Thanks to the implementation of the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) – a safe and traceable production system promoted by Rikolto and the Hanoi PPD – around 3,200 households (of which 65% are women) are now participating in more than 1,900 hectares of safe vegetable production, accounting for 14% of Hanoi's vegetable production area. It is estimated that the PGS accounts for 140,000 tons of vegetables annually, and almost 2 million consumers in Hanoi now have access to these safe vegetables.
In the period 2018-2021, Rikolto and Hanoi Crop Production and Plant Protection Department (PPD) coordinated to implement the project ‘Applying the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) for safe vegetable production’ in Hanoi city, with DGD (the Belgian Directorate General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid) as the key donor. Dang Xa cooperative and 14 other cooperatives were supported to apply this model during the pilot phase and achieved encouraging results. During the working visit by Mr Fransen, the DGD representative, to Vietnam in November 2022, Hanoi PPD, Dang Xa Cooperative and Rikolto had the opportunity to present the results of this project to him.
Participants in the meeting included Mr Dam Trong Tuan, the Rikolto Representative in Vietnam, Ms Le Thi Kim Oanh, Deputy Head of the Cultivation Division from Hanoi PPD, Mr Nguyen Tuan Khanh, Director of Dang Xa Cooperative, Mr Nguyen Van Manh, Deputy Director of Dang Xa Cooperative, and the leaders of the production teams and some of the key farmers who participated in the project.
At the meeting, Ms Le Thi Kim Oanh presented the general context of vegetable production in Hanoi and the implementation phase of the project, including the pilot stages, process development, and increased application of PGS in vegetable production sites in Hanoi under this project.
Twenty-two of the thirty districts and towns in Hanoi practice agriculture, involving many producers. However, the general scale of production is fairly small, consisting mainly of small households with an average farming area of 0.1-0.2 hectares (ha) per household. This causes many difficulties in the management and supervision of food safety. To meet the increasing demand for clean food, fruit and vegetable producers need to strictly conform to recognised quality and safety standards. However, certification from third parties like VietGAP still has certain limitations, such as not covering all types of products, expensive certification costs, and short certification time-frames.
Ms Kim Oanh stated that: ‘We want to encourage other actors in the safe vegetable value chain to participate in quality supervision and build capacities to apply PGS. One outstanding result is the issuing of the Provisional Guidelines for PGS Implementation for Safe Vegetables in Hanoi City by the Hanoi Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. This document has helped management agencies, organisations and individuals to access, learn, and support the implementation of PGS.’
In the future, Hanoi PPD will continue to work with Rikolto to carry out activities to promote sustainable production and inclusive business, focussing on regenerative models.
Mr Nguyen Van Manh, the Deputy Director, in his presentation on the working session, spoke about how the members were guided on how to organise and operate PGS, such as supervision and internal inspection skills, and important skills such as advertising, connecting consumer markets, labelling systems, registering product codes, etc.
When it comes to the progress that the cooperative has made after implementing PGS, Mr Manh said: ‘After three years of implementation, 106 members have applied PGS in their production, double the number compared to 2018. The production areas in which PGS is applied increased from 8.4 ha in 2018 to 119.7 ha in 2021. Household income from vegetable production reached VND 300-400 million/ha/year thanks to the quality assurance system. The cooperative's vegetable and fruit products made their way into big retailers such as Big C, VINECO, etc., and Dang Xa Cooperative is one of the farmers' organisations providing safe and quality vegetables regularly and reliably to these distributors’.
Mr Fransen expressed his appreciation for the cooperation programme between Rikolto and Hanoi PPD for the implementation of the PGS model. He affirmed that: ‘This is an advantage in the local production of safe vegetables. Hopefully the PGS model will soon be expanded to other areas in Hanoi.’