Value chain management and market linkages for fruits and aquaculture in Mekong Delta training

On 9 and 10 September 2022 Fresh Studio under the lead of our value chain development expert Mr. Siebe van Wijk organized the 2nd value chain management and market linkage training as part of the Nuffic OKP project: ‘Towards a climate resilient nursery sector and value chains in the Mekong Delta through capacity building in the educational and governmental sectors’.

During the training the trainee learned how to do a value chain analysis and which tools they can use to gather the insights of a current chain to be able to develop a value chain.

The highly participatory approach of the training resulted that all trainees were actively involved in the various training sessions. The knowledge and methods trained during the classroom sessions were applied by the trainees during their assignments and field work, including on site interviews with actors active within a water spinach and mustard chain.  The training activities accumulated in 2 groups presenting their ideas and approaches required to develop a water spinach and mustard value chain by the end of the training.

The OKP project is a Dutch-Vietnamese knowledge partnership project to promote the development of a climate-resilient nursery sector & value chains in An Giang, Dong Thap, Can Tho, Soc Trang, Tien Giang and Vinh Long, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and managed by NUFFIC.

This project introduces scalable water technology pilots for the aquaculture and horticulture sectors to develop climate-smart value chains. The project international partners including Aeres University, Has University, Fresh Studio Innovations Asia and Nong Lam University work with local governments and educational institutions to enhance capacity so that adaptations to cope with transformation in the Mekong Delta can be accelerated at the local level.

Irrigation efficiency and water use-efficiency in crops production

2021 April 16-17th Ho Chi Minh City

Twenty professors and researchers from universities, DARDs, TVET and research institutes will participate in a two-day training entitled “Irrigation efficiency and water use-efficiency in crops production”. This is one of several pieces of training offered by the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) Project “Towards a climate resilient nursery sector and value chains in the Mekong Delta through capacity building in the educational and government sectors”.

OKP project is A Dutch-Vietnamese knowledge partnership project to promote the development of a climate resilient nursery sector & value chains in An Giang, Dong Thap, Can Tho, Soc Trang, Tien Giang and Vinh Long, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and managed by NUFFIC. This project introduces scalable water technology pilots for the aquaculture and horticulture sectors to develop climate-smart value chains. The project international partners including AERES University, HAS University, Fresh Studio Innovations Asia and Nong Lam University work with local governments and educational institutions to enhance capacity so that adaptations to cope with transformation in the MD can be accelerated at the local level.

The main outcomes of the projects are :

  • Improved capacity of trainers and teachers, upgraded curricula and training materials applying interactive multi-disciplinary approaches in higher education (HE) and technical vocational education and training (TVET).
  • Establishment of an indoor nursery R&D facility for Pangasius to pre-nurse robust juveniles which deliver higher yields, and thereby added value to local farmers.
  • Enhanced knowledge & capacity on integrated adaptation strategies, climate smart agriculture (CSA) and efficient water management themes of support organizations within aquaculture & horticulture value chains

“The Netherland- Vietnam Strategic Partnership Agreements (SPAs) focus on technology and knowledge transfer in climate change, water management, sustainable agriculture and food security; the focus themes of this project. The Mekong Delta Agricultural Transformation Plan (MD-ATP) and VN Government Resolution 120 endorse agricultural transition toward vertically integrated value chains and a shift to modern agro-business specialization. The OKP NUFFIC project contributes directly to realize this vision through the transfer of essential technology, knowledge, and skills, “ said Mr. Willem Schoustra, Agriculture Counsellor, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Vietnam

The supply of fruits and vegetables in the MD still cannot meet the increasing demand domestically and abroad. According to the World Bank (2016), the fruit demand in Vietnam will increase from 5 million tons by 2009 to 7 million tons by 2030. Vietnamese exports of fruit show ongoing growth. The capacity to produce diversified fruit types is an advantage of Vietnamese fruit when penetrating the world market.

In addition, the participation of Vietnam in trade agreements (CPTPP and EVFTA) brings great market potential for processed fruits due to big and rapid tax reduction commitments by member countries, especially compared to fresh and raw products. Freshwater supply, suboptimal groundwater tables and reducing agricultural lands due to salinity intrusion and rising sea levels has strong impacts on fruits & vegetables production in the MD. This requires efficient and climate smart water management strategies.

One of the most effective means to conserve water appears to be through carefully managed deficit irrigation strategies that are supported by advanced irrigation systems. Implementation of crop location strategies, conversion to crops with higher economic value or productivity per unit of water consumed, and adoption of drought‐ and/or salt-tolerant crops are discussed in academic research, however these strategies are still very limited in practice. This project will focus on filling this gap. Technical trainings on water quality management and irrigation efficiency for agricultural value chains will be developed and contextualized to close the gap between theory and practices.

Shallot value chain analysis highlights key intervention opportunities

In Vietnam, the province of Soc Trang is famous for its shallots. Since a few years, however, it is no longer the shallot itself but the shallot farmers which are grabbing headlines across the country.

Most shalllot farmers are among the poorest people in the country. Increasingly unpredictable rainfall has lowered yields and changing market conditions have created demand uncertainty. Each year thousands of tons of shallots remain unsold. Soc Trang province is aware of the difficulties facing the sector and wants to provide support.

Fresh Studio was requested to support Soc Trang province in this process. In the first phase of the project, Fresh Studio conducted a value chain analysis to critically assess the issues faced by different stakeholders and identify opportunities for improvement, including:

  • High cost and inconsistent quality of shallot seed.
  • Unstainable shallot production practices.
  • Short storage period with high losses of consumption shallot and seed shallot.
  • Losing market share in the domestic market due to strong competition from cheap and year-round available Indian shallots.
  • Consumers like the Vinh Chau shallot, but are not aware about the heritage of Vinh Chau shallots and can only buy them a few months per year.

Based on the findings of the value chain analysis, a detailed action plan will be made to develop the shallot sector. Read more about our Soc Trang value chain analysis below or contact us for further information about this project.

Soc Trang Purple Onion value chain analysis

In Vietnam, the province of Soc Trang is famous for its purple onion. Since a few years, however, it is no longer the onion itself but the onion farmers which are grabbing headlines across the country. The onion sector is in trouble.

Background

Life is difficult for Soc Trang onion farmers at the best of times. Most onion farmers are among the poorest people in the country. Over the last years, their struggle is becoming even more desperate. Increasingly unpredictable rainfall has lowered yields and changing market conditions have created demand uncertainty. Each year thousands of tons of onion remain unsold. Soc Trang province is aware of the difficulties facing the sector and wants to provide support. It is motivated by the importance of purple onion for the province, in particular for the impoverished Khmer ethnic minority. Therefore, they want to implement a support program based on a thorough understanding of the current situation.

Approach

Fresh Studio was requested to support Soc Trang province in this process. In the first phase of the project, Fresh Studio will conduct a value chain analysis to critically assess the issues faced by different stakeholders and identify opportunities for improvement. A team of consultants from R&D, Sourcing, Quality Assurance, Business Development and Marketing will interview hundreds of stakeholders in Soc Trang and Ho Chi Minh City. Based on the findings of the value chain analysis, a detailed action plan will be made to develop the purple onion sector. The plan will be presented back to stakeholders from the sector, including input suppliers, farmers, traders, and buyers during a workshop. Based on their feedback, a final proposal will be developed and presented to Soc Trang province.

Expected outcome

There are few magic bullets in the world and it is unrealistic to expect that there exists a quick and easy solution to solve the problems the sector is currently facing. Instead, whatever solution will be identified will require hard work and sustained commitment from all stakeholders. Therefore, a decidedly interactive approach was chosen for this project. Throughout both the analysis and the proposal development phase the public and private sector are actively involved. Expert opinions will be used to trigger discussion and encourage out-of-the-box thinking, but at the end of the day, the only solution that works is a solution supported by all. Once such a solution has been identified, Soc Trang and Fresh Studio look forward to working together on its implementation.

Developing the first safe, traceable and sustainable pork value chain of Vietnam

Vissan, De Heus and Fresh Studio have formally signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish the first safe, traceable and sustainable pork value chain in Vietnam. The Ceremony was held on the 15th of August at the Vissan premises in HCMC.

The partnership between Vissan, De Heus and Fresh Studio has opened a united direction in the development strategy of the parties with the aim to bring to Vietnam safe and traceable pork products.

Accordingly, the parties will maximize their capability to establish a safe supply chain from farms, slaughterhouse to finished products and distributing to the market, in accordance with the TRACEPIG standards.

The “TRACEPIG” set of standards has been developed to guideline all parties involved in the production chain to follow a standardized procedure to obtain a high quality and safe pork. This is to answer growing concern of consumers about food safety, workers conditions, animal welfare and environmental protection.

All products will be labeled with traceable origin and do not contain chemical residues or pathogenic microorganisms that exceed the legal limits. Uniquely, all involved parties must also comply with the Animal Welfare module during the process of farming, transporting and slaughtering. In addition, TRACEPIG also integrate compliance with the Ethical Trading Initiative standard principles to ensure a fair working environment for all employees along the chain.

The following flow chart defines the roles of each party: 

Vissan is one of the leading enterprises in the food industry with specialization and business focus on production of chilled and frozen meat products, as well as processed foods from meat. With company strategic orientation is to approach the market through food quality and safety, Vissan has been implementing the closed process system in production, and continues to improve the efficiency and superior product quality. In addition, Vissan also actively cooperates with business partners and mobilizes the social resources to focus on the supply chain from production to processing as well as distribution.

DHFS – Safe Pork is a joint venture between De Heus LLC and Fresh Studio Innovations Asia to cooperate in creating the first safe and traceable value chain pork products in Vietnam. De Heus has over 100 years of experience worldwide in animal feed production and animal husbandry management. Meanwhile, Fresh Studio has possessed an insight and extensive experience in the fields of sourcing, market research and business development, and management and promotion of safe food products.

This signing event between Vissan and DHFS is the milestone for sustainable long-term cooperation between the three companies, in accordance with the Dutch – Vietnam subsidy cooperation program for farming, and it will contribute to the development of the food industry in particular and Vietnam agriculture in general.

Creation of a value chain for vegetables in North Vietnam

Urban consumers in North Vietnam encounter problems buying guaranteed safe vegetables especially during the hot and humid summer period in North Vietnam which starts in April and lasts until September.

Background

Temperatures and humidity are too high in the Red River Delta plains to produce the required range of vegetables and there is limited supply of vegetables from Dalat from April to September. Therefore markets in North Vietnam are flooded with vegetables imported from China. This concerns consumers and government regulators due to questionable food safety standards.

The rapid urbanization in Northern Vietnam combined with consumer demand for high quality and guaranteed safe vegetables, the long distance from Dalat to Hanoi (1,400 km) and the influx of Chinese vegetable imports, provides an opportunity to develop regional supply of safe vegetables for urban markets in North Vietnam.

Approach

Since 2010 Fresh Studio has been cooperating with METRO Cash & Carry Vietnam in North Vietnam to:

  • Provide small holder vegetable farmers with a direct linkage to modern trade
  • Diminish the negative environmental impacts of the current unsustainable horticulture production systems
  • Offer urban consumers guaranteed high quality and safe vegetables for a wide range of vegetables in large volumes

To develop year round supply of guaranteed high quality and safe vegetables from North Vietnam, Fresh Studio clustered small holder vegetable farmers in the lowlands of the Red River Delta, as well as the poorer and more remote farmers located in the mountains in the North. Using the climatic advantage of the cooler mountains in North Vietnam, a regional solution has been developed to supplement the vegetable supply from the Red River Delta during the summer period. This resulted in the possibility for METRO and other retailers to source high quality and safe vegetables year round from North Vietnam.

Outcome

At the end of the project, 6 farmer groups were developed, representing a total of 113 farmers across 3 sourcing areas: Dong Anh, Hai Duong and Moc Chau. All farmer groups achieved government food safety certification and were trained in the METRO Requirement standard. In addition to government certification 46 farmers received METRO Requirement certification. Out of the 36 vegetables selected as project assortment, 26 are now METRO Requirement certified.

Supply chain before intervention

  • Limited cooperation within the chain
  • Limited knowledge exchange between actors

Value chain after intervention

  • Good cooperation within the chain
  • Extensive knowledge exchange between actors

Recent developments in this project:

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