In the past decades, with the average gross domestic product growth of 6.2% from 2000 to 2012, Vietnam has transformed itself from a very poor and undeveloped country to one of the most energetic emerging market in the world (Weirtheim, 2014). The significant growth in the population’s personal income, which is from $70 billion in 2008 to $127 billion in 2013 (Retail in Vietnam, 2014), has caused a subsequent increase in purchasing power and consumer spending, especially for high quality goods and services including daily food, especially fresh vegetables and fruits
According to HegiLibrary, annual vegetable consumption per person in Vietnam has risen from approximately from 72 kilogram in 2000 to 94 kilograms in 2014. Moreover, Vietnamese consumers, especially emerging middle and affluent classes have been more aware about the quality of fresh vegetables due to the significant increase in standard of living. Yet, food safety has always been a significant issue in Vietnam when there is an average of 3 million cases of food poisoning annually. Although Vietnam is a predominantly agricultural country, the supply for “safe vegetable” – vegetables that have microorganism or chemical residues under the permitted levels – can just account for 30% of the demand (Simmons and Steffanie, 2007)
This purpose of this report is to explain why there is such a problems in the safe vegetables market as well as the potential solutions to overcome those challenges that the Vietnam Sustainable Agriculture and Development Department might be interested in.
Causes of the shortage in safe vegetable market
1) Increase in urbanization and industrialization
The significantly increase in urbanization and industrialization has caused shortages and contamination of land for agriculture while demands for fresh vegetables just keeps going up.
According to a report done by Deloitte, 32% of Vietnam’s population was living in cities in 2013 representing a growth of 21% since 2008. The urbanization rate is expected to increase by 38% in 2015 and 45% by 2020 (Retail in Vietnam, 2014). Moreover, due to the new economic development policy, Vietnamese government has embraced the process of industrialization by investing more than $200 billion in 12,959 projects of building new industrial zones around the country. Therefore, about 11,000 hectares of farmland has been converted into urban and industrial land over the past few years (Long and Bohme, 2012) causing the shortage in agricultural land. Subsequently, farmers are likely to use more pesticides on their crop to enhance productivity.
In addition, the fact that there is a substantial increase in industrial zones and urban infrastructure has caused a serious problem in air, water and soil pollution affecting the agriculture landscape. For examples, municipal waste and toxic waste from the industries and city has severely contaminated the soil and polluted the air in HaNoi, where the Red River Delta (the largest area in the country producing fresh vegetable) is located, which negatively affects the agriculture practice in the area (Long and Bohme, 2012).
2) The excessive use of pesticide
The use of pesticide could help to improve the productivity in vegetable farming, yet it could also impose hazardous risk to the ecosystems and human health.
Realizing the potential dangerous of using pesticide, the government has imposed many regulations promoting safer pesticide and reducing the pesticide usage. However, these regulations are not as effective as the authority might think due to the state system failure in managing the process of pesticide approval. Usually, high rank officials in the capital are the one solely responsible for making pesticide regulations without many inputs from the lower officials in the provinces. After long procedure of getting approved, lists of “restricted use” pesticides are sent to the local authority when by that time, those kind of restricted pesticides are