On 27 and 28 March 2017, SNV co-hosted a two-day workshop titled ‘Organic Vietnam: Development Trends’ in Ca Mau city, southern Vietnam. The workshop brought together stakeholders from the Vietnamese organic agriculture and aquaculture sector to analyse current trends and challenges and discuss the way forward.

Over the past two decades, organic farming in Vietnam has expanded steadily, driven by increasing demands for safe and organic food by European as well as Vietnamese consumers. However, the sector still faces significant challenges which need to be addressed in order to ensure sustainable future growth. 

The workshop in Ca Mau was hosted by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) of Ca Mau Province, in collaboration with SNV, the German Development Agency (GIZ) and the organic certification agency Naturland. Around 100 participants attended the event, representing government agencies from national and subnational levels of 8 coastal provinces, private sector companies from across the Mekong Delta region, international organisations and farmers. The goal was to jointly contribute to developing an organic development declaration to strengthen the organic sector and its potential.

The two-day programme included presentations, discussion sessions and practical working groups focusing on organic markets challenges, policy issues, and technical issues of organic certification standards for agriculture and aquaculture products. Emphasis was placed on the need for the key stakeholder groups to work together towards common sustainability and economic objectives:

“The international support from GIZ, SNV and other organizations 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 in re-structuring the agriculture sector, strengthening value chains, enhancing climate smart production, and promoting agricultural commerce in the Mekong Delta”  ̶  Mr. Le Van Su, Vice Chairman of Ca Mau Provincial People’s Committee

Project Manager Thuy Nguyen presented a case example of inclusive business and sustainable integrated mangrove-shrimp farming through the project ‘Scaling up Mangrove Ecosystem Based Adaptation in the Mekong Delta’ (MAM2). This project is being implemented by SNV and IUCN, with funding from the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Environment Ministry (BMUB). The project aims to restore mangroves in coastal provinces in south Vietnam through building sustainable shrimp value chains, which enhance the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and bring business benefits to the companies involved. Through the project, 2000 farmers receive trainings and support to improve their production practices and achieve organic certification. Farmer and project beneficiary Nguyen Van Hung was present to share his experiences:

“Thanks to all the farm trainings and on job trainings we are now able to monitor the water quality of our shrimp ponds ourselves. For example, I learned to measure water salinity, pH and turbidity which is important to know when we prepare for stocking. We also learned how to calculate the optimum number of shrimp post-larvae we need to stock to improve productivity. My production has increased by 15% compared to previous years.”  

The workshop resulted in a set of recommendations for government policy makers to promote organic production, facilitate access to profitable and stable markets and protect the coast of the Mekong Delta.