City of Da Nang in Vietnam adopts a Food Smart City strategy

City of Da Nang in Vietnam adopts a Food Smart City strategy

28/03/2019
in News

On 22 March 2019, the City of Da Nang in central Vietnam adopted its Food Smart City development strategy for 2020-2030 with a vision towards 2045. The strategy is the outcome of a fruitful collaboration between Da Nang’s Food Safety Management Authority, Vietnam National University of Agriculture and Rikolto.

Da Nang and Rikolto’s journey towards a more sustainable, inclusive and smart food system started in 2017 when both parties signed a 5-year Memorandum of Understanding on Food Smart City development. At the time, the collaboration focused on the development of safe food value chains, raising consumers’ awareness of safe and sustainable food, and rolling out Participatory Guarantee Systems to guarantee the quality of safe vegetables.

In 2018, Vietnam National University of Agriculture and Rikolto were selected by Da Nang’s Food Safety Management Authority to conduct an analysis of Da Nang’s food system and policy environment, and to support the drafting of a food smart city strategy. As part of this assignment, three important food value chains were mapped: vegetables, pork and seafood. Together with Pr. Erik Mathijs from the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium, Rikolto was also involved in developing a strategic framework of what “Food Smart” can mean in the context of Da Nang. Based on the result from these mapping and conceptualisation exercises, three workshops were organised to discuss the strategic orientations and role division for the strategy with various stakeholders in the city.

The paragraphs below present some of the key insights shared by participants and introduce the seven pillars of Da Nang’s Food Smart Strategy.

On 12 March, Da Nang’s Food Safety Management Authority and Vietnam National University of Agriculture organized the workshop “Food Smart City development strategy for 2020-2025 with a vision towards 2030 in Da Nang”. The workshop was part of a project funded by the Vietnamese-Belgian Study and Consultancy Fund and aimed to present a first draft of the City’s Food Management Strategy for discussion with a wide range of stakeholders and experts.

Unleashing the potential of Da Nang as a food smart city

Being a national tourism and economic hub, Da Nang has many opportunities to transform its local food system towards more safety and sustainability. Visitors’ increasing demand for local food has the potential to create substantial job opportunities in the food industry, improving both food safety and economic development prospects in the city.

“With a population of around 1 million people and a long tradition of strong leadership and remarkable social and food security policies, Danang is the ideal city to implement and develop a food smart city project” says Dr. Thai Thi Minh, Regional Director of Rikolto in Vietnam. However, despite the city’s growing efforts to apply food safety monitoring procedures, local authorities are still struggling to ensure that all the food consumed in Da Nang is safe.

Da Nang lacks a comprehensive information system for food and doesn’t yet have an adequate governance structure to monitor food chains from farm to plate. Furthermore, many challenges remain to identify the origin of food and ensure proper food safety management in traditional and street food market

Dr. Thai Thi Minh Regional Director of Rikolto of Vietnam

Ms. Quach Thi Xuan, Head of the Urban Research Department of Danang’s Socio-Economic Research and Development Institute reports that 90% of the food consumed in Da Nang is imported from other provinces or from overseas. “In Da Nang, there´s a situation of both abundance and shortage of food. Local authorities should streamline procedures, improve chain linkages among agricultural cooperatives, and tighten controls of the origin of products. The shorter the path, the safer the food”, she says.

Mr. Bui Dung, Director of Tuy Loan Safe Vegetables Cooperative in Da Nang’s Hoa Vang agricultural district agrees:“For the past 7 years, 40 members of our cooperative have applied safe agricultural practices to cultivate vegetables on a 15 hectares area, but they are still struggling to find markets to sell their products at a fair price. We can only afford to certify 6 hectares out of 15. Therefore 60 % of our production ends up on the local market at a price 30% lower than when we sell to supermarkets. This is in complete contrast with the fact that Danang currently has to import a large quantity of food to cater for its own needs.”

Concerned consumers at the centre of the shift

Urban consumers are critical in driving the shift towards a more sustainable food system in Da Nang. Through their purchasing behaviour, they can influence the demand for safe food products and create incentives for producers, collectors, distributors and other chain actors to increase traceability, transparency and quality control throughout the food chain.

During the workshop, experts agreed that while various policies have been issued, people’s participation and engagement is limited. In that regard, Mr. Le Trung Chinh, Vice-Chairman of Da Nang’s People’s Committee – the City Council – stressed the importance of working closely with local authorities to raise the awareness of food producers, businesses and consumers on food safety (Phan Chung - Baodanang.vn)

Mr. Nguyen Tan Hai, the head of Da Nang’s Food Safety Management Authority (FSMA), the organiser of the event, shared that FSMA is developing a food safety database to enable consumers to track the origin of food products, give feedback and make informed purchasing choices (Phan Chung - Baodanang.vn)

Becoming smart is a process. It’s not something that can be achieved right after we’ve decided to do it. We expect that this project will lay a foundation for policy-making and food management guidance with consumers as the main focal point and food safety as the core issue

Nguyen Tan Hai Da Nang’s Food Safety Management Authority

Building international bridges for sustainable urban food systems

Charlotte Flechet, International Food Smart Cities Coordinator at Rikolto, shared experiences from “Gent en Garde” the food strategy adopted by the City of Ghent, Belgium, in 2013. While the contexts are largely different between Ghent and Da Nang, both cities share a similar interest in ensuring that safe and nutritious food is available to all pupils at school and in enabling urban consumers to more easily access healthy food produced by local farmers. Gent’s local food distribution platform Vanier, the programme GoodFood@School and the food sharing platform “FoodSavers Gent” were among the initiatives presented during the workshop.

Mr. Ivo Hooghe First secretary of the Belgian Embassy in Vietnam and board member of the Belgian-Vietnamese Study and Consultancy Fund underlined the importance of strengthening ties between Belgium and Vietnam: “This project in Da Nang is one of 10 bilateral development projects implemented between Belgium and Vietnam. It’s an opportunity to create a bridge between Vietnam and Belgian organisations, especially among universities and research institutes to build up a food smart city strategy.”

Through its international Food Smart Cities cluster, Rikolto aims to build bridges between cities across the globe who share a common interest in developing more sustainable urban food systems. Together with partners, Rikolto supports cities in implementing pilot activities related to food policy and governance, inclusive business models to strengthen rural/urban linkages, sustainable school catering, awareness-raising of consumers, and food safety. In addition, Rikolto supports cities to seize opportunities to participate in international learning and sharing exchanges on sustainable food systems.

A Food Smart City strategy built on 7 intervention pillars

On 22 March, the strategy and 2020-2025 action plans were adopted by Da Nang’s authorities, making it the first Vietnamese city equipped with a comprehensive food smart city agenda. The general objective of the strategy is that “Da Nang becomes a food smart city and works towards the development of a smart, sustainable and resilient food system to ensure a nutritious and diverse food supply, to provide high quality and safe food to consumers, to sustain long-term benefits for food producers and traders, to reduce the negative impacts on the environment, and to improve the resilience of the food system to the impacts of socio-economic crises, natural disasters, and climate change.”

To realise this vision, the strategy will focus on 7 intervention areas:

  • Completing the organizational structure of the food safety management system and improving capacity for food safety management
  • Developing and promoting innovation and technology for food management
  • Fostering a sustainable production and business culture and increasing the competitiveness of food system actors
  • Promoting sustainable value chain links through a focus on safe short food chains and organized supply from external provinces
  • Promoting the development of a safe food environment in traditional food outlets through the upgrading of traditional markets and street food stalls to ensure food safety while ensuring the livelihoods of small actors in the food system
  • Developing school education programmes on food safety and nutrition
  • Promoting information sharing and communication on food safety and food systems through improved data management and behaviour change communication.

The strategy and action plan are only the start of the journey. There is now a clear mandate for the different departments to put them in practice in the coming years!

Want to learn more about how Rikolto supports cities in their Food Smart City journey?

Have a look at our international project page