News / Asia

Vietnamese Consumers Shop for 'Safe' Vegetables on Internet

A shopper reads packaging on vegetables on sale at Veggies, a grocery shop in central Hanoi listed on a website providing consumers with information on where to buy "safe" vegetables, March 28, 2014. (Marianne Brown/VOA)
A shopper reads packaging on vegetables on sale at Veggies, a grocery shop in central Hanoi listed on a website providing consumers with information on where to buy "safe" vegetables, March 28, 2014. (Marianne Brown/VOA)
Marianne Brown
In Vietnam, there are rising concerns about the excessive use of pesticides on crops. To ensure their vegetables are safe, some consumers are now shopping for produce online.

Billboards carry the message “don’t abuse pesticides, think of the consumer,” but a lack of government regulation has done little to combat the overuse of pesticides, and consumers are taking note.  As a result, many are turning to the Internet to be better informed.

Out shopping in Hanoi’s city center, 30-year-old mother Tran Thuy Nhat expressed concerns many people can identify with.

She said she only buys vegetables from people she knows in her village on the outskirts of the city. She is worried about chemicals in vegetables and fruit and said if she buys these from someone she does not know, they could be harmful to her baby.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have access to farmers they know well. But a website dedicated to providing information about shops which sell “safe vegetables” in Hanoi aims to address this lack of trust.

The site, which means “safe vegetables, consumers” was set up by Vietnam’s consumer association Vinastas in 2011.
 
Dang Kiem Hien is part of the team in charge of it. She said the website gives addresses and phone numbers of shops selling safe or organic vegetables. Shops have to provide detailed information such as invoices, addresses and telephone numbers to prove that they get the vegetables from sources which are deemed safe or organic. If a shop is discovered to not be complying, it will be expelled, Hien said.

Farmers in Vietnam use a lot of pesticides. In its effort to push productivity and food security goals, the government promotes use of chemical inputs, such as fertilizers and pesticides, and subsidizes them.

Eduardo Sabio, a Hanoi-based regional representative of Belgian non-governmental organization VECO, which supported the “rau sach” website, says there is a real problem with pesticide misuse.

"Some are improperly labeled because they come from suspect origins. The government has a list of pesticides that are allowed, but almost always there are “illegal” pesticides that get over the border and get to the farmers,” Sabio said.

Because of Vietnam’s agrarian system, which allows farmers to have access to very small parcels of land, it is very difficult for growers to produce organic vegetables, he said.

"For instance, in a half hectare area there could easily be four or five or even more farmers planting different crops at different times of the year using different pesticides and chemicals. So even if you claim to be organic in a 1,000 square meter of farm but your neighbor is using pesticide without any barrier between the two farms you cannot claim you are organic" explained Sabio. "Because of the drift from applications from pesticides can easily spread over to your farm."

Organic certification

He said Vietnam does have an organic certification process, but it is not suited to smallholders because of the large number of criteria, forms to fill in and the high cost.

That’s why “rau sach” uses the Participatory Guidance System (PGS), which is applied in more than 20 other countries around the world.
 
The system tries to enforce quality standards via regular peer review that involves  a wide range of stakeholders including farmers associations, traders, and local officials. Farmers keep detailed logbooks of each pesticide spray, which is regularly monitored. Nearby farmers also keep an eye on what applications are being made by their neighbors.

Ha My, who runs the Hanoi branch of vuonrau  - an online vegetable delivery service - said her business is certified with Viet Gap.
 
After setting up just last year, they already have around 1,000 customers across the country.

Ha said consumers are worried about the origin of their vegetables so more people are turning to online resources like Facebook.

“Facebook is also the real life of people, from friend by friend, they know other mutual friends, oh my friend buy from this shop, she showed the delicious vegetables, oh I trust her, I trust my friend so now I trust your shop. It’s also the name and the face of people too, who use Facebook, the more friends you have, who you are, it shows on your Facebook too,” said Ha.

Trust is key. For that reason, experts say Vietnam needs a regulatory body to ensure producers comply with the requirements for organic or safe farming. This is not just for the benefit of farmers and consumer, but also to avoid cases of poisoning linked to government-subsidized pesticides.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid