|Progress Toward Outcome
The Project has achieved good progress toward an establishment of a comprehensive regulatory framework that was a high priority under the action plan for food safety, 2008-2012. Regulatory framework for tea, fruits and vegetables are harmonized and institutional responsibilities for certification, monitoring, inspection and enforcement have been clarified. Water and soil testing capacity of the 6 laboratories have been strengthened. The project provinces are effectively implementing the CFSMS and provincial food safety index to ensure benefits are realized.
A total of 178,780 ha of SAZ schemes have been identified for safe agricultural production for tea, fruit and vegetables for the period 2010-2020 in the 16 project provinces. Significant infrastructure investment support is needed to implement SAZ models. As the regulatory and institutional framework for safe agriculture production is in place, continued and additional investment support beyond what can be provisioned under the Project to expand SAZ models is needed as it would generate significant positive economic, social and environmental impacts. In addition to health benefits, the SAZ models are expected to generate significant other benefits such as increased production of tea, fruits and vegetables (20-60% increase in productivity on average) due to land consolidation and improved infrastructure, reduced post-harvest losses, increased value of agriculture production due to even quality and food hygiene and safety, and increased employment opportunities for unskilled labors. However, the impact of project interventions is constrained by limited resources, which are distributed over so many provinces.
The Project currently finances the cost of VietGAP certification for beneficiary farmers. To ensure the sustainability of SAZ models, products generated from these areas need to be certified under VietGAP. Benefits of these certifications need to be communicated and realized to motivate farmers to absorb this additional cost. Demand for certification will depend on the level of fees, market opportunities (e.g., steady buyers), level of consumer knowledge on safe food production.
The biogas development support under the Project has generated important lessons learned for the biogas development activities funded by ADB. These include the compatibility of the size of the digester to the heads of pigs/cattle in stock, so that all the animal manure can be treated by the biogas digester. Close monitoring of livestock population fluctuations will be needed to mitigate the risks associated with potential unmanaged surplus biogas (small size digester compared to the numbers of heads), which could harm the environment. The utilization of bio-slurry is influenced by the conditions of each household's set up; where households having agriculturally productive plots adjacent to their houses are able to more effectively utilize bio-slurry as organic fertilizer. For households who do not have large plots near their house, constructing additional facilities for bio-slurry storage (or compost pits) attached to the digester is necessary to avoid overflow of bio-slurry in the surrounding areas and/or discharging to the water body.
|Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)
Output 1: Regulatory Framework
Most of the targets are achieved. The IPMU, with the assistance of the loan implementation consultants, has reviewed twenty four (24) key legal documents related to agricultural food safety selected and issued (10) revised legal regulations. The remaining 14 documents legal documents are expected to be issued within 2014. Those updated 24 key legal documents provide clarity in the institutional responsibilities within MARD and between MARD and provinces, technical standards for GAP, certification, monitoring, inspection and enforcement, food safety conditions at the production, trading, and wholesale market levels, which allows producers, processors and traders to easily conform with these regulations and with international food quality and safety standards. The project provinces have already initiated implementation of decisions and circulars already issued.
The Project is improving the institutional capacity to implement VietGAP. The Standing Committee on Viet Nam Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) headed by a Vice Minister of MARD with Secretariat at DCP was established. The IPMU is coordinating the application of VietGAP in crops, livestock and fisheries production as is stipulated in the Prime Minister's decision issued in January 2012. A total of 15 training courses were provided to 498 DARD staff and 13 VietGAP certification bodies have been accredited by the IPMU. VietGAP have also been updated to simplify requirements for better compliance of farmers and to adjust several technical requirements (e.g., soil and water conditions, pesticide use) that have not been found to be feasible in actual practice. The updated VietGAP (version 2) addresses these issues while keeping within standards widely accepted internationally (i.e., GlobalGAP).
Institutional responsibilities related to agricultural food safety was clarified and strengthened within MARD through (i) establishment of Food Safety Monitoring Division at NAFIQAD for overall crop food safety monitoring, communication and information; and (ii) creation of new staff positions for Food Safety Specialists at DCP, Department of Plant Protection within MARD, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in the project provinces, and at district and commune level.
Pilot testing of a crop food safety management system (CFSMS) has started in 13 out of the 16 project provinces. The establishment of a provincial food safety index is underway with the consultancy engagement for the design and supervision of the PFSI mobilized in October 2013.
Output 2: Infrastructure and Facilities for Quality and Safe Agro-Products
The Safe Agricultural Zone (SAZ) planning schemes identified under the Project cover a total area of 215,967 hectares (ha) across all 16 participating provinces, accounting for 63% of the total agriculture area for tea, fruits and vegetables being targeted by the Project (i.e., 340,856 ha). The SAZ areas are approved by the Provincial People's Committees for the period of 2010-2020 with consistent procedures, standards and regulations applied across all provinces. A total of 68 SAZ models have been identified based on the soil and water quality testing to suit the crop production requirements. All civil works contracts to carry out these investments are expected to be awarded within Q4 of 2013. Additional investments for nine models are being identified to utilize unallocated loan proceeds and increase project intervention against the identified SAZ schemes, which is likely to cover an additional 300 ha. These project investments are scheduled to be completed by Q3 of 2014.
All SAZ models being supported by the Project generally have market linkages but in varying degrees. Incentives for adopting VietGAP are higher for those SAZ models which have contracts with supermarkets and processing companies for export. The EA was reminded of the importance to create linkages between the established SAZ models and potential steady and profitable buyers (e.g., restaurants, collectors, canteens, supermarkets) in order to have incentives for certified farmers to continue applying GAP standards in their production and post harvest process. The EA agreed to work with provinces and relevant departments to help farmers working within the SAZ models to develop business/marketing plans.
As of the October 2013, 4,864 courses covering topics related to farm food safety production standards and GAP have been conducted with a total of 200,298 participants; 34% of whom are women. Following these training programs and under the supervision and monitoring of provincial authorities and certification bodies, a total of 6,703 ha of vegetable, fruits, and tea production areas with crop yields estimated at 91,819 tons have been certified as safe. 12,239 household-based producers benefitted from the certification services provided under the Project.
The Project also assisted farmers in replacing old, low-quality and disease-susceptible tea and fruit plants with better varieties. This project intervention was carried out in 10 of the 16 project provinces that produced tea and fruit; and has so far covered a combined area of 10,398 ha (9,002 ha of tea and 1,396 ha of fruits). The variety replacement is expected to increase crop yields by 50% to 150%. Pesticide use is also expected to be decreased given the improved resistance of the new varieties to pest and diseases.
To effectively monitor, analyze, and certify agriculture products, the Project upgraded key regional laboratories with new laboratory equipment. Six laboratories were re-equipped and included those under the Department of Crop Production (1), Department of Plant Protection (1), and the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) (3); which are spread across Viet Nam's northern, central and southern regions.
In March 2013, MARD issued a decision selecting 19 research topics covering new crop variety development and post-harvest equipment innovations. The recruitment of eligible consultants to carry out these research activities has already been initiated. Five consulting contracts are expected to be awarded within Q2 of 2014.
Output 3: Biogas Development
The Project through 16 PPMUs has constructed 26,037 biogas digesters. Of these households, only 21,638 households have (so far) been technically accepted and granted financial assistance. On 24 July 2013, ADB issued its endorsement to reallocated unutilized loan provisions under Component 3 to augment allocations for household biogas digester construction in the participating provinces. This reallocation is endorsed on the condition that should the 4,399 households be technically accepted, the release of financial assistance benefits to these households (approximately VND5,278,800,000 or US$250,000) will be prioritized. The BPMU has conducted random inspections of 986 works and found them all to have been built in conformity with designs and are operating to specifications.
To date, the BPMU and PPMUs have conducted 1,711 various training courses for 48,065 participants, among who include managers, technicians, builders, and biogas works users. Female and ethnic minority participants accounted for 24% and 6.3%, respectively. Households trained on the safe construction, operation, and maintenance of biogas digesters have reached 30,000.
The CPMU reported that 11,199 households received loans from VBARD and CCF (now COOPBANK) 3,777 households (VND76.3 billion) and 7,422 households (VND220.1 billion), respectively. A total of VND296 billion has been disbursed.