Strategic Partnership of the Horticulture Innovations Center at Vietnam National Agriculture University

On 22 September 2022 a strategic partnership workshop in relation to the activities at the Horticulture Innovation Center (HIC) established at Vietnam National Agricultural University took place. The HIC was established as part of the Nuffic OKP project: Enhancing performance of the horticultural sector in North/central Vietnam: educational, cooperative and value chain development.

During the strategic workshop the current activities at the HIC were showcased and future activities and opportunities for collaboration were discussed amongst the participants.

As a project partner Mr. René van Rensen of Fresh Studio was pleased to present its vision on the challenges related to horticulture production in Vietnam and the importance of applied research & development to overcome these challenges.

Mr. René van Rensen of Fresh Studio speaking at the workshop

The project partners of the Nuffic OKP project: Enhancing performance of the horticultural sector in North/central Vietnam: educational, cooperative and value chain development are:

  • Vietnam National University of Agriculture
  • Wageningen University
  • HAS – University of applied sciences
  • Lentiz – Course & Consult
  • Agriterra
  • Fresh Studio Innovations Asia

Limgroup and Fresh Studio join forces in Vietnam

When you think of Vietnam you will probably not directly think of asparagus production, but asparagus production in Vietnam is on the raise. Increasing demand from local consumers and good prices, results in an increasing asparagus production area with currently several thousand hectares. In Vietnam the focus is on green asparagus, which is mainly used in stir fried dishes.

Although the market is growing, access to the best suitable asparagus varieties and knowledge how to get the best results is for most asparagus farmers still a challenge. This is something Limgroup and Fresh Studio realised and have seen as an opportunity to join forces. The business activities of Limgroup and Fresh Studio complement each other greatly and together they are very well positioned to support the Vietnamese asparagus farmers with asparagus production, while in the meantime also developing their own business.

Limgroup is an internationally active breeding company based in the Dutch town Horst. The company specialises in the crops asparagus and strawberries. Especially in the field of asparagus, Limgroup is a leading global player offering varieties for all climate zones and applications.

Fresh Studio is an international company with a strong focus on Vietnam and Myanmar providing consultancy services and technologies within the agricultural sector. We are dedicated to make a positive impact on sustainable food production, farmers lives and consumers enjoyment of food.

For more information contact:

John Schoeber

Marketing en Sales Director – Limgroup

René van Rensen

R&D Director Crops – Fresh Studio

Queen Máxima meets Vietnamese vegetable farmers to discuss access to financial services

On Tuesday, 30th of May 2017, Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, in her capacity of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate on Inclusive Finance for Development, made a field visit to the Horti Dalat project in Vietnam.

Queen Máxima visits Vietnam from Tuesday 30 May through Thursday 1 June. The country is developing a national strategy for inclusive finance to promote adequate, affordable and sustainable access to financial services. The strategy’s aim is to improve the economic position of the Vietnamese people and foster development. In Vietnam only 1/3 of the adult population has access to formal financial services. From people living in rural area’s 75% lack access. One of the themes of the visit is value chain finance in agriculture. After the field visit in Da Lat, Queen Máxima will return to Ho Chi Minh city for a meeting with representatives of agricultural businesses and civil society organisations about the financing of agricultural activities.

Within the framework of the Horti Dalat project new modern vegetable production technologies were introduced to local farmers. Through the development and introduction of a new type of financial product, interested farmers were able to apply for a loan to invest in these technologies. Through intensive coaching of the first pilot farmers by the consulting and R&D company named Fresh Studio, farmers have been successfully adopting these new technologies by increasing their production and income significantly.

The first six pilot vegetable farmers used the loan to invest in protected cultivation (greenhouses) and fertigation systems. These commercial loans are a new type of non-secured loan, which is disbursed to carefully selected experienced vegetables farmers, with a convincing business case and cash flow plan. This innovative financial product for the Dalat area was developed with support of the Rabobank Foundation and disbursed to the farmers through Sacombank. Fresh Studio provides the technical support to the farmers and monitors their financial performance to limit risks and to ensure farmers are successful with their investment.

During the field visit Queen Máxima discussed with the project farmers, Rabobank Foundation, Sacombank, the supermarket chain Mega Market and Fresh Studio about their experiences with access to finance in the Horti Dalat project.

René van Rensen, R&D Director Crops of Fresh Studio is delighted with the Queens’ visit: “Together with our project partners we are able to show the positive impact on farmer’s lives and sustainable farming through inclusive agribusiness and access to finance to invest. We are pleased to directly share our experiences and insights from this project with Queen Máxima. We hope this will be a valuable input for her further meetings in Vietnam to advocate inclusive finance services for farmers.”

In a personal talk with Queen Maxima, pilot farmer Mr. Toan explained how this new financial product allowed him to get a loan, without having to mortgage his land. As a result of this investment, he has been able to increase his income 3 to 4 times, and will be able earn his investment back within 3 years.

With the positive results of the Horti Dalat project, Rabobank Foundation and Sacombank agreed to expand their horticulture financing model to more Vietnamese farmers. Fresh Studio will assist Sacombank in the process of farmer selection, business planning, farm monitoring and training of the farmers in using the new technologies. To further upscale inclusive financial services for farmers to invest in modern horticulture production, Rabobank Foundation, Sacombank and Fresh Studio are exploring additional partnerships for cooperation with other parties and are optimistic that the visit of Queen Máxima will contribute to this.

The Horti Dalat project background

Modern vegetable production can provide a solution to meet the fast growing demand for year round available high quality, safe and sustainable produced vegetables. The region around Dalat City (Lam Dong Province) with its unique climate is the most important horticulture area of Vietnam, supplying the fast growing cities with fresh produce. Although quite some developments in horticulture production took place, especially in flower production, the vegetable production sector is still characterized by smallholders with little knowledge of modern vegetable production technologies, or the means to invest in these technologies.

A consortium under the lead of Fresh Studio joined forces with the aim to accelerate the development of a professional horticulture sector by:

  • Introducing and showcasing modern horticulture production technologies in order to obtain higher yield, better quality and a more sustainable production system.
  • Establishing a platform to facilitate practical training for students and persons working within the horticulture sector
  • Establishing a financial product to support investments in modern horticulture production by local farmers

The Horti Dalat project partners are: Wageningen University, Rabobank Foundation, Sacombank, BVB Substrates, CMF, Da Lat University, HAS Hogeschool Den Bosch, Koppert Biological Systems, Rijk Zwaan, Ludvig Svensson, YARA, Priva and Fresh Studio. The project is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Fresh Studio background

Fresh Studio is the leading agriculture consultancy and R&D firm of Vietnam and Myanmar. Our mission is to make our clients successful in the sustainable production and marketing of food. Since 2006, we have worked passionately to achieve this mission and assist our clients to improve all practices from farm to fork. With a professional international and multi-disciplinary team of 80 staff, five offices, one food lab, two R&D farms, we are playing an important role in professionalising the agriculture sector in the region.

For more information about Fresh Studio contact:

René van Rensen
R&D Director Crops – Fresh Studio®

5B, Lane 111, Xuan Dieu Street, Quang An Ward, Tay Ho District,
Hanoi, Vietnam

Phone: +84 (0)4 3759 1380

UNSGSA Office:

Dutch Horticulture Open House event: completion TF Horti Dalat project

The Transition Facility (TF) project “Accelerating the development of modern greenhouse vegetable production in Vietnam”, supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs started in 2014 in Lam Dong province. This project is coming to a close. To highlight the innovations introduced and celebrate the achievements a Dutch Horticulture Open House was organized at the R&D farm of Fresh Studio in Dalat.

The first ever Dutch Horticulture Open House was a huge success with over 300 attending farmers. Greenhouse technologies used within the project were exposed and demonstrated to farmers and project partners during the event. The Open House provided ample opportunities for networking and discussions. Also, the six pilot farmers, whom invested in imported greenhouses, were put into the spotlight.

The following results clearly show that this project contributed to the accelerated development of modern greenhouse production in Vietnam and has created a foundation to further introduce Dutch greenhouse technologies in Vietnam:

  • > 720 farmers trained in modern greenhouse production
  • 6 Modern greenhouse established with 6 pilot farmers
  • 4 vegetable brands created
  • 3 Training manuals developed
  • Successful commercial introduction of various new inputs
  • Next disbursement of loans of 300,000 EUR to invest in modern greenhouse production in preparation

These results would not have been achieved without the contribution and support of all the project partners. We are grateful for this cooperation and look forward to see you all during the next Horticulture Open House at our R&D farm in 2018.

Photo impression of Dutch Horticulture Open House

This development is a result of the collaboration with project:

Accelerating a modern greenhouse vegetable production sector

Modern greenhouse vegetable production can provide an innovative solution to meet the fast growing demand for high quality, safe and sustainable produced vegetables, which are year round available …

Dutch potato to help lift up Vietnamese agriculture

The Dutch Vice-Minister of Agriculture and local authorities of Bac Ninh province visited an event in the field of the project “Growing out of poverty with potato” in Tien Du district, Bac Ninh on the occasion of potato harvest and delivery of training certificates to participating farmers.

“Growing out of poverty with potato” is 5 year PPP (Public Private Partnership) project (2014-2019) between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Fresh Studio (local project management), Agrico, PepsiCo Vietnam and Dutch Wageningen University. With the objective of setting an example of a sustainable value chain for high quality potato in Vietnam, the project has been implemented for two years and has acquired promising achievements. The event is the result of commercial production trials for two Dutch potato varieties, Markies & Rosagold, before putting in mass production.

Potatoes provide an interesting opportunity to improve food security, support pro-poor development and boost a healthy, diverse diet in Vietnam. Despite being richer in fibre, vitamins, and minerals than rice or wheat, with the production requiring less water and land, production and consumption of potatoes in Vietnam are still very modest. Potato has also been proved a profitable addition to the current crops planted by small-scale farmers in Vietnam.

Siebe van Wijk, Managing Director of Fresh Studio stated during his presentation: “The 5-year project stimulates supply, fosters demand, develops the value chain and initiates a structural policy dialogue to support a sustainable potato sector in Vietnam. The project is successful when the Vietnamese potato sector can compete with imports and supplies of both the domestic table potato market and the potato processing industry with a consistent volume of high quality potatoes”.

On the supply side, the project focuses on testing high-yielding varieties, training farmers and production advisors. After two years the project obtained among others the following achievements:

  • 2 high quality potato varieties were selected to be introduced in Vietnamese market.
  • Purchase, test and introduction of tractors, planting and harvesting machines.
  • 27 production advisers and 1690 farmers (70% female) were trained in potato production.
  • Farmers and traders were connected during a series of field activities, after which more than 648 supply contracts were signed.
  • Nearly 1000,000 consumers in the urban areas of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city were reached during awareness campaigns (online and offline) on nutritional values of potatoes and preparation modes.
  • To understand the demand, preferences and behaviour of consumers, 1000 consumers participated in consumer research.
  • The Potato Policy Discussion Platform has been formed and active with regular meetings and policy workshops.

Speaking at the event, Marjolijn Sonnema, Dutch Vice Minister of Agriculture stated:“As one of the world’s biggest agricultural manufacturers, the Netherlands hopes that our expertise will help Vietnam in enhancing food security, promoting sustainable agricultural production, increasing farmers’ incomes, and improving their livelihoods”.

With a smart approach and dedicated implementing partners, it is positive that the project will be able to build a robust system for potato sector which can sustain and flourish even after the project finishes. And the day when Vietnamese potato can compete with imports, supplying effectively for the domestic market will be in vision.

Kick-off broiler training and opening Poultry Training Centre in Myanmar

Monday 6th of February was a milestone for the SAPA project. The first broiler training took place for 10 selected veterinarians. At the same time the first Poultry Training Center in Mandalay opened as part of the training.

One of the main components of the SAPA Project is the capacity building of farmers, both broiler farmers as corn farmers. Last Monday 6th of February two milestones of the SAPA project took place: firstly, the kick-off of the first broiler training for 10 selected veterinarians in Mandalay and secondly, this training took place at the first Poultry Training Centre (PTC) of Myanmar.

The PTC is built on the farm of broiler farmer U Win Hlaing, who was selected and eager to participate in SAPA to upgrade his existing farm into a PTC. This PTC will be used throughout the whole SAPA project to train veterinarians, broiler farmers and workers until 2020 on various topics related to broiler farming. The reason why this PTC is so special is because this is the first training centre on a broiler farm, where trainees receive theory and are immediately able to observe, reflect and apply the acquired knowledge into practice. In the coming months two more PTCs are opened: in NPT and Yangon.

Esther Wintraecke of Fresh Studio Myanmar.

The first broiler farmer training is a 10 day training for 10 selected veterinarians, who have the responsibility to train 750 broiler farmers and workers throughout the whole of Myanmar. The topics of this first training were: farm management and bio-security. In the coming year two additional training modules take place so that at the end of the training courses the veterinarians are certified SAPA-trainers. The topics addressed are: health, nutrition, housing, entrepreneurship and the broiler production standard.

As the opening of the PTC and the kick-off of the first broiler training are a very important milestone in the SAPA project, a special opening ceremony was organised with members of the Mandalay Livestock Federation and the deputy general of the LBVD (Livestock, Breeding and Veterinary Department) and the director of De Heus Myanmar and a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Read more about the SAPA Project

De Heus and Fresh Studio open Aquaculture R&D farm in Vietnam in Spring 2017

Dutch feed giant Royal De Heus Animal Nutrition is to strengthen its position in Vietnam’s aquaculture sector in 2017, with the opening of a new research facility in partnership with R&D and consultancy firm Fresh Studio.

The center – due to officially open in spring 2017 – will initially focus on developing knowledge of pangasius, tilapia, snakehead and shrimp feeds. The aim is to improve the feeding performance of these species, to maximize animal growth and limit wastage of resources, Fresh Studio’s managing director Siebe van Wijk told Undercurrent News.

We hope our work can improve efficiency, quality, and stability; that’s how we can start developing the whole supply chain, into a value chain.

Mr. Siebe van Wijk – Director Fresh Studio

Fresh Studio began its work in the horticulture sector in Vietnam, where one of the largest supermarket chains in the world contracted it to develop direct farmer sourcing systems, he said. To ensure farmers complied with the quality standards of Fresh Studio’s client, Fresh Studio developed an extension service and an R&D and demonstration farm. “Within a period of ten years the combination of applied research, extension and cooperation with a large number of technology companies, resulted in the successful introduction of value-adding innovations to thousands of farmers.

Indoors at the new center

Based on this success, Fresh Studio’s client retailer contracted it to develop the same sourcing system for aquaculture. While developing this sourcing system, Fresh Studio too saw the need for the same applied R&D approach in the aquaculture sector, said van Wijk. De Heus, which had just made its first investment in the fish feed sector, saw the same need, and the first partnership stages were formed.

De Heus first became active in Vietnam in 2008, and completed a new factory there in April 2016. Now, two years after the partnership formed, their six hectare facility in Vinh Long Province, Mekong Delta, has an operating, indoor recirculation aquaculture system. Work on the outdoor area is being completed currently.

From Fresh Studio’s presentation at the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge event

The R&D farm was funded through a public private partnership between De Heus, Fresh Studio and an R&D grant from the Dutch government. Links with science were made by involving Can Tho University and Wageningen University. For De Heus, this R&D facility should develop into a key innovation center for its aquaculture feed programs in other Southeast Asian nations, as well as important other fish feed markets, such as China, and Egypt. After one year of research on pangasius and tilapia, the facility is now moving into snakehead and shrimp, said van Wijk, and will branch out into feeding technology and “pure research” on feed, to “provide concrete solutions to farmers on improved feed management”.

The site, as seen from Google Maps

Presenting the initiative at the “Aquaculture Innovation Challenge” in Ho Chi Minh – organized by the Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal, Solidaridad, and Fresh Studio early in December – van Wijk noted that pangasius selling prices at retail were trending downwards, while production costs have risen over the past 16 years. Hence the need for research into feed; feed costs make up over 90% of pangasius farming, and 85% of the cost of producing tilapia too.

Aside from this, poor seed quality and disease outbreaks can also eat into profits for farmers, he noted. When it comes to FRCs, a slight improvement could mean a big difference to margins. Currently salmon’s average feed conversion ratio (FCR) is around 1.1, while pangasius is 1.5 and tilapia 2.6, according to data he presented.

“There’s certainly room for improvement to get a bit nearer that 1.1 mark for pangasius, and that would mean real savings.”

For instance, working on the basis of a pangasius maket price of VND 21,000 per kilogram, an FCR improvement from 1.5 to 1.2 could mean savings of 20%, or VND 4,050/kg, he said. In turn this could lead to an upward spiral of better products and higher yields, improving demand, and ultimately earning higher prices, Fresh Studio hopes.

From Fresh Studio’s presentation at the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge event

We expect indirect savings also. From the farm side, because less feed will be used per pond, less organic matters will be released into the ponds which should limit both the pumping costs to exchange water, and treatment costs to cure diseases.

From a market perspective, these improvements should be perceived positively, and may play a part in driving higher market prices in the long-term, it is hoped. By the time the official opening comes around, De Heus and Fresh Studio will announce collaborations with other key players in the aquaculture sector, who want their technologies and production systems tested and further improved, he said.


The Aquaculture Innovation Challenge successfully kicks-off in HCMC

Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal (STIP), Fresh Studio and Solidaridad successfully kicked off the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge on Tuesday, 6 December 2016, with an inspiring event to bridge the gap between innovators and impact investors in the aquaculture sector.

The kick-off event was honored to welcome Mr. Arie Veldhuizen – Agriculture Counsellor from Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands sharing with background information that lead to the mission of the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge (AIC): to find the bright minds and enabling them to realize their ambition by connecting them to finance and capital.

With the participation of representatives ranging from Vietnamese and foreign individuals, students, start-ups, project teams and companies working in the aquaculture sector, key information of the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge was fully released with the overview, categories and how to apply, the jury model and what participants can gain from the Challenge with selection criteria for the awards.

Joining the event, participants were also deeply inspired during different small group discussions and valuable presentations delivered by key-note speakers. All key-note speakers were selected on their diverse backgrounds (commercial bank, NGO, consultancy firm, successful start-up model) as a company or organization in the aquaculture sector.

Join the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge

The Challenge is now open for online and offline applications from 6 December 2016 until 18 February 2017. Finalists will be invited to an intensive business plan boot camp and pitching event in June 2017. The best business plans will be awarded a cash investment for initiating the business plan.

See in which category you can participate during the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge and apply for the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge.

Read more about the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge here: visit the website

Enhancing the capabilities of Vietnamese key-trainers in protected horticulture in South Vietnam

HollandDoor and Fresh Studio in collaboration with Nong Lam University organized the first training week of a 2 week practical training course to build the capacity of 20 key persons active in protected horticulture in the south of Vietnam.

The practical training course was held from 24 – 28 October at the Agricultural High Tech Park in Cu Chi. For this training week 3 greenhouse crops (tomato, melon and lettuce) were established as practical training locations.

The training deals with:

  1. Knowledge transfer and skills training in the field of market-oriented, sustainable (protected) cultivation
  2. Training on appropriate, practical training methods for farmers, engineers and students (including course and materials development)
  3. Training on the concept of knowledge sharing between farmers and sme’s (study groups)

During the first practical training week participants were trained by Jos Leeters, Geerten van der Lugt, Lo Xuan Dung and René van Rensen in:

  • Fertigation and irrigation strategies for greenhouse crops
  • Measuring and monitoring farm activities and greenhouse crops
  • Training methodology
  • Substrate characteristics and usage
  • Supply chain and market trends

Through presentations, practical exercises and group discussion the trainees gained valuable insights in these subjects and how to apply these within the local situation. The enthusiasm of both the trainers and trainees resulted not only in a very successful and but also enjoyable training week as can be seen in the photo impression of the training week.

This practical training course was offered with the financial support of EP Nuffic and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

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 …