Queen Máxima meets Vietnamese vegetable farmers to discuss access to financial services

On Tuesday, 30th of May 2017, Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, in her capacity of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate on Inclusive Finance for Development, made a field visit to the Horti Dalat project in Vietnam.

Queen Máxima visits Vietnam from Tuesday 30 May through Thursday 1 June. The country is developing a national strategy for inclusive finance to promote adequate, affordable and sustainable access to financial services. The strategy’s aim is to improve the economic position of the Vietnamese people and foster development. In Vietnam only 1/3 of the adult population has access to formal financial services. From people living in rural area’s 75% lack access. One of the themes of the visit is value chain finance in agriculture. After the field visit in Da Lat, Queen Máxima will return to Ho Chi Minh city for a meeting with representatives of agricultural businesses and civil society organisations about the financing of agricultural activities.

Within the framework of the Horti Dalat project new modern vegetable production technologies were introduced to local farmers. Through the development and introduction of a new type of financial product, interested farmers were able to apply for a loan to invest in these technologies. Through intensive coaching of the first pilot farmers by the consulting and R&D company named Fresh Studio, farmers have been successfully adopting these new technologies by increasing their production and income significantly.

The first six pilot vegetable farmers used the loan to invest in protected cultivation (greenhouses) and fertigation systems. These commercial loans are a new type of non-secured loan, which is disbursed to carefully selected experienced vegetables farmers, with a convincing business case and cash flow plan. This innovative financial product for the Dalat area was developed with support of the Rabobank Foundation and disbursed to the farmers through Sacombank. Fresh Studio provides the technical support to the farmers and monitors their financial performance to limit risks and to ensure farmers are successful with their investment.

During the field visit Queen Máxima discussed with the project farmers, Rabobank Foundation, Sacombank, the supermarket chain Mega Market and Fresh Studio about their experiences with access to finance in the Horti Dalat project.

René van Rensen, R&D Director Crops of Fresh Studio is delighted with the Queens’ visit: “Together with our project partners we are able to show the positive impact on farmer’s lives and sustainable farming through inclusive agribusiness and access to finance to invest. We are pleased to directly share our experiences and insights from this project with Queen Máxima. We hope this will be a valuable input for her further meetings in Vietnam to advocate inclusive finance services for farmers.”

In a personal talk with Queen Maxima, pilot farmer Mr. Toan explained how this new financial product allowed him to get a loan, without having to mortgage his land. As a result of this investment, he has been able to increase his income 3 to 4 times, and will be able earn his investment back within 3 years.

With the positive results of the Horti Dalat project, Rabobank Foundation and Sacombank agreed to expand their horticulture financing model to more Vietnamese farmers. Fresh Studio will assist Sacombank in the process of farmer selection, business planning, farm monitoring and training of the farmers in using the new technologies. To further upscale inclusive financial services for farmers to invest in modern horticulture production, Rabobank Foundation, Sacombank and Fresh Studio are exploring additional partnerships for cooperation with other parties and are optimistic that the visit of Queen Máxima will contribute to this.

The Horti Dalat project background

Modern vegetable production can provide a solution to meet the fast growing demand for year round available high quality, safe and sustainable produced vegetables. The region around Dalat City (Lam Dong Province) with its unique climate is the most important horticulture area of Vietnam, supplying the fast growing cities with fresh produce. Although quite some developments in horticulture production took place, especially in flower production, the vegetable production sector is still characterized by smallholders with little knowledge of modern vegetable production technologies, or the means to invest in these technologies.

A consortium under the lead of Fresh Studio joined forces with the aim to accelerate the development of a professional horticulture sector by:

  • Introducing and showcasing modern horticulture production technologies in order to obtain higher yield, better quality and a more sustainable production system.
  • Establishing a platform to facilitate practical training for students and persons working within the horticulture sector
  • Establishing a financial product to support investments in modern horticulture production by local farmers

The Horti Dalat project partners are: Wageningen University, Rabobank Foundation, Sacombank, BVB Substrates, CMF, Da Lat University, HAS Hogeschool Den Bosch, Koppert Biological Systems, Rijk Zwaan, Ludvig Svensson, YARA, Priva and Fresh Studio. The project is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Fresh Studio background

Fresh Studio is the leading agriculture consultancy and R&D firm of Vietnam and Myanmar. Our mission is to make our clients successful in the sustainable production and marketing of food. Since 2006, we have worked passionately to achieve this mission and assist our clients to improve all practices from farm to fork. With a professional international and multi-disciplinary team of 80 staff, five offices, one food lab, two R&D farms, we are playing an important role in professionalising the agriculture sector in the region.

For more information about Fresh Studio contact:

René van Rensen
R&D Director Crops – Fresh Studio®

5B, Lane 111, Xuan Dieu Street, Quang An Ward, Tay Ho District,
Hanoi, Vietnam

Phone: +84 (0)4 3759 1380
E-mail: rene.van.rensen@freshstudio.vn

UNSGSA Office: www.unsgsa.org

New milestone: Over 100 plant varieties registered by Fresh Studio in Vietnam

Since 2006 Vietnam is a member the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). Fresh Studio is offering its services to register plant varieties in Vietnam on behalf of its clients since 2016. This April (2017) we received the 100th successful registration from the Plant Variety Protection Office in Vietnam.

New plant varieties are continuously bred by plant breeders all over world. This is very important work as through plant breeding farmers and growers get access to improved plant varieties with features such as improved yield, quality and disease resistance. These improved varieties assist farmers and growers to improve production while minimizing the impact on the environment.

Plant breeding is a long (multiple years) and expensive process and most plant varieties can be easily and quickly reproduced. In the case of a new plant variety it is therefore important to register the intellectual property rights: the breeder’s rights, to protect and recover the investment to develop a new plant variety.

When a variety is protected by the breeder’s rights, the authorization of the breeder is required to propagate the variety for commercial purposes. The breeder’s rights is granted by the individual UPOV members, in this case Vietnam. Fresh Studio is one of the first companies in Vietnam to offer its services to register the breeder’s rights in Vietnam on behalf of its clients. Currently Fresh Studio has submitted over 100 applications for breeder’s rights in Vietnam and is the largest applicant for breeder’s rights in Vietnam. For the registration of the breeder’s rights and the enforcement of these rights Fresh Studio is working in close cooperation with Royalty Administration International® C.V.

For more information to register and protect your plant variety in Vietnam contact Royalty Administration International® C.V. or Fresh Studio.

Grand opening of the Powering Aquaculture Progress Research and Innovation centre

Thursday May 4th marked the grand opening of the Powering Aquaculture Progress (PAP) R&D facility in Vinh Long, Vietnam.

More than 300 guests attended the event, including representatives from lead partner De Heus, internationally renowned aquaculture companies, leading aquaculture experts from all over the world, government, and farmers from across the Mekong Delta. With an indoor Recirculating Aquaculture System consisting of 111 tanks and 25 outdoor ponds varying between 100 – 2000m2 in surface area, its facilities rival the top aquaculture research centres in Asia.

Mr. Gabor Fluit, Business Group Director of De Heus Asia, described the vision of the research facility not only as a centre for De Heus feed development, but as a “centre for collaboration between public and private stakeholders in the industry”. The opening demonstrated the commitment of De Heus to become a lead player in Asia’s rapidly developing aquaculture sector.

Fresh Studio has been a key partner since project inception, co-developing the centre’s vision and supporting the design and construction phase. Fresh Studio staff is currently responsible for farm management, executing experiments, and carrying out dissemination objectives.

The first of these dissemination objectives is the organisation and facilitation of a training program designed for Tilapia and Pangasius farmers supported by De Heus. The training is not purely a class-room exercise on farming techniques, but provides a platform for farmers to share best practices and implement field trials together with farmers.

In the long term, the aquaculture R&D facility should become a hub for development of concrete solutions from feeding practices to farm management. Together with the high-quality feed developed by De Heus, these locally adapted solutions should help address a wider range of issues facing producers in the region.

This state-of-the-art facility should become the nexus where innovations developed can be tested and adapted to local conditions. By bringing together industry and academia, De Heus and its implementing partner Fresh Studio, Can Tho and Wageningen University hope to provide innovative solutions to sector-defined problems, and support the growth, sustainability and profitability of aquaculture in Vietnam.