Minister Koenders opens Dutch embassy in Myanmar

On Wednesday (12 October) Minister Koenders (Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands) opened the Dutch embassy in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). An unique moment because everywhere else in the world the Dutch embassies are closing down or at least decreasing the number of staff. But in Myanmar a new Dutch embassy is being established.

Furthermore, this was the first Dutch political mission to the new Myanmar government. The last political elections in November 2015 were the first elections in 60 years in which the leading party (NLD: National League of Democracy) was democratically chosen by a majority of votes. After 60 years of military rule, and hardly any focus on the development of the country and the people, the current government has a very challenging task but certainly shows the mentality to succeed.

Only two months ago the first Dutch ambassador arrived in Yangon. This changed the economic mission of the Netherlands in Myanmar into a more ambitious mission which results in having a Dutch embassy present in Myanmar. Surely this indicates the potential of Myanmar in general, and specifically in trade and the water and agro-food sector.

During his 3-day visit to Myanmar Minister Koenders had meetings with the private sector in order to stimulate and strengthen the economic relationships between the Netherlands and Myanmar. This is also something he stressed several times during his speech at the opening of the embassy.

For SAPA, these are encouraging and beneficial developments: the establishment of the Dutch embassy in Myanmar; the continuous strengthening of the economic relationships between the Netherlands and Myanmar; and finally the focus on developing and improving the agriculture of the new government.

Read more about the SAPA project:

Improving food security and livelihoods in Myanmar

SAPA is a Public Private Partnership project in which strengths are combined of European companies and knowledge institutions and local NGO’s and knowledge institutes active in the poultry value to chain …

Vitalising the Vietnamese potato sector: read the results of year 2

How to achieve food security, improved nutrition and accelerate sustainable agriculture in Vietnam? How to increase the income of small scale farmers in Vietnam? 

The ‘Growing out of poverty with potato’ project aims to tackle this challenge and sets an example by creating a value chain for a high quality and sustainable potato production system in Vietnam. Since its launch in 2014, the ‘Growing out of poverty with potato’ project made a great deal of progress. The results up to March 2016:

In summary


  • Field trials with 5 high-yielding potato varieties were successfully completed.
  • Potato production enhancing equipment, like irrigation systems and machinery to plant and harvest potatoes was successfully tested.
  • 950 farmers (of which 70% female) received a training certificate after attending 3 potato training modules regarding potato production.
  • Training of 14 potato production advisors was completed. Potato production advisors will visit contract farmers at least once every two weeks to assist them in optimizing their production performance.


  • Over 200.000 consumers were reached through awareness campaigns in wet markets and supermarkets in Hanoi and HCMC.
  • 400 consumers were interviewed to get more insight in their potato preferences.
  • Food labs: 400 consumers participated in the sensory evaluation of potato varieties.
  • 50 households prepared 4 selected potato varieties at home and provided feedback per potato variety.

Supply chain development

  • 10 field days were organized and attended by 6 traders and over 350 farmers.
  • 353 farmers signed contracts with traders to deliver potatoes.

Policy development

  • 2 meetings were organized with the Potato Policy Discussion platform
  • In cooperation with all partners, Dutch embassy, Vietnamese authorities and research institutes a policy brief was completed with recommendations to strengthen the Vietnamese potato sector.

For more in-depth information about the progress in year 2 of the ‘Growing out of Poverty’ with potato project and projection to year 3 kindly download the full newsletter of Year 2 below:

Vitalising the Vietnamese potato sector

To reinforce potato production and boost potato consumption in Vietnam 3 companies and 1 institution with the aid of the Dutch government, joined forces to vitalise the Vietnamese potato sector as part of the project “Growing out of poverty with potato”.

Download the latest project results below:


Vietnam is one of the most rapidly developing economies in Southeast Asia, which culminated into the status of middle-income country in 2009. The associated urbanisation and transformation of agricultural land into industry and housing has put pressure on food provision. Despite the fact that there is currently no food shortage in Vietnam, food security is high on the national agenda and the country is essentially depending on rice- 94% of total arable land is rice production.

There is ample potential for the development of a professional potato sector in Vietnam. The tuber offers abundant opportunities to improve food security. Besides, it provides an addition income for farmers due to cultivation period in the rice off-season in North-Vietnam and high yield potential.

Although potato consumption is still low, recent trade statistics clearly demonstrate that the Vietnamese potato sector is not able to produce sufficient potatoes to meet this growing domestic demand. From an import level of fresh potatoes of just US$ 1.1 million in 2003, fresh potato imports expand to US$ 44.6 million in 2011 (UN COMTRADE statistics, 2012). The real figure will probably be double as high, as the large majority of imported potatoes are imported through the Chinese-Vietnamese border, and accurate data of this volume is not available.

Despite the fact that domestic potato demand is higher than local supply, to date potato has remained a low interest crop to both producers and consumers. The development of a professional potato sector is currently trapped in a vicious circle of low-interest – low quality produce: Most farmers are unaware of the economic potential of potato farming. They lack the knowledge on advanced cultivation techniques and good planting materials. Therewith the productivity is low and the disease pressure is high. As a consequence the market, both professional processing industry and end-consumers are met with an inconsistent volume and quality supply. Low yields for farmers and low quality to end-users keep potato in the low interest category.

But even despite being of limited interest, a small increase in per capita potato consumption results in steep rise in demand on a national level with a population approaching 90 million.


“Growing out of Poverty with potato” is a project of Fresh Studio, PepsiCo Food Vietnam, Agrico and Applied Plant Research-WUR and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands within the Facility for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security (FDOV).

To actually realise potato as an important crop for food security, pro-poor development and dietary improvements a holistic approach will be essential in which both the table and processing potato sector will be vitalised simultaneously. The processing potato sourcing is an important economic driver for sector development in terms of economy of scale, continuity and purchase certainty of the production. On the other hand the processing potato sector will benefit from a thriving table potato sector. A larger potato sector will in general result in higher quality production and more interest of farmers to start potato cultivation. Better quality production will result in better consumer appreciation and higher potato consumption levels.

Expected outcome

The desired result for this project is to make Vietnam more self-sufficient in potato production: to create a sustainable potato sector that is able to compete with Chinese imports and is able to supply the domestic table potato market and potato processing industry with a consistent volume and quality offer. The project aims to realise this by:

  • Meeting increasing demand with domestic production by realising larger volumes of better quality and prolonged shelf-life/storability for both processing and table potatoes. Therewith potato consumption contributes effectively to the national food security program of the Vietnam government; a sector of importance to be able to provide a staple alternative to rice.
  • Improved livelihoods through better economic inclusion of the poorest farmer communities through improved and stable income levels resulting from potato cultivation with better quality and higher yields.
  • Improved nutrition of (poor farmer) households; increased table potato consumption to decrease micronutrient deficiency in particular iron in order to diminish anaemia.
  • Increased potato consumption beyond chips and French fries, through increased awareness of the versatility and nutrition of table potato. To introduce table potato as a nutritious alternative to rice.
  • Adoption of new high quality Dutch cultivars in the Vietnam diet: table potatoes that are both different in external appearance and preparation qualities, ones that are more trusted and preferred than imported potatoes.
  • Environmental sustainability: reduce environment pressure and enlarge productivity in terms of both caloric as well as nutritional value per m2.

Newsletters developed by: Schuttelaar & Partners

Successful Zespri Event brings joy for young and old reaching over 3,000 visitors

Between the rainy days in Ho Chi Minh City Fresh Studio organized together with its client Zespri a special Consumer Event called ‘Wake Up with Zespri kiwifruit’ in one of the larger shopping malls in the city.

This event was organized to bring an interactive and pervasive Zespri brand experience to participants by entertaining and educative activities. The event reached over 3,000 visitors.

Interactive brand experience

During 1 whole day from 9 to 10 PM visitors of the AEON shopping mall could enjoy games such as basketball, sack jumping and puzzle games. The games were created for (1) entertainment and (2) to educate visitors of every age about the origin and the nutrition of New Zealand kiwi fruit.

The interactive brand experience was furthermore translated into a real-life orchard for visitors to experience, play and learn about how the Zespri kiwi fruit is grown in New Zealand.

Interested to organize a unique, entertaining and educative event for your brand? Liên hệ for more information!

Online brand activation

A special area was set up where people could take photos (read: selfies) with famous Zespri landmarks such as the New Zealand kiwi orchards and the giant kiwi fruit in Te Puke. Visitors created a buzz about Zespri online by sharing their photos on Facebook using hashtags such as #ZespriVN, #Zesprikiwifruit, #Zesprikiwi.


Besides games and photo areas the daily program included dance teams and several cooking shows on stage where kids were able to cook small dishes for their parents by the helping hand of a professional chef.

With Fresh Studio leading the Vietnamese campaign, the volume growth of Zespri in the Vietnamese market has been impressive. The marketing activities, such as this event, have significantly driven and contributed to the double-digit year-on-year sales growth since 2008.

Are you interested to organize a unique, entertaining and educative event for your company, your brand or any other purpose kindly contact us for more information!