Accelerating the development of the Vietnamese potato sector

The stereotype of Asian agriculture consists of endless rice fields. However, there is plenty of space for potato, both literally and figuratively speaking. The project “Growing out of poverty with potato” strives to support Vietnam in becoming more self-sufficient in the production of potatoes. The project covers the entire chain, from farmer to consumer.

Article by: Marc Meijer

How many objectives could one project possibly target simultaneously? The revitalization of the modest Vietnamese potato industry through this project increases the living standards of farmers, expands the diet variations of the population, improve food safety, makes Vietnam become self sufficient with domestic potato supply and contributes to sustainable agricultural growth.” It completely addresses all different crucial aspects, and therefore is a solid and inspiring project. I believe in this project.” says Mrs. Sigrid Wertheim-Heck, the Director of Marketing and Business Development at Fresh Studio.

New varieties

The project encompasses three components. “On the production side, we’re introducing new varieties and sustainable cultivation techniques, targeting 2500 farmers. In addition, we support the farmers with trainings and the organization of their businesses. With simple farming machinery we try to improve the working conditions. This is necessary, since potato cultivation is a labor-intensive activity. It involves strenuous manual work. Most of the cultivation and harvesting is taken up by women.” On the demand side, the project focuses on raising awareness about the nutritional values of potatoes. Building on an extensive consumer research, this will be achieved by an extensive awareness campaign in early 2016. The third component consists of establishing the linkage between supply and demand. “We identify the proper traders and retailers in order to supply high quality potatoes in the best possible way to consumers.

It completely addresses all different crucial aspects, and therefore is a solid and inspiring project. I believe in this project.

Mrs. Sigrid Wertheim-Heck

Taste lab

What distinguishes this project from similar projects is the significant focus on demand. In other words, as Mrs. Wertheim-Heck puts it: “We assess the agricultural performance of the new varieties as well as the market performance.” The latter happens in “taste labs”-locations where consumers (and farmers) can taste and judge new potatoes varieties. In this way, the market potential of certain varieties will be apparent in advance.


“Growing out of poverty with potato” is a public-private partnership between Fresh Studio, PepsiCo Vietnam, Agrico BV and Applied Plant Research WUR. This consortium combines local expertise with international cultivation advice, and introduces Dutch potato varieties with commercial potential for different purposes. The potato cultivation season in Vietnam fits in the rice-low season. This implies that farmers can generate an additional income in this period.

Big buyer

The participation of PepsiCo Vietnam, a company with large purchasing power and interest in sourcing high quality product from sustainable producers, is important.” said Mrs. Wertheim-Heck. “It provides stability for the farmers. The support from the Dutch Government with FDOV (see box) enables us, the project partners, to execute a project that would otherwise not be feasible for a stand-alone private party. A sector in Vietnam that received less attention, is given a major upswing on all aspects.”


With the “Facility for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security” (FDOV) the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands stimulates public-private partnerships in the field of food security and private sector development in emerging markets. RVO is responsible for the operational management of this facility. For more information visit:

Read this article in Dutch @



Publication date: 2015

First milestones achieved for the development of a modern greenhouse sector

With the completion of 6 modern greenhouses an important milestone is achieved as part of the Transition Facility project “Accelerating the development of a modern greenhouse vegetable production sector in Vietnam”. Sweet pepper and tomato crops are planted and the first harvest is expected in October. The greenhouses will be used to train >700 farmers in modern greenhouse vegetable production.

The completion of 6 modern greenhouses is the result of a lot of preparation and efforts of various project partners and the 6 selected pilot farmers. Although this is a real milestone, the project activities don’t stop here. The next phase of the project involves the actual production in the greenhouses and knowledge dissemination activities towards farmers. Regular updates regarding the crop status and production results will be provided in future project updates.

Access to finance

To enable the pilot farmers to make the investment in modern greenhouse vegetable production the Rabobank Foundation signed an agreement with Sacombank to provide the 6 pilot farmers with a loan to finance their investment in the modern greenhouse hardware and the initial operational costs. After obtaining approval from the State Bank of Vietnam the loans were disbursed to the pilot farmers in April 2015.


At Fresh Studio’s R&D farm a multi-span greenhouse (CMF ESPACE 9.60 M) with automatic ventilation and screening (SVENSSON XLS 50 F HARMONY REVOLUX) is installed. At the other 5 pilot farms a multi-span greenhouse (CMF ESPACE 9.60 M) with fixed ventilation is installed.

Climate control and irrigation

A climate control and irrigation system (PRIVA NUTRIFIT and MAXIMIZER) is installed at the Fresh Studio’s R&D farm to operate the new greenhouse. This system will also be used to collect climate data for the project partners.


Grow slabs (with a mix of cocopeat, peatmoss and perlite) from BVB-substrates are imported to be used as substrate by the pilot farmers.


5 pilot farmers decided to grow tomatoes (beef, normal, cocktail and cherry) and 1 pilot farmer decided to grow sweet pepper (red and yellow). The varieties planted are from Rijk Zwaan.


YARA Vietnam made arrangements to enable the pilot farmers to buy the Kristalon fertilizer range.

Training materials

The first version of Vietnamese sweet pepper and tomato training materials is completed. For NFT lettuce, training material is being developed. Farmer training activities will start in September 2015.

Knowledge development

As a spinoff of this project a proposal to develop a practical knowledge and training institute that supports the development of the Vietnamese agrifood sector towards a sustainable, healthy and upgraded industry, through sharing knowledge and skills in the production-, postharvest- and distribution stages of the supply chain was submitted by HAS Hogeschool and granted by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. The name of the project is Fresh Academy Vietnam.

This development is a result of the collaboration with project:

Accelerating a modern greenhouse vegetable production sector

Modern greenhouse vegetable production can provide an innovative solution to meet the fast growing demand for high quality, safe and sustainable produced vegetables, which are year round available …

Relocation of Fresh Studio’s head office in Hanoi, Vietnam

Fresh Studio is pleased to announce the relocation of its headquarters in Hanoi. The move to a new location is motivated by our expanding activities and increase of staff. The new office includes a state of the art facility for food products testing among end-consumers, the “Fresh Studio Taste Lab”.

Our new head office address:

2nd and 3rd floor

5B Lane 111, Xuan Dieu Street, Quang An Ward,

Tay Ho District, Hanoi


The building is conveniently located and can be easily reached from different directions: Noi Bai airport, the Hanoi city centre and main urban residential districts of Hanoi. 

The new location, besides modern and spacious office facilities, provides also a professional taste lab equipped with state of the art kitchen technologies. The “Fresh Studio Taste Lab” offers the opportunity to conduct sensory tests with fresh and processed food products among producers, end-consumers and professional users.

With this new facility Fresh Studio offers now a unique R&D service that ranges from production at our R&D farms (2 for vegetables and 1 for aquaculture) up until product testing. Fresh Studio is the only consultancy firm in Vietnam capable of testing food products on both agronomical and market performance.

Please feel welcome to visit the new office. Contact Fresh Studio on +84 (0)4 37591380 for any queries.

Photos of our new head office