Fresh Studio presents at the Asia Fruit Congress in Bangkok

Fresh Studio’s managing partner Siebe van Wijk will present about developing the horticulture sector of Vietnam during the Asia Fruit Congress in Bangkok on Friday November 4.

This presentation in Bangkok is exactly 15 years after Fresh Studio presented at the first Asia Fruit Congress in Bangkok in 2007. In Fresh Studio’s latest presentation, we will show how the Vietnamese horticulture sector is developing and what more investments are needed to make Vietnam’s horticulture sector more sustainable and successful in both the domestic and export market.

Traditionally policy makers often focus on developing the export sector, but with a domestic market value for fruit and vegetables of US$ 15 billion, the Vietnamese domestic market should not be ignored. Vietnam for example, already has become the 4th largest apple importer in the world.

In the domestic supermarkets imported fruits are taking over the shelf space from the domestic fresh produce. A study of Fresh Studio in 2018, showed that on average already 40% of the shelf space was occupied by imported fruits in HCMC supermarkets, and since then this number has only increased.

For sure a Vietnamese consumer would like to eat an apple or a grape once in a while, instead of a mango or a pomelo, but for the future of the Vietnamese horticulture sector it is crucial that it takes the domestic market very serious. Otherwise it may boast to have over US$ 1 billion of fresh fruit exports, but has lost a big chunk of its much larger domestic market to imported fruits from countries like Thailand and China.

In Fresh Studio’s presentation clear advise is provided for the public and private sector what to do to further professionalize Vietnamese horticulture sector.

Jungle Talks to Vietnam

In the past year radio program “Jungle Talks to the World” has been putting the spotlight on horticultural developments around the world. This year, from May 6 onwards, it will continue with brand new episodes in English, discussing what’s going on in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) in 15 different countries. Vietnam is up first, an up and coming ‘Asian Tiger’ and a country that, also in horticulture, is putting itself on the map.

Agricultural Counsellor Willem Schoustra, along with Gerrit Bulk (general manager BeJo Vietnam), Hoshi Lin and Robert Wang (general manager en marketing manager at Royal Base / Apollo Farms) and Rene van Rensen (R&D Director Fresh Studio) will take the audience on an inspiring horticultural journey to a fascinating country.

Certain regions in Vietnam, especially Dalat, possess a great natural climate for the production of fresh produce. Labor costs are also attractive and labor quality is excellent. These factors among others, have stimulated the expansion of CEA in the past couple of years.  

On May 6, 16.00 hrs CET Ed Smit will introduce the four guests and the companies/organizations they represent. One week later, again from 16.00 hrs CET onwards, they’ll discuss four relevant themes that will give you important insights in Vietnam’s current situation and future outlook.

If you are interested in Vietnam, being a (technical) supplier, investor, consultant, trader, teacher or student, don’t miss these programs on May 6 and May 13 to get value insider insights in this fast developing country.

‘Jungle Talks to Vietnam’ is powered by Paprika Tasty Radio and Jungle Talks and supported by Netherlands Enterprise Agency. Following previous shows in Dutch, the program now continues in English and will also be made available as podcast. In addition, the shows will be offered to foreign radio stations as syndicate radio.

Tune in on Thursday May 6 and May 13 via at 16.00 hrs CET.

Study Tour for HAS Den Bosch students

Fresh Studio had the pleasure to organize a study tour for International Food & Agribusiness students from the HAS University of Applied Sciences Den Bosch of the Netherlands in April 2018. In addition to studying the agriculture sector in Vietnam, the students had also the opportunity to explore Vietnamese history and culture. 

The study tour started in Da Lat, in the central highlands of Vietnam. This area is a major horticulture production center for vegetables and flowers. Due to the mild climate, animal husbandry is also an important sector in this area. During the first 2 days, visits were made to a plant nursery, a modern greenhouse vegetable producer, a local dairy and pig farm, local vegetable farmers, the Fresh Studio R&D farm, a professional vegetable trader and the local wholesale market. The visits allowed students to gain insight into the organization of agriculture production and trade in one of the major horticulture regions of Vietnam.

After the cool central highlands, the program continued in the Mekong Delta starting at the Cu Chi tunnels followed by a visit to the Cu Chi Hightech Agricultural park. Combining study and tourism, the tour introduced the students to an important historical area where they could see an example of Vietnamese ingenuity from the war. Later they saw how innovation has been applied to the aquaculture and fruit sectors, two sectors where Vietnam is a major exporter. Visits to fish and fruit farms were integral to the program. Students also could see how these products are handled further up the supply chain through visits to a professional fruit exporter and Binh Dien whole sale market. During the last day SOFRI (Southern Horticulture Research Institute), Vinacas (Vietnamese cashew nut association) and the Dutch consulate in HCMC were visited before the program was completed with a visit to Nong Lam University where Dr. Võ Thái Dân (Dean of the Faculty of Agronomy) was kind enough to present how agriculture education is organised in Vietnam.

After covering a wide range of agricultural subsectors, different actors in each supply chain, and exchanging information on the roles of governments and educational institutions in agriculture, the students wrapped up their studies in Vietnam. Fresh Studio thanks the students and teachers from the HAS Den Bosch for their enthusiastic participation as well as all of the hosts and facilitators who shared their knowledge and time with the participants.

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.

Dutch Horticulture Open House event: completion TF Horti Dalat project

The Transition Facility (TF) project “Accelerating the development of modern greenhouse vegetable production in Vietnam”, supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs started in 2014 in Lam Dong province. This project is coming to a close. To highlight the innovations introduced and celebrate the achievements a Dutch Horticulture Open House was organized at the R&D farm of Fresh Studio in Dalat.

The first ever Dutch Horticulture Open House was a huge success with over 300 attending farmers. Greenhouse technologies used within the project were exposed and demonstrated to farmers and project partners during the event. The Open House provided ample opportunities for networking and discussions. Also, the six pilot farmers, whom invested in imported greenhouses, were put into the spotlight.

The following results clearly show that this project contributed to the accelerated development of modern greenhouse production in Vietnam and has created a foundation to further introduce Dutch greenhouse technologies in Vietnam:

  • > 720 farmers trained in modern greenhouse production
  • 6 Modern greenhouse established with 6 pilot farmers
  • 4 vegetable brands created
  • 3 Training manuals developed
  • Successful commercial introduction of various new inputs
  • Next disbursement of loans of 300,000 EUR to invest in modern greenhouse production in preparation

These results would not have been achieved without the contribution and support of all the project partners. We are grateful for this cooperation and look forward to see you all during the next Horticulture Open House at our R&D farm in 2018.

Photo impression of Dutch Horticulture Open House

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 …

Dutch potato to help lift up Vietnamese agriculture

The Dutch Vice-Minister of Agriculture and local authorities of Bac Ninh province visited an event in the field of the project “Growing out of poverty with potato” in Tien Du district, Bac Ninh on the occasion of potato harvest and delivery of training certificates to participating farmers.

“Growing out of poverty with potato” is 5 year PPP (Public Private Partnership) project (2014-2019) between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Fresh Studio (local project management), Agrico, PepsiCo Vietnam and Dutch Wageningen University. With the objective of setting an example of a sustainable value chain for high quality potato in Vietnam, the project has been implemented for two years and has acquired promising achievements. The event is the result of commercial production trials for two Dutch potato varieties, Markies & Rosagold, before putting in mass production.

Potatoes provide an interesting opportunity to improve food security, support pro-poor development and boost a healthy, diverse diet in Vietnam. Despite being richer in fibre, vitamins, and minerals than rice or wheat, with the production requiring less water and land, production and consumption of potatoes in Vietnam are still very modest. Potato has also been proved a profitable addition to the current crops planted by small-scale farmers in Vietnam.

Siebe van Wijk, Managing Director of Fresh Studio stated during his presentation: “The 5-year project stimulates supply, fosters demand, develops the value chain and initiates a structural policy dialogue to support a sustainable potato sector in Vietnam. The project is successful when the Vietnamese potato sector can compete with imports and supplies of both the domestic table potato market and the potato processing industry with a consistent volume of high quality potatoes”.

On the supply side, the project focuses on testing high-yielding varieties, training farmers and production advisors. After two years the project obtained among others the following achievements:

  • 2 high quality potato varieties were selected to be introduced in Vietnamese market.
  • Purchase, test and introduction of tractors, planting and harvesting machines.
  • 27 production advisers and 1690 farmers (70% female) were trained in potato production.
  • Farmers and traders were connected during a series of field activities, after which more than 648 supply contracts were signed.
  • Nearly 1000,000 consumers in the urban areas of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city were reached during awareness campaigns (online and offline) on nutritional values of potatoes and preparation modes.
  • To understand the demand, preferences and behaviour of consumers, 1000 consumers participated in consumer research.
  • The Potato Policy Discussion Platform has been formed and active with regular meetings and policy workshops.

Speaking at the event, Marjolijn Sonnema, Dutch Vice Minister of Agriculture stated:“As one of the world’s biggest agricultural manufacturers, the Netherlands hopes that our expertise will help Vietnam in enhancing food security, promoting sustainable agricultural production, increasing farmers’ incomes, and improving their livelihoods”.

With a smart approach and dedicated implementing partners, it is positive that the project will be able to build a robust system for potato sector which can sustain and flourish even after the project finishes. And the day when Vietnamese potato can compete with imports, supplying effectively for the domestic market will be in vision.

De Heus and Fresh Studio open Aquaculture R&D farm in Vietnam in Spring 2017

Dutch feed giant Royal De Heus Animal Nutrition is to strengthen its position in Vietnam’s aquaculture sector in 2017, with the opening of a new research facility in partnership with R&D and consultancy firm Fresh Studio.

The center – due to officially open in spring 2017 – will initially focus on developing knowledge of pangasius, tilapia, snakehead and shrimp feeds. The aim is to improve the feeding performance of these species, to maximize animal growth and limit wastage of resources, Fresh Studio’s managing director Siebe van Wijk told Undercurrent News.

We hope our work can improve efficiency, quality, and stability; that’s how we can start developing the whole supply chain, into a value chain.

Mr. Siebe van Wijk – Director Fresh Studio

Fresh Studio began its work in the horticulture sector in Vietnam, where one of the largest supermarket chains in the world contracted it to develop direct farmer sourcing systems, he said. To ensure farmers complied with the quality standards of Fresh Studio’s client, Fresh Studio developed an extension service and an R&D and demonstration farm. “Within a period of ten years the combination of applied research, extension and cooperation with a large number of technology companies, resulted in the successful introduction of value-adding innovations to thousands of farmers.

Indoors at the new center

Based on this success, Fresh Studio’s client retailer contracted it to develop the same sourcing system for aquaculture. While developing this sourcing system, Fresh Studio too saw the need for the same applied R&D approach in the aquaculture sector, said van Wijk. De Heus, which had just made its first investment in the fish feed sector, saw the same need, and the first partnership stages were formed.

De Heus first became active in Vietnam in 2008, and completed a new factory there in April 2016. Now, two years after the partnership formed, their six hectare facility in Vinh Long Province, Mekong Delta, has an operating, indoor recirculation aquaculture system. Work on the outdoor area is being completed currently.

From Fresh Studio’s presentation at the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge event

The R&D farm was funded through a public private partnership between De Heus, Fresh Studio and an R&D grant from the Dutch government. Links with science were made by involving Can Tho University and Wageningen University. For De Heus, this R&D facility should develop into a key innovation center for its aquaculture feed programs in other Southeast Asian nations, as well as important other fish feed markets, such as China, and Egypt. After one year of research on pangasius and tilapia, the facility is now moving into snakehead and shrimp, said van Wijk, and will branch out into feeding technology and “pure research” on feed, to “provide concrete solutions to farmers on improved feed management”.

The site, as seen from Google Maps

Presenting the initiative at the “Aquaculture Innovation Challenge” in Ho Chi Minh – organized by the Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal, Solidaridad, and Fresh Studio early in December – van Wijk noted that pangasius selling prices at retail were trending downwards, while production costs have risen over the past 16 years. Hence the need for research into feed; feed costs make up over 90% of pangasius farming, and 85% of the cost of producing tilapia too.

Aside from this, poor seed quality and disease outbreaks can also eat into profits for farmers, he noted. When it comes to FRCs, a slight improvement could mean a big difference to margins. Currently salmon’s average feed conversion ratio (FCR) is around 1.1, while pangasius is 1.5 and tilapia 2.6, according to data he presented.

“There’s certainly room for improvement to get a bit nearer that 1.1 mark for pangasius, and that would mean real savings.”

For instance, working on the basis of a pangasius maket price of VND 21,000 per kilogram, an FCR improvement from 1.5 to 1.2 could mean savings of 20%, or VND 4,050/kg, he said. In turn this could lead to an upward spiral of better products and higher yields, improving demand, and ultimately earning higher prices, Fresh Studio hopes.

From Fresh Studio’s presentation at the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge event

We expect indirect savings also. From the farm side, because less feed will be used per pond, less organic matters will be released into the ponds which should limit both the pumping costs to exchange water, and treatment costs to cure diseases.

From a market perspective, these improvements should be perceived positively, and may play a part in driving higher market prices in the long-term, it is hoped. By the time the official opening comes around, De Heus and Fresh Studio will announce collaborations with other key players in the aquaculture sector, who want their technologies and production systems tested and further improved, he said.


The Aquaculture Innovation Challenge successfully kicks-off in HCMC

Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal (STIP), Fresh Studio and Solidaridad successfully kicked off the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge on Tuesday, 6 December 2016, with an inspiring event to bridge the gap between innovators and impact investors in the aquaculture sector.

The kick-off event was honored to welcome Mr. Arie Veldhuizen – Agriculture Counsellor from Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands sharing with background information that lead to the mission of the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge (AIC): to find the bright minds and enabling them to realize their ambition by connecting them to finance and capital.

With the participation of representatives ranging from Vietnamese and foreign individuals, students, start-ups, project teams and companies working in the aquaculture sector, key information of the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge was fully released with the overview, categories and how to apply, the jury model and what participants can gain from the Challenge with selection criteria for the awards.

Joining the event, participants were also deeply inspired during different small group discussions and valuable presentations delivered by key-note speakers. All key-note speakers were selected on their diverse backgrounds (commercial bank, NGO, consultancy firm, successful start-up model) as a company or organization in the aquaculture sector.

Join the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge

The Challenge is now open for online and offline applications from 6 December 2016 until 18 February 2017. Finalists will be invited to an intensive business plan boot camp and pitching event in June 2017. The best business plans will be awarded a cash investment for initiating the business plan.

See in which category you can participate during the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge and apply for the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge.

Read more about the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge here: visit the website

Enhancing the capabilities of Vietnamese key-trainers in protected horticulture in South Vietnam

HollandDoor and Fresh Studio in collaboration with Nong Lam University organized the first training week of a 2 week practical training course to build the capacity of 20 key persons active in protected horticulture in the south of Vietnam.

The practical training course was held from 24 – 28 October at the Agricultural High Tech Park in Cu Chi. For this training week 3 greenhouse crops (tomato, melon and lettuce) were established as practical training locations.

The training deals with:

  1. Knowledge transfer and skills training in the field of market-oriented, sustainable (protected) cultivation
  2. Training on appropriate, practical training methods for farmers, engineers and students (including course and materials development)
  3. Training on the concept of knowledge sharing between farmers and sme’s (study groups)

During the first practical training week participants were trained by Jos Leeters, Geerten van der Lugt, Lo Xuan Dung and René van Rensen in:

  • Fertigation and irrigation strategies for greenhouse crops
  • Measuring and monitoring farm activities and greenhouse crops
  • Training methodology
  • Substrate characteristics and usage
  • Supply chain and market trends

Through presentations, practical exercises and group discussion the trainees gained valuable insights in these subjects and how to apply these within the local situation. The enthusiasm of both the trainers and trainees resulted not only in a very successful and but also enjoyable training week as can be seen in the photo impression of the training week.

This practical training course was offered with the financial support of EP Nuffic and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.