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Vietnamese Consumers Turn to the Internet for Safe Produce

Farmers in Vietnam are using an increasing amount of pesticides to boost productivity and meet food security targets. As Vietnamese consumers become increasingly wary about the safety of produce in their local markets, some are turning to the internet to find safe alternatives, according to Voice of America.

To meet the aforementioned production targets, the Vietnamese government promotes pesticide and fertilizer use, even helping to subsidize them. Eduardo Sabio from Belgian NGO VECO, based in Hanoi says that this is huge problem in Vietnam, one which is compounded by illegal pesticides from “suspect origins.”  

Despite billboards carrying messages warning about the dangers of using pesticides, government regulation is seriously lacking.

Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about getting their “five a day” from unknown sources and, as a result, many are now turning to websites and social networking forums to identify sources for safe or organic vegetables. 

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This is where website “Rau Sạch” (“safe vegetables”) comes in handy. The site, set up by Vietnam’s consumer association Vinastas in 2011, contains information about shops which sell safe produce in Hanoi. To be listed, shops need to show certain documentation to prove that their vegetables have not been harmfully sprayed with pesticides. Dang Kiem Hien, who is part of the online team, says that if the shops fail to comply with these standards, they are removed from the website.

Sabio is fully supportive of “Rau Sạch.” The website uses the Participatory Guidance System (PGS) which is used in twenty other countries and ensures quality standards of produce are met and enforced. Farmers keep logbooks to record pesticide usage and this is monitored regularly and are certified based on active participation of stakeholders.

To gain public trust, experts say that a Vietnamese regulatory agency is needed to make sure farmers comply with food safety standards as this will not only benefit consumers, but producers as well.


[VoA // Photo via unwomenasiapacific]

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