In Vietnam, farmers generally apply chemicals improperly; they even use banned and restricted pesticides leading to cases of food poisoning. Although increasing number of consumers are becoming aware of the harmful effects of agricultural chemicals and pesticides, and demand for safe vegetables (SVs) is on the rise, the level of awareness and understanding still remains limited. VECO Vietnam, together with its partner VINASTAS, is piloting and scaling-up a consumer education programme on safe vegetables. This initiative consists of the following key activities:
- Survey of consumers’ awareness on consumption of safe vegetables in Viet Tri City and Lang Son City;
- Campaign to create awareness of consumers on the benefits of safe vegetables to human health and the environment (Viet Tri City and Lang Son);
- Support to locally-organized outlets/stalls to provide accessible places for organized family farmers to sell their safe vegetables. These places are equipped with visible banners, information leaflets and identification cards for farmers selling their produce (Viet Tri City and Lang Son City);
- Mapping of organic and safe vegetable outlets in Hanoi and surrounding production areas in cooperation with the Center of Agrarian Systems Research and Development (CASRAD). This set of information will serve as database for sources and buying locations of safe vegetables in and around Hanoi City.
- Survey of consumers’ level of awareness on safe vegetables and food safety policies in six provinces of North Vietnam. This baseline information will inform VECO and its partners in designing suitable strategy and activities for consumers’ education and assessment of consumers’ behaviour towards safe vegetables;
- Strengthening and setting up of a functional Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) which certifies the quality of safe vegetables. PGS is executed by internal actors and caters to local/domestic demand (Viet Tri City and Lang Son City); and
- Promotion and scaling-up of the PGS model. The Plant Protection Department in Phu Tho Province, having piloted the PGS in Viet Tri city, and serving as advanced learning area for PGS, will scale-up the PGS model in Hanoi City and neighbouring Vinh Phuc province.
With our consumer’s education programme we target mostly female consumers, school children and their parents, school teachers, as well as retailers of safe vegetable products.