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.
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.“
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.
“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: http://www.rvo.nl/subsidies-regelingen/programma-publieke-private-samenwerking/faciliteit-duurzaam-ondernemen-en-voedselzekerheid.
Publication date: 2015