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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid