The two-day event was also co-organized by the German Development Cooperation, Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Naturland - Association for Organic Farming and Saigon Co.op, aiming to jointly develop an organic development declaration to jointly strengthen the organic sector and its potential.
Since its start in 1999, based mainly on joint Vietnamese-European projects and initiatives, organic farming in Vietnam has developed positively. An important driver has been the increasing demand for organic seafood by European retailers. In addition, there is a growing demand for safe and organic foods by Vietnamese consumers as well. Despite an economic rapid growth, stabilization of the Vietnamese organic sector all along the value chain will be essential to foster future growth.
The Vietnamese agriculture and aquaculture are among the key production sectors, which have been growing substantially over the last two decades. However, a key challenge the sector faces, is meeting the demands of export markets for high quality, safe, clean and especially organic products.
International customers expect a very high quality of Vietnamese shrimp and other products, through time, they trend to go to green food, of which organic products are more prioritized”, said Dr. Christian Henckes, Programme Director of the Integrated Coastal Management Programme (ICMP) implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German and Australian Government .
“The government, private companies and farmers all have to work together to meet these standards – without harming the environment”, Dr Hencknes noted.
There is a high potential for organic production in Vietnam, however the sector is still facing a lot of challenges. Especially market demand and farming practices need to be improved. How to promote green production remains the key question.
“The international support from GIZ, SNV and other organization for the sustainable development of the sector are really important, while the role of private sector is a decisive factor to support the Vietnamese Government urging for re-structuring the agriculture sector towards strengthening value chain improvement and climate smart production, as well as promoting agriculture commerce in the Mekong Delta”, stated by Mr. Le Van Su, Vice Chairman of Ca Mau Provincial People’s Committee at his opening remark.
Mr Su emphasized that green growth is a very high priority for the development in Ca Mau, since Ca Mau has an advantage of natural mangroves, Ca Mau’s policy is to encourage the private sector and farmers towards sustainable production, with organic production being among the key measures.
Ca Mau Shrimp currently had large areas certified by Naturland, EU organics and different standards which contribute to increasing the benefit and value for producers in particular and economic development in general.
The Mekong Delta is also supported by the Scaling up Mangrove Ecosystem Based Adaptation in the Mekong Delta (MAM2) that is one of the granted projects of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) implemented by SNV in Ca Mau and IUCN in Tra Vinh and Ben Tre.
The MAM2 has aimed to restore mangroves through building inclusive business and sustainable shrimp value chains in coastal provinces. There are 2,000 smallholders and four companies involved. A pilot payment for mangrove ecosystem services is in place (Decision 111/PPC of Ca Mau, 2016).
An old farmer, hamlet leader in Nhung Mien said “With all farm trainings and on-the-job trainings of the project, we’re able to monitor water quality of our shrimp ponds by ourselves at home, such as, I can measure salinity, pH, and turbidity to prepare for stocking. We deeply understood about how important of not to stock too many post larvae (PL)… I got more than 15% to compare to average year before”.
In addition, 550 farmers got certified by Naturland already and received payments for forest ecosystem services from the company every year.
For the market, Sai Gon Co.op is one of the biggest retailers in Vietnam that is committed to set up a part of their business to stabilize the organic sector and to foster future growth, by a series of interconnected activities at all levels of the supply chain.
The workshop received many positive comments from over 80 participants from Government agencies, private sector, international organisations and farmers. It was affirmed that organic production will be the green way forward which can bring a higher value to Vietnamese products globally, such organic tiger shrimp, and help to protect the coast of the Mekong Delta.