HANOI – How do Vietnamese farmers living in the mountains, far away from the big city manage to sell their fresh vegetables at supermarkets in Hanoi? The Dutch organization Fresh Studio helped the farmers to make it possible. An interview with Sigrid Wertheim-Heck, Fresh Studio’s Marketing and Business Development Director.
Translated directly from Dutch
Fresh Studio has developed a ‘cold chain’ for small scale remote farmers so they can sell their fresh products in Hanoi. What is it exactly?
“We bring small scale framers together who live widely dispersed from each other. We collect the harvest at central collection points and from there it is transported to the city and to the supermarkets.”
How does it work?
“First, farmers bring their harvested products to a central collection point. Second, the vegetables will be sorted and stacked on a pallet. A ‘cooling blanket’ is wrapped around the pallet and a ventilator is installed above it to blow air through the pallet. By this, we can maintain the quality of the products. Finally, the products are transported with a truck to supermarkets.”
Is there a high demand for fresh products in Hanoi?
“Food safety is the main concern in Vietnam. Every day, you can find a newspaper article about a food scandal. The demand for fresh vegetables is enormous. Only in Hanoi, a city of 6.5 million inhabitants, people already eat vegetables which is equal to half of the Dutch vegetable consumption. However, in the meantime, the population is very suspicious about food. In particular, the incorrect and excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is a major concern.”
And what did you do?
“We did an intervention in two ways; first, we have unified farmers and gave them the opportunity to enter the urban market. Second, we assisted them to produce safe products. The execution of the intervention relies on 3 teams. One team of agronomist trains the farmers in how to grow crops in a safe way and coaches them to deal with pesticides. Another team executes audits to check if the crops meet the quality requirements. The harvest products will be rejected when the farmer cannot meet the required standard. A third team assists in the marketing and communication towards end-consumers.”
How do the farmers get paid?
“Supermarkets offer the farmers a predetermined week price per product. So they know in advance exactly what the yield is of a kilo beans or tomatoes.”
And what about you?
“We are paid by commercial parties, trade enterprises between farmers and supermarkets. And we receive funding for our projects.”
What is Fresh Studios’ future goal?
“At this moment we assist the trade company The Fruit Republic with their current marketing of four thousand pounds of safe vegetables a week. That could be a lot more, since the demand of safe vegetables is high. We have developed the recognizable red Mekostar label, so consumers will recognize immediately which products are good and reliable. In a country of 88 million citizens, I expect an enormous increase of the safe vegetables sales. With the mission to grow better lives from farmers to consumers, Fresh Studio works on every aspect of agri-food provision: From farm to fork, from sourcing to marketing.
Language: Dutch (Translation English)
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