A practical knowledge and training institute to support the development of the agrifood sector in Vietnam.
Horticulture in Vietnam has been growing fast in the past few decades. While rapid economic and population growth has imposed a high pressure on horticulture production, there is still a large potential for productivity improvement for the domestic market as well as exporting but at the same time the concerns on food safety (overuse and miss use of agrichemicals, health risks for workers and consumers) also demand for effective solutions.
Growing conditions in Vietnam show a wide variation due to different climatic zones and altitudes. For example, Dalat’s high altitude and temperate climate is suitable for greenhouse production of ‘European’ vegetables and flowers whereas in the Red river delta horticultural production is very seasonal due to a huge difference between the very cool winter and hot humid summer. Thus, the Vietnamese horticultural sector requires application of modern technology and knowledge with a dedicated regional scope.
The Vietnamese governmental institutes are not very strong on practical and applied knowledge, especially on protected agriculture sector because their main scope is academic research and education. However, there is an increasing awareness and willingness to promote applied science and technology in regular education and practical training.
The Netherlands is the world’s second largest exporter of food and agriculture products, thanks to its modern and innovative technology. A number of Dutch companies have actively participated in Vietnamese agrifood sector and some of them include knowledge transfer in their normal scope, but an integrated and coordinated approach is still missing.
Fresh Studio, since long time, has seen the need to structurally invest in applied knowledge development in the Vietnamese agrifood sector. Fresh Studio actually has taken the initiative in stimulating (more) knowledge-to-knowledge cooperation through R&D and consultancy, building knowledge and skills in vegetable, potato and fruit supply chains. A partnership in horticulture between the Netherlands and Vietnam was launched in March 2013 (HortiViN) to pave the way for long term collaboration between the governments, academic institutes and companies in order to support Vietnam to become a major player in horticulture and address the aforementioned challenges.
Taking into account all above issues, the partners in the project decided to establish the ‘Fresh Academy’, 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.
The Fresh Academy aims to cover all primary agricultural produce of the whole country on the long run. However, for this initial project, the priority is on vegetables and ornamental products that are grown under protected and controlled environments.