Fresh Academy Course for Rikolto in Vietnam: Capacity building for Inclusive Agricultural value Chains

Hanoi November 12-14, Fresh Studio/Fresh Academy conducted a three-day Training of Trainers (TOT) on Inclusive business for agricultural value chains for Rikolto staff in Vietnam and their projects partners including farmer cooperative leaders and local authorities in Rikolto’s rice and vegetable value chain projects. A diverse group of 15 participants came from Ha Noi, Ha Nam, Vinh Phuc, Dong Thap and An Giang.

The TOT is tailored designed based on the client’s needs and combined of theoretical and practical modules to enrich participants’ knowledge and skills that can be applied directly to their current projects. In the theoretical part, participants were exposed to concepts of supply chain management, business model canvas, inclusive business assessments, inclusive model development, impact planning and partnership brokering. In addition, for practice, group field visits were organized to different retail channels such as wet markets and supermarkets. Participants were able to see how the 4Ps of products marketing in reality, where values were added, and gathered lesson learned for their own specific projects. Information gathered from these visits were reflected in group exercises in which participants applied various toolkits to identify action plans for improvement of their value chains.

Successful launch of the Fresh Academy in Vietnam

In the presence of Vietnamese and Dutch representatives of the public and private agribusiness sectors, Fresh Studio launched the Fresh Academy on Thursday October 5 in Ha Noi.

Dutch and Vietnamese knowledge institutions, supported by the industry, have been working together since 2015 on the design and establishment of the Fresh Academy. This includes the development of training programs, training materials, implementing and testing them by training the trainers. All this hard work has resulted in the start of actual operations of the Fresh Academy. The first commercial training courses in practical horticulture will be available from early 2018 onwards in Vietnam.

The agricultural sector in Vietnam, including horticulture, develops strongly. Still one of the shortcomings in the sector development is the lack of well qualified professionals who can manage farms, individual greenhouses and fields and provide technical support to growers. Not only horticulture production companies are facing problems in finding well qualified staff, but also companies providing inputs to the sector and successful farmers who are expanding their farms and need to recruit workers and supervisors to manage their growth. Although training for farmers and other participants in the value chain are occasionally offered under government schemes and donor programs, the Fresh Academy is the first training & knowledge center in Vietnam offering training courses continuously on a commercial basis within the agricultural sector. These courses aim to develop professional farm managers, supervisors, senior workers and local farmers. The practical approach used in these courses fill an important gap, which is indispensable to come to a sustainable and technically advanced agricultural sector in Vietnam.

For the horticulture training courses, the Fresh Academy brings together the best of two worlds: practical training courses and trainers from the best applied universities and horticulture schools in the Netherlands and Vietnam, and all experience and local industry insights from Fresh Studio who has been developing successful horticulture value chains in Vietnam for over 10 years.

Fresh Studio, the Dutch HAS University of Applied Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, Lentiz Course & Consult, Demokwekerij Westland, Kenlog b.v. and 4 Vietnamese universities (Vietnam National University of Agriculture, Nong Lam University, Da Lat University and Dong Thap University) have worked together since 2015 in a project, with co-funding of the Netherlands government, to lay the foundations for the Fresh Academy. From now onwards, the knowledge and training center will operate as a business unit of Fresh Studio. In order to support the development of training courses and to ensure solid embedding in the Vietnamese agriculture industry, the Fresh Academy works with strategic educational partners in Vietnam: Vietnam National University of Agriculture in Ha Noi and Nong Lam University in Ho Chi Minh City. Furthermore, the Fresh Academy has a strategic partnership with the Lentiz Education Group in the Netherlands for developing and conducting advanced horticulture training courses.

Whereas the first phase of the Fresh Academy will focus on courses in horticulture (vegetables and flowers), on the long term the training portfolio will cover other agricultural sectors such as fruits, arable crops (e.g. potato and corn), aquaculture, and animal husbandry. For each agriculture subsector, the Fresh Academy will form partnerships with the best applied universities and training institutes in the world to develop training courses which are relevant and value added to local conditions. The Fresh Academy also envisages to play a regional role in Southeast Asia, in which participants from neighboring countries can join the training courses and at a later stage potentially training courses in countries like Myanmar and Indonesia can be setup.

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Fresh Academy: A practical knowledge and training institute

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.