Promising public-private potato partnership

14:25 | 02/05/2017 Economy

(VEN) - Two years into a Dutch-financed project, Vietnam is making slow progress in developing potato varieties, growing them and creating a domestic market for them.  

Granting training certificates to farmers at the Dong Nguyen Cooperative in

Bac Ninh Province’s Tu Son District

The six-year public-private partnership to accelerate development of the Vietnamese potato was begun in 2014, in a bid to establish sustainable, high-quality production, reduce the almost total dependence on rice as a staple, and promote and meet domestic demand.

The project partners are the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fresh Studio Company, PepsiCo Foods Vietnam, Agrico Company and Wageningen University of the Netherlands.

As of March 2017, there were 10 potato varieties grown in the northern provinces of Vietnam and the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong. Some 1,690 farmers (70 percent of them are women) were trained in potato production techniques and in the use of imported machinery.

The project also connects farmers to businesses, and so far 350 sales contracts for locally grown potatoes have been signed. To accelerate marketing, a campaign to raise people’s awareness of potato production has been implemented. The campaign has had access to more than 200,000 buyers in urban Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. In addition, new policies on potato production have been formulated through meetings and conferences.

Potato harvest

Ha Dai Thang, chairman of the board of Dong Nguyen Agricultural Cooperative in Tu Son District, Bac Ninh Province, said Dutch companies will provide participating famers and businesses with new potato varieties, growing techniques, guidance on pesticide use and support in agricultural mechanization through potato growing and harvesting machines. To help sell potatoes, Fresh Studio has assisted in linking the Dong Nguyen Cooperative with the Thanh Ha Clean Vegetable Production Center. This center will buy all potatoes and sell them at supermarkets in Hanoi.

“Growing out of poverty with potato” has been chosen as a slogan to raise farmers’ awareness of the crop’s high yield potential and other benefits, especially in off-season rice growing periods.

Although potato consumption is still low, recent trade statistics clearly demonstrate that the Vietnamese potato sector is not able to produce sufficient potatoes to meet growing domestic demand.

Currently, potatoes are grown on nearly 40,000 hectares, with output of 440,000 tonnes, mostly in Red River Delta provinces (Bac Ninh and Nam Dinh) and in Lam Dong.

On a recent visit to Vietnam, Dutch Deputy Agriculture Minister Marjolijn Sonnema said, “As one of the biggest agricultural producers in the world, the Netherland hopes that our potato production techniques will assist the Vietnamese potato sector, improving local people’s incomes and their life.”