Friday, 15 June 2012

Building markets for Vietnamese indigenous vegetables

Armed with a Masters degree in agricultural business from the University of Adelaide, Rebecca McBride recently spent 12 months working in north-west Vietnam as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development.

Rebecca was engaged as an agricultural marketing officer on an ACIAR project that is helping women from often poor families in the north-west highlands to grow and market local indigenous vegetables in rapidly transforming markets.

“The project’s aim is to help the farmers get higher market prices than are received for the usual vegetables grown in competition with other local producers and imported goods,” Rebecca said.
“The focus is on six crops, including four leafy greens, a taro variety and a bitter melon variety that are very nutritious and also valued for their medicinal qualities.
“The project is taking a whole of chain approach from production right through to consumer and marketing, so I worked on the marketing strategies, reviewed marketing research and contributed to a number of marketing-related events.

“We did some consumer research, including tasting days of the indigenous vegetables versus conventional varieties, and tested the taste of the vegetables at different growth stages, so we could find out when it was best to pick them.

“A restaurant challenge in the tourist town of Sapa was run with seven restaurants that created dishes using the vegetables from the area.  People came off the street and tasted the food, and we tallied up the votes,” Rebecca said.

“Another aspect is helping the women with safe vegetable production through training on ways to reduce chemicals use, or using chemicals at the right time, because food safety is fast becoming highly valued by Vietnamese consumers, particularly in urban high-end markets.

“A key partner in the ACIAR project is the Vietnam Women’s Union which is incredibly organised and has a huge member network, particularly in rural areas.

“The help provided by ACIAR project leaders Dr Suzie Newman of the NSW DPI and Dr Phan Thuy Hien, who did her PhD in Australia, made all the difference to my AYAD experience,” Rebecca said.

Rebecca McBride recently started a 12 month position as graduate officer with ACIAR’s agribusiness program.

Project information 

Mandy Gyles, ACIAR Public Relations

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