13:00 | 16/10/2020 Society
(VEN) - The Australian-funded ACIAR project and the “Community Livelihoods” Program launched by Central Retail Group is helping farmers increase their incomes and opening up opportunities for domestic clean agricultural products and Vietnamese products in general in the modern distribution system.
Vang A Sa, head of the Vang A Sa cooperative group in a safe vegetable growing area
Promoting off-season vegetables
In Son La Province, the H'Mong people of Bo Nhang 2 Village (Van Ho Commune, Van Ho District) are harvesting off-season vegetables these days such as cabbage, kohlrabi and tomatoes. The products are packed and transported to warehouses in Hung Yen Province, and distributed at BigC and GO! supermarkets in Hanoi.
Vang A Sa, the head of Vang A Sa cooperative group, says he started out growing traditional vegetables, such as French beans and squash on an area of 1,000 sq.m. However, due to outdated farming methods, the yield was low and the quality was poor. The produce was sold to traders at cheap prices, with almost no other market access.
Vang A Sa and five other households subsequently came up with an idea to establish a cooperative in order to produce high yield produce for the Hanoi market. In 2015, the Australia-funded ACIAR project was deployed by the Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute to support vegetable growing in Van Ho and Moc Chau districts.
The project provided general support packages ranging from technical instructions on growing vegetables to establishing cooperative groups, and linking production with consumption of safe vegetables. Dinh Thi Xoa, Director of a safe vegetable cooperative in Van Ho Commune says the project has provided consultation and training on organic production of staple vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbage, squash and French beans.
In September 2017, following initial positive results, the Central Retail Group cooperated with local authorities, foreign government organizations and non-governmental organizations to implement the “Community Livelihoods” program, attracting 39 local ethnic households (of the Muong, Thai, H’Mong minorities). The participants were counseled on market and production orientations, and trained to produce off-season safe vegetables, design labels, and professional packaging methods.
Vang A Sa says the support of the ACIAR project and “Community Livelihoods” program has helped bring the cooperative's products to distant markets, such as Hanoi, and greatly augmented family incomes to levels of VND7-8 million a month.
Nguyen Thi Phuong, Deputy General Director of the Central Retail Group says the program owes its success to cooperation among ACIAR scientists, Central Retail and the state. After three years, the “Community livelihoods” program has opened up market opportunities and introduced many changes into the lives of poor farmers in remote and border areas.
The Executive Board of the “Community Livelihoods” program visits a safe vegetable growing project in Van Ho Commune
Extending the project
From May to September every year, when large vegetable granaries in lowland provinces finish their crop of temperate vegetables, the off-season vegetables from Son La are more valuable. Peak cabbage prices from July to September may increase to VND13,000-14,000 per kg. Off-season tomatoes in particular have brought billions of Vietnamese dong per ha per year.
At a recent meeting between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Son La Provincial People's Committee, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh instructed MARD's units to work more closely with Son La Province to promote local projects, exploiting the potentials and advantages of vegetable production, especially off-season varieties.
The MARD has also agreed to extend the Australian government funded project until 2021 to further improve production capacity as well as value chains for vegetable granaries of Son La Province.
According to the provincial People's Committee, Son La's vegetable growing area had increased to nearly
9,600 hectares as of 2019 with output reaching more than 131,000 tonnes. Nearly 1,400 ha were certified as
adhering to VietGAP standards with 21 safe vegetable supply chains.