Vietnamese agricultural product journey of two young women

SGGP
The Vietnam fruit map for digitization of tropical fruits, or the development of indigenous corn varieties is not only an economic story but also carries the pride of Vietnam – an agricultural country. In their career journeys, modern 9X-generation women still do not forget the strength of their homeland, bringing Vietnamese fruits to the international market and developing indigenous agricultural products to support the people of their hometown.
Vietnamese agricultural product journey of two young women ảnh 1 Hoang Phuong and non-GMO corn. (Photo: SGGP)
Vietnam fruit map

All details about specialties of 63 provinces and cities, the geographical indication, the growing area, the fruit output across the country are displayed on the website at www.bandotraicayvietnam.com. People can easily access the website and learn a whole picture of fruit trees spread across the length of the country.

Bandotraicayvietnam.com includes five main activities. It has systematized information and data on Vietnamese fruits according to geographical indications and regional endemics. It changes the brand identity of Vietnamese fruit in domestic and international markets; promotes the image and quality of Vietnamese fruits at international events, exhibitions, conferences, and fruit fairs; promotes domestic fruit consumption during the Covid-19 pandemic with a new approach; accompanies the competent authorities and local authorities to come up with a strategic direction for farmers to grow suitable crops in accordance with market demand.

Vietnamese agricultural product journey of two young women ảnh 2 Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Huyen at the Vietnam - Austria Business Forum in September 2021. (Photo: SGGP)
As a country starting from agriculture, Vietnamese agricultural products include many delicious fruits, but how to promote Vietnamese fruit brands is the concern of many farmers. With eight years of experience in the field of import and export of fruits, Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Huyen, 29, Director of Mia Fruit Company, understood well the barriers of Vietnamese fruit in the world market. She said that at international trade fairs, she received many questions about Vietnamese fruits or endemic products of each region of Vietnam. Foreigners were interested and wanted to be introduced by her because when they accessed data pages, there was no complete information about Vietnamese fruits. “I think it is extremely important to systematize the endemic database of regions and geographical indications of each locality," she said.

In early September this year, Huyen attended business forums in Belgium, Italy, and Austria. The Vietnam Fruit Map built by Huyen represented Vietnam to participate in the Macfrut Fair, the largest agricultural fair in Europe, a gathering of more than 70 countries, held in Rimini City, Italy. Not only systematizing data on growing areas and building professional images for Vietnamese fruit trees, but the digitized version of Vietnam Fruit Map also aims to promote Vietnamese agricultural products internationally. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic and prolonged social distancing, international friends in any country can access and know what kinds of fruits Vietnam has, what standards are met, and continue to learn further.

Vietnamese agricultural product journey of two young women ảnh 3 Vietnam Fruit Map at the Vietnam - Austria Business Forum in September 2021. (Photo: SGGP)
To complete the fruit map, besides inviting a team of agricultural consultants, Huyen and her team also went to each farming area, talked to farmers, and summarized local data to complete the map gradually. “From the fruit map, the next steps will be a cooperative map, and a logistics map to connect and support trade in the best way. In phase 2, we will upgrade the data of growing areas, growers who meet the standards for export, or cooperatives wishing to export fruit to foreign countries," Huyen added.

Business started from local agricultural products

The story of starting a business from Napro corn noodles of Hoang Phuong, 25, Chairwoman cum Director of Vietnam Napro Cooperative in Quyet Thang Commune of Huu Lung District in Lang Son Province, surprised many people because it was unrelated to the field of study and the job that this young woman is doing. Hoang Phuong graduated from the Hanoi University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Korean Studies. She worked as an MC, an editor, and an actress. She is the first Vietnamese actress to win the Best International Actor Award at the 2021 edition of the Paris International Film Festival.

Talking about the reason for starting a business with corn in her hometown, Phuong said that she had been to Japan – a country with the best agriculture in the world. She was impressed by the life and economic development of Japan, especially the agricultural economy. At that time, she had a fleeting wish that she could have done something related to agriculture in her hometown. Her family members were farmers, and her sister was also passionate about developing agricultural products, so they made a plan and carried it out.

In 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out worldwide, the need to store dried food caused the export of rice vermicelli and noodle products to develop robustly. Phuong and her sister had more confidence to start a business with corn after receiving an invitation to produce and supply healthy noodles, including noodles made from corn for export to European countries.

Phuong said, “corn not only helped my parents to raise us but also a piece of memory with folk snacks, such as corn cake and popcorn. When researching further, I found out that in Europe, there is a line of premium pasta made from naturally cultivated corn because corn does not contain gluten - a substance that every healthy eater is trying to avoid. Non-GMO and naturally-grown corn is good for health. Therefore, my sister and I no longer hesitate to establish Vietnam Napro Cooperative."

From the non-GMO corn variety that her family planted more than 20 years ago, Phuong began her journey to making corn noodles. The first year was extremely challenging that sometimes she wanted to give up because the corn dough was lumpy, hard, broken, or sticky, that even when it was put into the machine, noodles could not come out, and tons of corn were thrown away. She tried again and again so many times that she could not remember. Finally, she succeeded in making corn noodles with the support of her family. “The production of corn noodles has been stabilized, and we have successfully built a small-scale naturally-grown material area. In the future, when we can create a larger material growing area, we will focus on exporting," Phuong said.

Rising from difficult days, the first scholarship that Phuong got was a boarding scholarship at the Vietnam - Laos Friendship School for ethnic minority students with good academic achievements. Phuong shared that she and her sisters could go to school, thanks to scholarships. So, she always felt that she owed something. The Loving Noodle Bowl Fund was born because of that. The fund is deducted from the revenue of Vietnam Napro for two purposes, including growing trees to protect the environment and create landscapes for her hometown and awarding scholarships to underprivileged students.

In the journey that young people seek themselves and establish careers, starting a business from Vietnamese agricultural products is a remarkable story. More proudly, Vietnamese agricultural products have reached the international market.

Amid the continuous development of technology, choosing to start a business from local agriculture is not easy for young people. “In the orientation, our cooperative not only focuses on producing and processing corn products but also builds additional jobs so that our local community also benefits from the business of corn noodle and continues to develop this non-GMO corn variety," Phuong said.

By Kim Loan – Translated by Thanh Nha

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