A sea of rice plantations is the stereotypical picture of Asian agriculture. However, there is plenty of room left for potatoes, both literally and figuratively. Two successful potato varieties have thus far been registered. The goal of the 'Growing out of poverty with potato' project is to make Vietnam more self-sufficient in potato production.
Registration of new potato varieties
Having completed the registration process for commercial sale successfully, the Rosagold and Markies potato varieties were recently approved in Vietnam.
Food security and safety are key national priorities in Vietnam. At present, rice production in the country represents a share of 94%. 'Potatoes grown and consumed in Vietnam could become a welcome supplement to farmers' incomes as well as citizen's diets.' A problem is that potatoes spark little enthusiasm among either producers or consumers. 'Also highlighting the demand side is a strong added value of our project. This approach ensures the involvement of both farmers and consumers in choosing the variety of seed potato to be imported from the Netherlands. Our food lab is developing potato recipes suited to the Vietnamese cuisine. We find that this strategy works really well.'
Successful chain approach
The resounding success of the project can be explained by the chain approach from cultivation and production to influencing consumer behaviour, in collaboration with the Dutch food consultancy Fresh Studio established in Vietnam, the Dutch Agrico cooperative, the crisp factory PepsiCo Vietnam and Wageningen University & Research (WUR). 'What's especially remarkable about this project is the emphasis on marketing and advertising', project supervisor Carmen Heinze explains.
Individual versus collective
The project will continue until the end of 2019. At that point, 2,500 farmers (of whom 70% female) will have received intensive training in potato production and contract farming, while potatoes are to yield a 50% increase in production and 60% in income. 'An individual party would never be able to reach those figures. All Dutch and Vietnamese partners desperately need one another to ensure the success of this project.'
The Facility for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security (Faciliteit Duurzaam Ondernemen en Voedselzekerheid, FDOV) is a scheme used by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to encourage public-private partnerships in the field of food security and private-sector development in developing countries. This scheme is administered by RVO.nl.