“It may sound strange to ask growers to help their competitors, but in the end the entire sector will benefit of it. By professionalising Vietnamese horticulture, the quality of the produce can be improved and the market as a whole grows. And that’s our final goal.” Speaking is Manuel Madani with VNU Asia Pacific. Yesterday, VNU hosted an event where the large scale producers (2000+ hectares plus) throughout Vietnam connected they were connected with cooperatives and technology suppliers like PRIVA, Richel, Rijk Zwaan and Signify Philips.
Small capital, lots of potential
Vietnam is a country with potential – that became clear to whomever visited the country for horticultural purposes in the last years. Technical suppliers and also the seed companies can count on a lot of interest from the Vietnamese growers that are willing to develop and invest. However, Vietnam is also a country in which companies have limited access to capital, which means that the market is not seizing its full potential.
Collaboration between large and small players = Leadership
Manuel explains how for example currently 60 percent of the market consists of dragon fruit growers. They produce this crop on an average acreage of 1 hectare in the open ground or in a foil greenhouse. “Only the large growers opt for products with a higher yield and higher value. The small growers do not dare to switch to tomatoes or strawberries, for example. They don’t have enough knowledge about these crops and the risks and costs are too high.”
"As a result, the difference between large growers and small companies is only growing," Manuel continues. “The big companies only go faster, whereas the rest is at the risk of staying behind. We want to change that. Vietnam has the potential to become an important horticultural player, but therefor is necessary that the smallholders participate as well through cooperatives. In the long term, everybody will benefit if this changes and if the top segment cooperates with the smaller companies.”
For that, the doors at the large companies must be opened – or at least opened a bit. That is what VNU wants to achieve. Together with the Dutch trade delegation who was traveling to Vietnam this week, GrowAsia, PSAV and AgriFuture, they organised the conference: "HortiFuture Vietnam" on Thursday 11 April to discuss the future of the market. “Among those present were major players such as Vineco, Pan Group and Unifarm. We ask them if they can work more together with the smallholder groups sharing proven know-how, so that Vietnam will soon become a large competitive horticultural country", says Manuel.
For example during the conference they were shown what achievements were possible with a simple greenhouse. “We explained to growers what kind of techniques are being introduced to the market and what they can mean for cultivation. In that way it also helps the suppliers. There is a whole range of opportunities to them. Irrigation systems, plastic greenhouse construction, substrates, varieties - really the basics materials for growing. And then there’s the post-harvest segment. The losses between harvest and retail (non-wetmarket) are high (up too 35%) and there are many opportunities to lower these. Hopefully we’ve shown these type of innovations aren’t only necessary within the next couple of years, but are also accessible to growers.”
HortiFuture identified the top 3 pathways to accelerate the emergence of a high tech, high value horticulture sector.
These pathways supported by 150 delegates:
a) Greater access to finance
b) Consumer and retailer awareness
c) National standards for quality and certification
Le Quoc Doanh, Vice Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam shared: “There is an urgent need for Vietnam's horticulture sector to adapt to climate change. I believe today's topic of "Future Technology, Today's vision," is extremely timely and relevant. I would like to call on the private sector to share technology in order to spur the sector’s development.”
Nguyen Ngoc Bao, President of Vietnam Cooperative Alliance Vietnam shared: “HortiFuture is a very good opportunity for Vietnamese cooperatives to link to markets and to learn from modern farming practices. It gives the VCA the opportunity to connect on customized innovations for the future”
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Vu Thu Giang