A unique group of Dutch and Vietnamese research institutes and companies has undertaken to develop the Fresh Academy in Vietnam: practical centres of expertise for the local horticultural sector. Wageningen UR’s collaborating partners are the Lentiz Education Group and HAS University of Applied Sciences, which provide vocational education at secondary and tertiary levels, respectively. Together the three represent the whole range of ‘green education’ (agriculture, food and the environment) in the Netherlands. Eight Dutch companies, as well as four Vietnamese agricultural universities and the Vietnamese consultancy Fresh Studio, are also involved in the project.
The agricultural and horticultural sector in Vietnam is developing rapidly, which means increasing opportunities for the Netherlands. That is why HortiViN was created in 2014, an initiative by one of the Dutch top sectors (Horticulture & Starting Materials). The HortiViN partnership supports the horticultural sector in Vietnam while creating business opportunities for the Netherlands. This is the context in which collaboration led to setting up the Fresh Academy: the development of knowledge, structure and a sustainable business model for four existing Vietnamese horticultural facilities. Two companies in the horticultural sector – Demokwekerij Westland and Kenlog b.v. – from the Westland area of Holland and six supporting technical suppliers ensure the Dutch business sector is strongly represented.
Huub Schepers from Wageningen UR is an expert in practical research into arable farming and vegetable crops. He is enthusiastic about the collaboration: “We have vegetable-related projects running in various Asian countries; for example Vietnam, where Fresh Studio has been our partner for many years. We always work closely with local partners and business sectors, analysing the local situation and identifying stumbling blocks which need to be given priority in the practical training programmes. We provide a Training-of Trainers (ToT) programme, after which the local partner teaches the Training-of-Farmers (ToF) courses.”
“Because we work jointly with Dutch educational institutes in this project, we believe we’re enhancing the quality of our ToT approach even more. And of course we’re aiming to further improve and professionalise the vegetable supply chain in Vietnam.”
A large number of enthusiastic potential trainees from four regions of Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat and Dong Thap) are all very keen to learn. They attended the kick-off meeting for the Fresh Academy project, organised in September. During the next 18 months, around 25 trainers will be trained and at the end of the project they, in turn, will be responsible for training vegetable growers in Vietnam.