Potential of cooperatives in organic farming development untapped

06:00 | 04/04/2020 Society

(VEN) - Vietnam considers organic agriculture an important potential direction in order to penetrate more deeply into the global farm produce market. In this regard, cooperatives play an important role in connecting farmers with markets.

potential of cooperatives in organic farming development untapped
Nguyen Tan Cong, Chairman of the Board at the Nam Yang Cooperative in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai’s Dak Doa District

Cooperatives connect farmers with markets

Founded in May 2018, the Hoang Nguyen Organic Agricultural, Trade and Services Cooperative in Dak Song District of the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong has 35 members growing organic pepper on a total area of about 200 hectares of land. The cooperative pursues sustainable, organic pepper production and creation of international standard products for both domestic and foreign markets. Hoang Nguyen established technical assistance and environmental control teams to help member producers follow standard production processes. The price of organic pepper is at least double that of conventional one, and organic pepper has stable markets.

In another Central Highlands province - Gia Lai, the Nam Yang Cooperative in Dak Doa District had its pepper certified as organic products by the Control Union Certifications in March 2019, and recognized as outstanding farm produce of the province. In its first organic pepper crop (2017-2018), the cooperative planted 1.5ha of organic pepper with USDA (US Department of Agriculture) and EU certifications, reaching an output of almost seven tonnes. The Viet Pepper Co., Ltd. purchased all seven tonnes for VND120,000/kg, double the price of conventional pepper product. In the 2018-2019 crop, the cooperative grew almost 16ha of organic pepper meeting USDA and EU standards, reaching an output of 60 tonnes, which were all purchased by the Viet Pepper Co., Ltd. and Son Ha Spices & Flavorings Co., Ltd.

Nguyen Tan Cong, Chairman of the Board at the Nam Yang Cooperative said the investment in organic production is no higher than that in conventional production but organic products can be sold at double the price. Nam Yang has planned to increase its pepper cultivation area to 20ha this year and develop intensive refining of pepper products.

potential of cooperatives in organic farming development untapped

Modest achievements

Dr. Le Duc Thinh, Director of the Economic Cooperation and Rural Development Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development says cooperatives play a crucial role in the development of organic pepper production in particular and organic agricultural production in general.

Cooperatives get farmers to shift from chemical-based agricultural production to organic agriculture, work with local authorities to restructure organic agricultural production areas, provide training and organic agricultural production services, and implement community monitoring activities or provide organic production certification services, chain-based production connectivity and organic product registration and branding, Thinh said.

However, the number of cooperatives involved in organic agricultural production remains small. There are more than 14,000 cooperatives, 40 cooperative alliances and more than 39,000 agricultural cooperative groups nationwide, only 300 of which are engaged in organic agricultural production. The number of organic pepper cooperatives can be counted on one hand. Dr. Le Duc Thinh said that apart from existing policies for cooperatives, it is necessary to have preferential policies and programs specifically designed for vocational training, including appropriate funding for vocational training, preferential land lease rates for organic agricultural cooperatives, and policies on planning organic agriculture development.

Professor Nguyen Hong Son, Director of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS) said that with its natural and social conditions, Vietnam will have opportunities to develop organic agriculture and high-value organic produce (including pepper) if the country choose the right products and product areas for development and target specific markets.

Vietnam exports more than 260,000 tonnes of vegetables and fruits worth almost US$15 million each year, mostly to France, Denmark, and Switzerland.

Nguyen Hanh