Home' Partners : Partners: Nutrition in agricultural research Contents Women working
wonders in Vietnam
Poor smallholder farmers in north-west Vietnam are proving they
can produce and sell commercial quantities of safe, nutritionally
rich vegetables given a little research and development support
address postharvest storage and transport
challenges, and develop marketing strategies
and supply chains to local, regional, urban and
(now, with a new project) international markets.
Farming innovations were identified by
working with groups of about 30 farmers in
six communes, with the groups composed
mainly of women. A broad range of production
issues were addressed, including soil nutrient
management, suitable trellis structures,
harvesting, storage and intercropping with, for
example, plum trees.
Research activities also addressed concerns
raised during consultations with representatives
from across the supply chain, including
collectors, wholesalers and retailers.
The findings were then collated into training
material and teaching resources that are being
made available to smallholder communities
more broadly, including through a popular
farmer learning tool—the farmer business school.
“ While some of this research was in response
to issues the farmers themselves raised, we
were also working to understand how to move
crop production to a more commercial scale,”
Dr Newman says. “So marketing was also a
strong focus of the project.”
Clean, green and safe
Experience across ACIAR programs has clearly
established that with the provision of some
R&D support, smallholders can develop their
production systems into small, dynamic
Running in favour of the north-western
vegetable producers is the perception within
Vietnam’s urban consumers that their produce
is clean, green, safe and healthy. As a result,
retailers in large cities, including Hanoi, are
prepared to work with farmers to get the
vegetables to market.
Vietnamese smallholder farmer preparing to sell bitter melon at market.
Chefs in sa Pa, north-western Vietnam, prepare dishes
using indigenous vegetables for public taste testing
as part of a marketing exercise undertaken within
an ACIAR project. Recipes were subsequently made
available on recipes cards provided with vegetables
sold at markets across Vietnam.
taro is one of six
in an ACIAR project
to help improve
and national health.
in bitter melon
“ We know that indigenous vegetables have
a niche market opportunity in that they fetch
a much higher price than your everyday
‘global’ vegetables,” Dr Newman says. “So there
is a real opportunity for the smallholders to
earn extra income.”
Concurrently, as word spreads to diversify
diets with meat and vegetables, opportunities
increase for farmers to incorporate nutritionally
rich and high-valued vegetables into existing
rice and horticultural systems.
“Many farming systems are in transition in
Vietnam,” Dr Newman says. “ With the fruit system,
for instance, there are opportunities to grow
vegetables as an intercrop but we want to ensure
this does not detract from a well-established and
lucrative production system, such as plums.”
Another issue the team wants to explore is
whether increased production of vegetables
is leading to increased consumption of
vegetables and improved health benefits.
“ There are still some malnutrition issues
in these areas, particularly with children and
stunting,” Dr Newman says. “So we want to look
more broadly and try to understand whether
there is a health benefit beside an economic
one to commercialising vegetable production.
“ To do that we are taking more of a systems
approach, including the whole farming system.
That lets us better understand how these
different production systems impact household
income and health.” n
aciar projects: agb/2006/112, agb/2012/059
more information: dr suzie newman, global food
studies, faculty of the professions, university
of adelaide, email@example.com,
and the Vietnam women’s union, 39 hang chuoi,
hanoi, Vietnam, +84 167 643 4799 (Vietnam)
PARTNERS Issue One 2014
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