netherlands will also help Vietnam apply advanced techniques in agricultural production in order to improve Vietnam’s fruit and vegetables.”

Dutch Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hans Hoogeveen also said that Vietnam had a diverse climate. Therefore, the cultivation of many different varieties of fruit and vegetables, especially high quality fruit-trees, such as oranges, tangerines, durians, pineapples, bananas, mango and dragon fruit would meet the demands of both domestic and foreign consumers. He also highly appreciated the efforts of Vietnam in the development of VietGAP-certified products and fruit-vegetable exports to the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

“Vietnam has implemented a number of cooperation projects with developed countries and international organizations, such as the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to research and develop new varieties of fruit and vegetables. However, cooperation between the Netherlands and Vietnam in the near future will help Vietnam access advanced agricultural production techniques in order to improve added value chain for Vietnamese fruit and vegetables,” Hans Hoogeveen said.

Exchanging genetic resources for use in the breeding process; supporting preservation and processing technologies; sharing regional and international market information and experiences in researching and developing fruit-trees will be major objectives of the Dutch-Vietnamese cooperation in the near future.

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Publication date: August 2013Also interesting to read:

Introducing new standards ASC and GLOBALGAP for pangasius in Tra Vinh

Fresh Studio is contracted by GIZ to develop an ASC & Globalgap certified smallholder pangasius (catfish) farmer group in Tra Vinh Province.

The assignment started with an extensive analysis of the gap between the current fish farming practices and the new standard of ASC for pangasius, as well as the GLOBALGAP standard. While most pangasius fish farms in the Mekong Delta have developed into quite large very intensivebusinesses, the Tra Vinh pangasius smallholders have developed a different but sustainable production system.

The Tra Vinh model is less intensive, fish are healthy, and can be seen as a “cradle to cradle” scheme. Indeed, outlet waters are often use for irrigation of fruits and coconut gardens , and mud for fertilization. We believe that this farming system deserves market for those consumers who care about sustainability and quality, instead of disappearing into a bulk commodity pangasius product.

Based on the gap analysis a detailed plan was made to assist the smallholders to comply with both the ASC and GlobalGAP standard, one of the most important steps in this process was to first screen Vietnamese pangasius processors/exporters and European importers, in order to link the pangasius farming smallholders to those parties who are keen to buy and sell sustainably produced fish. These parties need to be willing to invest into the training of the farmers and to take over the whole extension and Internal Control System (ICS) after the first phase of the project is finished. Various companies were screened and very interested companies were selected to join the program.

On September the 17th and 18th a successful workshop was organized by Fresh Studio in Tra Vinh, where all pangasius small holders, the fisheries association, GIZ, local governmental departments and the selected companies came together and agreed on a detailed work plan, formalized into a MoU. All parties openly shared their hopes and fears and strategies were developed to deal with some of the fears.

The coming six to nine months the fish farmers will go through an intensive training program and a ICS system will be developed.