Organic farming takes baby steps to meet growing demand

By An Hong   May 16, 2016 | 06:16 pm GMT+7

Organic farming has become more mainstream in recent years as the demand for organic produce continues to rise.

The biggest thing holding back the growth of organic isn’t the demand, it's the shortage, said organic producers at a workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City themed “Brand Awareness of Vietnamese Organic Products”.

Nguyen Ba Hung, executive director of Organik Da Lat, whose revenues range from $500,000 to $1 million per hectare, said the shortage of organic products was the reason his company has missed out on many business opportunities.

For instance, Organik Da Lat, which exports organic produce like baby carrots, cabbage and other crops, finds it difficult to fulfill a weekly order of eight containers of organic cilantro for the Japanese market.

Organic product sales have risen sharply as consumers increasingly prefer fruit, vegetables and meat that is raised or grown without pesticides, antibiotics or other banned chemical substances.

A private organic company, located in the southern province of Tay Ninh, runs an 1,500-hectare farm of organic fish and shrimp purely for the German market.

organic-farming-takes-baby-steps-to-meet-growing-demand

The organic market is growing, but farmers have not been able to keep up with the demand. Photo by Hong Chau

Meanwhile, Vien Phu Company in the southernmost province of Ca Mau, said it exports organic rice to several markets, mostly developed countries.

It added that although domestic demand for organic food still remains relatively low, domestic consumers are quickly catching up with the trend.

Organic producers in Vietnam work with partners from more developed countries such as Japan who can help by transferring technology, providing high-quality seeds and breeds and developing a stringent farming process.

“We don’t have enough to meet export demand. We want to expand organic farming but without the government’s support, we just can’t give it a big push,” said a Vien Phu executive.

Land for organic farming covers 23,000 hectares in Vietnam, accounting for 0.2 percent of the country’s total agricultural land, said Tran Quoc Khanh, deputy minister of technology and science.

Official statistics show that the shortage of farm land, investment funds and government support make it difficult for organic farms to start production and expand quickly despite the huge market potential.