Farm diary has been receiving attention not only from buyers but also responsible consumers. It is the first priority to be issued production unit code (PUC), so that the products produced on the farm can be exported.
On 8th February, Fresh Studio kicked off the “My Mango Farm Diary” contest to encourage farmer to document their production process in 10 partnered cooperatives. The contest aimed to create a habit for farmers to write what agro-chemical products they used, which can increase transparency, reliability and confidence for the end-users.
The contest received a warm welcome from cooperative leaders. They reckoned that writing farm production diary is the most challenging task; however, the GIC mango project motivates the growers through this contest and interesting rewards. At present, 242 farmers have signed up the contest. Tinh Thoi Cooperative (Dong Thap), Binh Hang Trung Cooperative (Dong Thap) and Cat Hoa Loc Hon Dat Cooperative (Kien Giang) are the top 3 having the highest number of participants.
Workshop – Anthracnose control
Besides the contest, how to use the agro-chemical products correctly and comply to the requirements of the market, Fresh Studio also collaborated with BASF – a German agro-chemical producer – to give a short talk on the control of anthracnose in the rainy season. BASF representatives also selected some farmers to make demonstration of their anthracnose control protocol so the farmers can see the efficacy by their own eyes.
From 8 to 11 November 2022 as part of the Mango Business School activities under the Green Innovation Centers for the agriculture and food sector (GIC) project: ‘Strengthening the Mango value chain in the Mekong River Delta’, project partners were trained in mango farming strategies related to efficient fertilizer application, pruning strategy, anthracnose control and irrigation strategy. The training was provided by experts from Can Tho University, Eurofins, Loc Troi and Fresh Studio.
All trainees were actively involved in the various training sessions
During the training, trainees learned how to prune branches to create canopy properly, the demand and calculation of soil nutrients, the reasons for soil and leaf tests, calculation the amount of water required for mango trees, determine the appropriate time to irrigate through smart devices, and identify, treat anthracnose. 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. They experienced what they learned on the day of practice in the demo farm. It was very exciting for them to practice measuring soil moisture through modern equipment such as tension meter, electric sensor and compared with manual method. They also practiced taking soil and leaf samples and performing pruning and anthracnose identification. Compared with the theoretical study in class, the practical day helps them understand the knowledge deeper and have the plan to apply these advanced techniques to their orchards in the near future.
About the project
GIC Vietnam is jointly implemented by Ministry of agriculture and rural development (MARD) and GIZ and funded by German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The project aims to promote sustainable Mango Value Chain in six provinces of the Mekong River Delta (MRD): Dong Thap, An Giang, Kien Giang, Can Tho, Hau Giang and Soc Trang by fostering innovations on mango value chains.
This project aims to increase the productivity and income of small-scale farming households, create new jobs and improve resilience of the mango value chains through implementation of climate-intelligent innovations.
The “Strengthening the Mango value chain in the Mekong Delta” project aims to enable stakeholders throughout the value chain to successfully implement identified innovations to enhance their business in terms of sustainability, climate chain resilience and profitability.
Agricultural production in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is of great national and global importance for current and future food security as well as rural income. It is threatened by the consequences of climate change and the unsustainable use of water and agrochemicals. The smallholders of the Mekong Delta region are not yet able to access existing and developing innovations to ensure their business and income are secure. There even more difficulties in ensuring their production methods are environmentally sustainable. Limited access to innovation limits sustainable rural development and improved food quality and security.
The Vietnam country package is a part of their global project “Green Innovation Centre (GIC) in the Agricultural and Food Sector” of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) special initiative “ONE WORLD without Hunger”. It is carried out in six central provinces of the Mekong Delta: An Giang, Dong Thap, Can Tho, Tien Giang, Hau Giang and Soc Trang. The main project objective is to provide rice and mango smallholders with access to sustainable innovations to increase income, employment and food quality. The “Strengthening the Mango value chain in the Mekong Delta” project is implemented under the Vietnam country package.
Vietnam produces about 800,000 tons of fresh mango annually, of which about 500,000 tons are produced in the Mekong Delta, this accounts for 45% of the national share of mango orchards. This puts Vietnam in fourteenth place globally in terms of volume of mango production. The majority of mango produced is consumed on the domestic market. 170,000 tons of mango are exported, of which, 94% is unbranded and traded across the Chinese border. The remaining share is exported to medium-high value markets in the Middle East, Russia, Asia-Pacific, and North America.
A more efficient, environmentally friendly and internationally competitive agricultural sector is required to improve exportation of mango products from Vietnam. Global and domestic demand for mango and other tropical fruits has increased due to a change in consumer diets and an increase in disposable income. Consumers are willing to pay premium prices for high quality fruits. This allows for the potential for uptake of innovation to improve the mango value chain and boost exports of fresh and value-added products.
This year’s main potato production season is coming to an end in Vietnam, and we can look back at a very good and successful season. Newly registered potato varieties of Agrico are showing excellent performance from the Central Highlands to the Red River Delta and Northern highlands. Farmers are very happy and eager to expand their potato production area for their next potato crop. Rene van Rensen (Managing Partner / R&D Director Crops) could see the latest results during his current visit to Vietnam.
Farmers in Son La (North Vietnam) are very happy with their potato crop and informed they never grew a potato variety with such good performance. Making the farmers even more happy is that they can sell their potatoes for a very good price. Especially when they see the cabbage prices at an all-time low this week (VND 1,000 per kg), the other main vegetable crop in Son La. With these good results they are eager to grow more potato next season and diversify their production from mainly growing cabbage.
Also in in the Red River Delta and the Central Highlands farmers are very satisfied with their potato crop this year. Of course with varieties from Agrico!
Good result with potato crop in the Red River Delta
These results are all spinoffs from the successful ProPoor potato project. One of the activities in the project was the testing, selection and official registration of these stronger, higher yielding and better-quality potato varieties. Besides the extensive field testing, Fresh Studio also tested with consumers which potato varieties they preferred. This to ensure a win-win in production and sales. The demand for potatoes in urban Vietnam is growing, mostly used as a “vegetable” in soups. Instead of importing fresh potatoes from other countries, potatoes offer farmers in Vietnam a good opportunity to increase their income. In 2001, Vietnam just imported fresh potatoes for a value of just US$ 0.3 mln . By 2019 this number had grown to US$ 108 mln and 120,000 tons (6,000 containers).
For more information regarding the project contact:
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.
End 2019 Fresh Studio together with the project consortium Applied Horticulture Research, Royal Brinkman, BVB-Substrates, Semillas Fito and Gautier Semences started to identify 13 female farmers willing to investment in a plant nursery or vegetable production greenhouse in Son La province.
This was not an easy task as greenhouse production is relatively new in Son La province, but in 2019 5 female farmers had enough trust to join the project and the first plant nurseries and greenhouses were established. These plant nurseries and greenhouses were very well received and with their quality and design set a new standard. The first build nurseries and greenhouses in combination with the technical support by our local team of agronomist made it easier to earn the trust of more female farmers to join the project and invest themselves in a plant nursery or vegetable production greenhouse.
Today the project objective of realizing 8 plant nurseries and 5 vegetable production greenhouses has been realized with the final construction work completed. The work of the project now continues in the coming weeks, with training of farmers, field days to share knowledge and technologies and continues coaching and technical support through our local team or agronomists based in Moc Chau and Hanoi. Rene van Rensen – Managing Partner / R&D Director crops was able to visit all location during is recent visit to Moc Chau, Van Ho and Mai Son.
Rene van Rensen: “It is really exciting to see how dedicated and proud the nursery and greenhouse owners are to produce seedlings and vegetables. It makes me very proud to see the progress they are making to work in a professional way and our team of Fresh Studio to realize all successfully! We can see already the positive impact this project has on developing a professional horticulture sector in Son La province in which women are in the lead. ”
Through the plant nurseries local farmers have now access to high quality seedlings and improved and new varieties and through the vegetable production greenhouses local farmers learn how to extend their production season, produce vegetables they could not grow before, increase the yield and quality of their crops all in compliance with VietGAP to ensure food safety.
It gives us great pride to make knowledge and technologies available for the farmers in Son La so they have a bright future ahead!
For more information regarding the project contact:
It might not seem like a big greenhouse that was opened this week in Son La, Vietnam, but it is the start of something bigger. The greenhouse is the first of 13 being opened in the region as part of a social project and, if it’s up to Rene van Rensen with Fresh Studio, the first of many more in the future. “The area is very well suited for a large horticultural presence, if you look at the climate and the people of the region, but it needs time.”
Thirteen greenhouses Take a breath and read. “Sowing a bright future for economic development and women’s empowerment in Son La province, Vietnam through high-quality seedlings and greenhouse vegetables.” That’s the name of the project the new greenhouse is part of and which was developed and is managed by Fresh Studio. In total thirteen greenhouses are going to be built for the project in the coming months: Eight will be nurseries, and five will be for vegetable production.
This first one is meant for growing vegetables. In the coming weeks, the first cultivation will be starting in the greenhouse. “In the beginning, we will be cultivating the crops that do well in colder circumstances, such as: lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and potentially squash,” Rene says. “Later on we will also start cultivating fruit crops like tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers. What we can cultivate is obviously dependent on the climate, we have to figure out at what time of the season it is possible to grow which crops, but also on the demand from the market. For the seeds with Semillas Fito and Pop Vriend Seeds we have two excellent project partners to supply the right varieties. And with Royal Brinkman and BVB Substrates we have the right partners to supply all greenhouse technologies the growers will need. And Applied Horticulture Research from Australia will provide training and technical support as a project partner.”
Next week the first nursery of the project will be completed, according to Rene a very important part of the project. “In this region, there are no professional propagators, so in reality, they are growing from one step behind. By setting up these nurseries and training growers to propagate, you can reach thousands of growers. One greenhouse will help one family and the people that work in the greenhouse, one nursery could potentially help one hundred growers get high quality seedlings,” he says. “Nurseries have a larger reach, and a larger positive impact on the growing market. You have to begin at the foundation, which is good quality seedlings.”
And that’s exactly what the goal of the program is: to reach hundreds of growers and have a positive impact on their lives and careers. That’s also part of the vision of Fresh Studio. The Vietnamese company has been active in consultancy for the Vietnamese horticultural industry and supports hundreds of growers in the country.
GREAT The project is part of the Australian government initiative Aus4equality, and is affectionately referred to as “GREAT”: Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism. The program is focused on developing local economies, as well as specifically helping women develop themselves further.
Local production The GREAT project is specifically focusing on the northern area of Vietnam, because local production is in very high demand in this area. “One of the reasons to grow in these areas is that during the summer, when it’s around 30°C to 40°C in the areas surrounding Hanoi, the Delta will be filled with rice and there is a lack of vegetable production in the Hanoi area,” says Rene. “So vegetables are sent to Hanoi from China or Da Lat, but even from Da Lat it’s still two days of travel to get to Hanoi. But here in the highlands, the climate during the summer is perfectly suited for vegetable growing. About 8 million people live in Hanoi, so you can grow plenty of vegetables for that market during the summer.”
Greenhouses True to the spirit of the project the greenhouses are being built by a local greenhouse builder, Lam Da. Lam Da and Fresh Studio looked at designs for the greenhouse together. “Ultimately we landed on the Umbrella Vent type, which is well suited for the local climate conditions,” Rene says. “The gutter height is 4.5 meters, so the top will be 8 meters high in order to make sure there is enough volume to realize a good climate.”
The film for the greenhouses is supplied by Agripolyane in France and is called Celloclim. One of the special features of this greenhouse film is that it has a cooling effect due to the bubbles inside the film. This ensures that the greenhouse stays cool when it is too warm outside. On top of that, the film is very diffuse which is especially beneficial for fruit crops as it results in much better penetration of sunlight.
Help Fresh Studio will continue to support the growers during cultivation, and guide them throughout the next two years. “We are also looking at introducing new products with more added value, such as cherry or cluster tomatoes, during this time,” says Rene. “Although we have a lot of experience related to greenhouse production in Lam Dong province, we have never done something like this in North Vietnam, so this is kind of a challenge. We have to see which varieties work in these particular conditions, but finding the right variety is also the fun part of the work.”
However, after the project comes to an end, Fresh Studio will continue supporting the growers in Sơn La, but on a commercial basis. “This is a nice part of such a project, you can use it to figure out a lot of things and educate and coach local growers,” says Rene. “First you set up a pilot, and afterwards you can upscale and let it continue on a commercial basis. In the end seedling and vegetable production has to be self-sufficient. We have realised this with other projects as well, so I’m sure we will succeed again to realise this.”
Fresh Studio is pleased to announce that it will support 13 female farmers in Son La province, Vietnam to establish 5 vegetable production greenhouses and 8 seedling production nurseries as part of the project: “Sowing a bright future for economic development and women’s empowerment in Son La through high-quality seedlings and greenhouse vegetables. This project is part of the Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture & Tourism (GREAT) program funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Fresh Studio started working in the mountainous Northern Vietnam province Son La in 2007 with the ambition to create in Moc Chau district a vegetable production area which can supply urban Hanoi during the hot summer months when vegetable production in the surrounding Red River Delta is practically impossible for temperate vegetables.
Since then Fresh Studio continued to work as part of various projects to develop vegetable production in Son La province, especially in Moc Chau and Van Ho Districts. Currently Fresh Studio is working in this area in close collaboration with Applied Horticulture Research and Nomafsi further develop vegetable production as part of the ACIAR project: “Improving livelihoods in Myanmar and Vietnam through vegetable value chains“.
This project led already to some great achievements, including direct linkage of local farmers groups with modern retailers, woman empowerment, introduction of new varieties and better production technologies, VietGAP certification and increased farmer incomes to mentioned a few.
Still room for improvement
There are still points to improve the vegetable supply chain from Son La province. One point is that farmers don’t have access to high quality seedlings and another point for improvement is that farmers have limited access to modern greenhouse production technologies and cultivation advice. We even see that the wrong greenhouse production technologies are introduced, which result in very poor results.
Therefore, we are very pleased that in the coming 2 and half year we can directly work to improve these points within our project under the GREAT program. What makes this program literally really great is that it actively targets to empower ethnic minority women to take up a larger role in the vegetable production supply chain.”
The ACIAR project ”Improving livelihoods in Myanmar and Vietnam through vegetable value chains” has proven that the production of vegetables diversifies and greatly increases farmer’s income in Moc Chau and Van Ho. Furthermore, through vegetable production women and ethnic minorities can be involved in vegetable production value chains. Under this project a first small nursery has been established in Van Ho. Results of this nursery prove the added value of good quality seedlings. In Lam Dong province which is the main temperate vegetable production area of Vietnam basically all vegetables are planted as seedling and farmers buy seedling from nurseries.
In Lam Dong province there is already over 4,000 ha. of greenhouse production and first greenhouse production trials in Son La province have proven that greenhouse production is also possible in Son La province and provides a lot of benefits. Establishing a high quality seedling production sector linked with improved (greenhouse) vegetable production technologies will create a lot of value for local farmers in Son La province and empower ethnic women to participate and benefit from these value chains.
Direct knowledge development
Through training, field days, direct extension services and enabling 13 female farmers to invest in 5 vegetable production greenhouses and 8 seedling production nurseries this project will provide access to technologies and knowledge enabling households and particularly women to connect and participate in the vegetable production value chain. With Fresh Studio’s extensive experience in developing horticulture value chains in Vietnam, experience in Son La province and through our partners we are very confident to realize these objective’s.
This project will be implemented by an international consortium consisting of: Applied Horticulture Research, BvB-Substrates, Semillas Fito, Pop Vriend Seeds, Royal Brinkman and Fresh Studio.
The first project activities have started, and the first farmers have registered to establish a greenhouse or nursery. In the coming months we look forward updating you on the project results.
For more information regarding the consortium members see:
Following the growth of the horticultural industry in Vietnam, the team of Fresh Studio is expanding their consulting services by offering growers horticultural technologies as well. “We focus on technologies, which growers can directly use in their current production system. For example seeds, substrate, greenhouse film. In combination with an experienced team providing technical support we assist growers to be more successful in their production through these technologies”, Rene van Rensen with Fresh Studio explains. “Without the right base set of products and technical support, growing remains an uphill battle.”
High demand for knowledge
Last week, during the HortEx exhibition in Vietnam, there wasn’t a quiet moment for the team with Fresh Studio. The Vietnamese company has been active in consultancy for the Vietnamese horticultural industry and supports hundreds of growers in the country. Last year the Fresh Academy was established to help them do so: offering practical training for Vietnamese trainers helps expand horticultural knowledge throughout the industry rapidly. According to Rene, the demand for development, knowledge and support is high amongst Vietnamese growers.
Horticulture developing fast
“Horticulture in Vietnam is developing fast. Growers are eager to learn and to develop their skills”, Rene says. “This goes for the Dalat region, famous for its horticulture, as well as other regions like Moc Chau in the north of the country, where we’ve recently opened a new office.”
He continues: “All over Vietnam and in nearby countries, the demand for fresh produce is growing, but for safe and sustainable production there is still room for improvement. Luckily the Vietnamese government supports the industry and is eager to develop “high-tech” greenhouse production. Also through project initiatives taken to further develop the sector.”
For example, later this year Fresh Studio will help in establishing 8 nurseries in the province Son La. “Through this project farmers in Son La will get access to high quality seedlings helping growers to get a better crop performance. A great aspect of this project is that all nurseries will be managed by local female growers, as gender inclusiveness is an important objective of the project.“
Demand for supporting materials
Following these market developments, also the demand for better crop supporting materials is on the rise. “Growers willing to invest start with the base materials: Varieties, substrate, a greenhouse & film. If this base isn’t set properly, it will remain difficult to grow.”
Therefore Fresh Studio extended their consultancy activities and are now also offering growing solutions. The current assortment includes varieties (Semillas Fito, Pop Vriend Seeds, Agrico), substrates (BVB Substrates), biological crop protection (Koppert), greenhouse films (Agripolyane) and the products of Royal Brinkman.
Affordable and directly applicable
In the Vietnamese market growers don’t have much capital available, Rene explains. “We’ve chosen to focus on products that are of direct use to growers. These products are affordable and directly applicable, showing the benefits for the crop immediately.” “An imported greenhouse will certainly give a grower a better crop performance, but only if the grower makes sure he uses the right inputs for all growing aspects and has sufficient knowledge and management skills. We often see that growers still struggle with this and are not able to grasp the full potential of a crop. Therefore the market for investments in advance hardware are still limited. We don’t focus on this and are happy to refer interested growers to providers of these technologies, which we know.”
The products are tested and demonstrated at the Fresh Studio R&D farm in Dalat, a 1.1 hectare farm consisting of 4 greenhouses and open field production. “In our new activities, it’s not just about sales, it’s about offering a trusted solution to the growers”, Rene explains. “We’ve tested the products ourselves and know they’re from reliable suppliers. And we continue to combine this offer with our consultancy services, to support growers throughout the cultivation.” Consultation & crop support remain the most important services of the company. New in the field of services is the cooperation with Groen Agro Control, a Dutch laboratory, Fresh Studio makes it possible for growers to have their samples sent to the Netherlands and tested there. Apart from being more affordable and trustworthy, Rene explains the importance of the advice being offered with the test results. “Measuring an EC or a pH isn’t enough if you want to know how to adjust your fertilizer application. With the increasing acreage grown on hydroponics, advice on fertilizer application is becoming more important. So we are glad to start this service together with Groen Agro Control as it enables us also to better support the growers in Vietnam regardless of whether they buy our technologies or from others.”
Since its launch in 2014, the ‘Growing out of poverty with potato’ project made a great deal of progress to develop the potato sector in Vietnam and we are pleased to share the results of the 4th project year. With the launch of the new potato campaign Gia Dinh Ha Lan with the slogan: “Born in the Netherlands grown in Vietnam” the introduction of Dutch potato varieties in Vietnam entered the next phase.Goi
During the 4th project year the focus of the project activities shifted further to support the commercial introduction of the potato varieties Rosagold and Markies as both varieties neared the requirements to complete the registration process for commercial introduction in Vietnam. To support the market introduction the marketing and branding campaign related to Dutch potato varieties was updated after further consumer research and feedback on the materials developed. With the launch of the brand Gia Dinh Ha Lan the commercial introduction Markies and Rosagold can be further supported with marketing and branding activities, materials and media.
Looking already beyond the project time line, for 4 more potato varieties the start of the registration process for commercial introduction was made, based on good trial results. Increasing the portfolio of potato varieties available for Vietnamese farmers will further support the development of the potato sector in Vietnam and contribute to the long-term impact of the project.
Please find below a summary of some major project results or activities during the 4th project year. For more information please find the full annual project report through the link below: