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Increasing confidence in the quality and safety of food in Vietnam

Food safety is currently one of the top public concerns in Vietnam. Food contamination incidents and an increase in food-borne illnesses have reduced consumer confidence in food quality and increased mistrust among value chain actors. , which significantly affects the production and consumption activities of small-scale farmers.

In an effort to improve the above situation, the Embassy of Belgium, the University of Public Health (HUPH), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have jointly organized the workshop "Increasing trust in the safe food supply network in small-scale production"' on July 4, 2017 at the University of Public Health, Hanoi.


Workshop participants (photo by Nguyen Thi Quynh Chi/ILRI)

The workshop aims to increase knowledge on food safety and explore resources to support safe food supply networks to enhance the capacity and empowerment of smallholders in the context of food safety. decrease in consumer confidence.

The workshop attracted the participation of about 80 delegates from state agencies, research institutes, universities, agencies in charge of food safety, international organizations, donors. , manufacturers, retailers, consumers and the media.

In her opening speech, Ms. Bui Thi Thu Ha, principal of HUPH emphasized that the current trend of globalization and increased competition is putting great pressure on smallholder farmers, requiring them to ensure product quality to meet the increasingly stringent requirements of the market.

GS. Dr. Bui Thi Thu Ha - Rector of the University of Public Health speaks at the workshop (photo: Nguyen Thi Quynh Chi/ILRI)

According to Mr. Nguyen Trung Kien (Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture), this trend is increasing in Vietnam due to the change in shopping habits of consumers, especially the emerging middle class. Consumers look to supermarkets and convenience stores in search of safer and better quality food. In fact, the number of supermarkets in Vietnam has increased dramatically over the past 10 years, from 47 supermarkets in 2007 to 1,035 in 2017.

In fact, smallholder farmers face many difficulties in meeting current food standards. Rural development expert Vo Thanh Son of the World Bank said that due to increasing demands from customers, small-scale farmers who want to consume products must comply with quality assurance standards. However, agricultural industry standards are often designed with large-scale producers in mind. An example is smallholder farmers who have difficulty accessing inputs because feed companies aim to supply products to large-scale farms. Furthermore, limited access to information technology also hinders the ability of smallholders to access market information.

At the workshop, grassroots civic organizations introduced a number of good models to enhance consumer confidence in smallholder products, such as the participatory guarantee system in the production of smallholder farmers. safe vegetable production (PGS). PGS is a quality control system developed by the International Federation for Organic Agricultural Reform. Stakeholders - especially manufacturers and consumers - are involved to ensure the quality of the product. PGS has a moderate cost, is suitable for smallholder farmers, is easy to apply and can attract the trust of consumers.

A discussion session at the workshop (photo by Nguyen Thi Quynh Chi/ILRI)

Mr. Nguyen Viet Hung, chief representative of ILRI in Southeast Asia, emphasized that Vietnam should consider applying the roadmap of developed countries, which focuses on expanding the supermarket system and gradually abolishing the market model. In the traditional market, it is advisable to consolidate small-scale production activities and the traditional market together with the expansion of the supermarket system and large-scale production.

In her closing speech, Ms. Jehanne Roccas, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Belgium in Vietnam said, "I believe that small-scale farmers in Vietnam are an integral part of Vietnamese culture. If they get the right support, they will adapt to the fourth industrial revolution Diversity and flexibility help small farmers adapt to a changing world ".

The workshop was an effort of the Food Safety Working Group in Vietnam, which included representatives of the Belgian and Canadian embassies in Vietnam, the Australian government, FAO, HUPH, ILRI and the World Bank, as well as the World Bank. other partners.

The theme of the workshop was based on one of the recommendations in the World Bank Report on the management of food safety risks in Vietnam: challenges and opportunities published by the World Bank in March. 2017.

Source: International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)