In one of my previous posts, I mentioned that CECAD is in the process of partnering with VECO Vietnam (veco-ngo.org), an org under Vredeseilanden, a Belgian NGO. Last week, I was able to sit in another meeting with them, and I think it was productive.
Beforehand, I had to drink 2 cups of coffee because I was feeling really sleepy in the morning. We went to their office in Ha Noi, and they were really accommodating. A few days before, they had traveled to Tu Ne commune, Hoa Binh province to visit our project site and meet some farmers. They were impressed, so they called a meeting to further the process of our partnership.
In this meeting, I learned the VECO is a lot like CECAD, but just operating in different provinces in Vietnam. By working together, we seek to increase our common knowledge base and have a larger influence. Here are a few things about VECO:
Global Mission: Vredeseilanden enables and supports smallholder farmers to take up their role in rural poverty alleviation and to contribute to feeding a growing population in a sustainable way.
Specific Program Objective for Vietnam: Agricultural food chains in Vietnam are sustainable and inclusive for smallholders.
They have two program strategies:
- Inclusive Modern Markets (IMM) – supporting farmers and their organizations to take part in markets that continue to restructure and reorganize. There are two different types of markets: traditional markets where farmers directly sell their products to the consumers and modern markets, the ones where there are middle men between buyer and seller.
- Sub-Sector Development (SSD) – supporting different chain actors and governments to work towards supplying their basic food markets with competitive and sustainable food crops.
Then, VECO works on two different levels:
- Pilot Level = chain level / communal level. This would be where the organizations would make interventions at the chain level: encourage farmers to produce vegetables to meet demand, use the Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) certification system, create market links, and form cooperatives.
- Structural Change Level = policy level. VECO has also recognized that policy needs to go along with the activities that need to carried out. Both levels must be linked.
There are currently 4 Structural Change Agendas (SCAs) that VECO is carrying out right now.
- A well-organized network of consumer associations is promoting sustainably produced safe vegetables for the Vietnamese market.
- A national multi-stakeholder platform, representing private actors, government and vegetable farmers, is developed and is contributing to the formulation of policies favoring smallholder vegetable farmers.
- Changing sourcing policies of actors in traditional markets to improve product safety and market efficiency.
- The one that is most relevant to our partnership is: Well-functioning control and monitoring of standard quality systems, applicable to farmers, are in place and implemented by the government.
The way that the fourth SCA is going to occur is through PGS, which I’ve already talked about in a previous post.
We learned a lot about VECO in that meeting, and we were happy to realize that we have a lot of common interests and goals. Like CECAD, VECO works on the local level as well as the policy level.
Here is a diagram that was drawn during the meeting:
I have one more meeting with them at the end of the week, where we will logistically discuss what we will do in Hoa Binh and how exactly we will do it. I look forward to the next meeting, and I’ll be sure to drink some coffee for it too!
Over and out.