Pilot Postharvest Losses Vietnam, identifying solutions to reduce food waste in a value chain

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Project: Pilot Postharvest Losses Vietnam, identifying solutions to reduce food waste in a value chain

Status: Completed

Start: July 2016

End: June 2017

Commissioning party: Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)

Partners: Duoinlog, Fresh Studio Vietnam, Land Water Food Consult, Postharvest Network, Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research

Organizations involved: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Vietnam, Netherlands Embassy in Vietnam

The ambition of the Vietnamese government is to develop a sustainable agri and food sector with a well-developed postharvest system in which losses of agricultural produce are significantly reduced during transport, storage and processing. This will ultimately lead to possible solutions to reduce food waste by applying climate smart agricultural solutions, while generating attention of and informing Dutch companies on potential business opportunities in Vietnam.

Addressing the issue of food losses is a critical element to ensure the availability of affordable food. While Vietnam is striving to increase its agricultural production, gains in productivity are offset by postharvest losses. In Vietnam, food losses mainly occur by inappropriate handling, storage and transportation practices in fresh produce chains.

Identification of solutions to reduce food waste in two value chains

The project brought forward that the value chains of table potatoes (domestic market) and dragon fruit (export market) have much potential for further investigation. They can serve as example for other value chains and the exploratory work done in the project resulted in granting these two value chains funding at the regional Conference on Food Security “Let’s get to work”; 22 and 23 March 2017.

Potato storage for realizing a longer period of domestic potato availability
Goal: To extend the supply period of 4 months to over 7 months for table/ware potatoes produced in the Red River Delta by optimizing the storage temperature and applying a sprout inhibitor to maintain the product quality during the storage period.

Integral Supply Chain Quality of Dragon Fruit Vietnam
Goal: To reduce decay of dragon fruit by fungus diseases like Anthracnose (Collectotrichum gloeosporioides). This fungus causes a lot of damage during transport. Complete containers can be affected by only a few rotting pieces of fruit. Preventing this by detecting the fungus before packing or by cleaning could be a strategy to reduce the losses and to improve the shelf life of the whole batch. Ultimate goal of this intervention is to extend the shelf life to achieve a transition of the logistics, from air cargo to containerization per ship. That would reduce the production of carbon dioxide as well, so this intervention could be a concrete step towards climate smart agriculture.

Both interventions can be completed with the WUR’s “Transportable unit for post-harvest excellence” (COOL – Research on the Move). These two interventions have been rewarded with Food Security Deals and additional funding at the Conference and are mentioned in the Chair’s Communique. The outcomes of these interventions can be used for knowledge sharing and extrapolating the findings to other products and/or markets in the region.

The set-up of a Regional Postharvest Network fulfils a need

The project investigated the interest in a regional Postharvest Network. The following organisations expressed their willingness in to contribute to the Regional Post Harvest Network, either before, at or directly after the Conference by signing a Letter of Endorsement (LoE): The Fruit Republic (VN), WUR (NL), Fresh Studio (VN), Land Water Food Consult (NL), NAFTC (NL), Fresh Academy (VN – NL), Dalat University (VN), AgriProFocus (NL), Postharvest Network (NL) and Duoinlog (NL). The signing of the LoE by the Vietnamese Farmer’s Union (VN) is in preparation. At the Conference PUM (NL), HAS Hogeschool (NL) and Aeres Hogeschool (NL) also stated they support the regional PHN, either directly or via Fresh Academy. TKI Dinalog and EP Nuffic support the regional PHN via Dutch “buitenland promotie”.

The regional Conference on Food Security in March in Hanoi also brought as much as 55 Food Security Deals forward. Approximately 20% of these Deals also touch the topic of postharvest management. The project organisations are being contacted to discuss the possibilities of collaboration.

Next steps

Follow-up meetings are necessary to establish the Regional Post Harvest Network. This will be done with the organisations that have expressed their interest by signing the LoE, but also with (local) government, like MARD, IPSARD and the Embassy of the Netherlands as well as with the private sector and financial institutes such as ADB, WB and Rabobank Foundation. Based on these meetings (either via Skype, round table discussions etc.) we will draw an action plan and roadmap for the coming 3 to 5 years, defining topics (such as sustainable packaging, cold storage solutions, processing methods), starting concrete pilots, showing success stories, inviting other parties and letting the initiative grow.

TKI Dinalog and EP Nuffic are developing a Young Expert Programme (for young Dutch experts working in Vietnam and the region) to be launched in August 2017. Cooperation with the Regional PHN will be investigated.