Economic Sector

Last updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2019


Enhancing Trust in Safe Food Supply Chains in Vietnam

Posted: Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Belgium Embassy, the Hanoi University for Public Health (HUPH), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) teamed up together to co-host the workshop “Scaling up the trust networks for food safety with small farmers’ in Hanoi.

The workshop was organised from one of the recommendations in the “Vietnam food safety risks management: Challenges and opportunities” report launched by the World Bank (WB) and its partners in March 2017 to assess food safety at national level, support and foster the management capacity of food safety risk assessment for specialised government agencies. According to the WB report, recognising the role and responsibility of agents/actors in food safety networks, particularly the role of small-scale production chains as well as accessing origins are important tasks needed to be done in the coming time.

According to the report, food safety is increasingly important to consumers as well as policymakers in Vietnam. The cost of food-borne illness treatment claims millions of US dollars loss each year in the country.

Furthermore, export food safety is very important. Vietnam is among the largest exporters of seafood, rice, cashew nuts and coffee in the world. However, the market is witnessing a growing competition in quality, the aspect that Vietnam needs to improve and promote. In general, food safety testing results in importing countries shows most food safety violations were found in fish products, followed by fruits and vegetables. The primary cause of food-borne illness comes from bacterial contamination, followed by residues of agricultural chemicals (antibiotics, pesticides and fungicides). Although Vietnam has strongly exported foods to other countries, reported cases have been quite stable in the past 11 years. This indicates that the quality of exported foods has improved.

On the production side, the report showed that smallholding production at the farm size provides a majority (about 80 per cent) of food consumed in Vietnam and the stocking density of livestock is increasing, particularly pig farming and leaf vegetable cultivation. Most foodstuffs (90 per cent) are sold in traditional retail markets but the purchasing power in supermarkets is also rising.

Also according to the WB report, Vietnam has made efforts and approaches to improve the safety of fresh foods.

Recent efforts include promulgating legal documents on food safety, integrating systemised supply chains, supporting retailers, connecting producers with traders; developing cooperation models to overcome scale and marketing challenges; following Vietnam Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) certified by a third party; Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) that have simplified requirements; community-based certification or the community directly monitors, inspects and certifies; and forming safe agricultural areas in certain regions. Small-scaled initial successes also indicate that these are actionable solutions for further future successes.

Mr Geert Vansintjan, Development Cooperation Officer of the Belgian Embassy in Vietnam, said that small farmer is one of very important actors in the network for food safety. In the developed countries, small farmers are always received attention from governments.

Remarking on cooperation potential between Vietnam and Belgium in this field, he said that food technology, food safety and food production are priority areas for Vietnam - Belgium partnership. Like Vietnam, Belgium prides itself on its quality of food and the quality of life. Moreover, Vietnam is a longstanding partner of food production and food technology: Collaboration in aquaculture with the University of Can Tho City for example; Vietnam-Belgium Food Network, a partnership between food technology faculties in Vietnamese and Belgian universities; and VECO - supporting smallholding farmers to make safe foods and build sustainable business relations.

In particular, Belgium attaches great importance not only to technological development but also to food production partnership development as it is part of culture and heritage.

Thu Ha

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