Smallholders’ farmers earned a higher income from certified vegetables thanks to a quality assurance system, compared to non-certified vegetables in Ha Nam, a province in northern Vietnam. Together with Rikolto, the Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Branch, under the Agriculture and Rural Development Department in the province, released a guidance – based on those findings - on how to set up a Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) for vegetable farmers in July 2021.
In the changing food systems, smallholder farmers in Vietnam who want to maintain access to urban markets face challenges to increase the quality and volume required by consumers and retailers while guaranteeing food safety regulations.
That´s why one of the main strategies of Rikolto´s programme is to set up and support the management of Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) with farmer organisations in five provinces, including Hanoi, Ha Nam, Phu Tho, Da Nang and Vinh Phuc.
On the one hand, the aim is to help vegetable farmers transition towards safe production methods, following the Basic Good Agricultural Practices (BasicGAP) standard recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. On the other hand, we support farmer organisations to function effectively and independently.
According to an efficiency assessment report on the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), conducted by the Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance department of the provincial Agriculture and Rural Development of Ha Nam in 2021, farmers increase their income from vegetable production using a PGS as compared to non-PGS certified vegetables and other crops. Famers in the Ha Nam province earn an average of USD 110 - 430 per month from safe vegetables and PGS organic vegetables, depending on the volume and season.
The report was conducted as part of the project "Building a sustainable vegetable value chain for smallholders in Ha Nam" implemented by Rikolto since 2017. Together with the provincial government of Ha Nam province, Rikolto run pilots in the horticultural farmer organisations Trac Van, Cat Lai and Thanh Son. During the winter of 2020, the farmers’ organisation applied the PGS system as an internal control tool when applying the GlobalGap standard for exported and certified cabbage in Cat Lai.
Another finding in the report is that most PGS models have stable sales contracts with retailers or company canteens. Today, Trac Van and Cat Lai's are supplying vegetables at the supermarket system in Hanoi and markets such as Tuyen Tuyen Company, TD Mart Company (Hai Duong), Phu Yen Cooperative (Hung Yen), Bao An Cooperative, and school canteens throughout the province.
At the launch event of the PGS manual, the provincial authorities of Ha Nam said that they will continue to support the scale-up of the model. The remark from the authorities was that environmental sustainability is ensured by complying with organic or GAP standards. Also, that farmers implementing PGS have more closely linked activities with the community.
During the current year, 2021, the application of the PGS system for quality management is planned to be implemented in more farmers’ organisations like Thanh Tan and Thanh Liem.