Vietnam Cassava

Evolution of the initiative

The project started as an SNV initiative to have a larger pro-poor outreach in its programme in North-Central Vietnam. After a thorough mapping and scanning of economic opportunities of the poorest districts in three North-Central provinces, cassava for starch, acacia for timber and rattan for furniture and handicrafts were selected for more in-depth value chain analysis and development of interventions.This process was conducted together with government and private sector stakeholders. Together with international consultants and a local university, detailed studies and baselines were carried out which were validated at each step in the process with the key stakeholders along the chain.
Key challenges identified in the cassava chain were:

  • Increasing access to business services
  • Improving supply chain co-operation between value chain actors
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability
  • Improving the business enabling environment

In working together, the producers were looking for access to essential production knowledge and techniques to stabilise production. Under old production technologies their productivity would decline dramatically after two years, forcing them to rotate cultivation and not manage the soil. The production period would also only span five months of the year as farmers were all planting at the same time. The companies were looking to secure year round supplies of fresh cassava to ensure optimal use of processing equipment and to satisfy the rapidly increasing demand for product from their Chinese buyers.

The potential for rolling out the model for linking poor farmers to cassava starch processing factories in Vietnam appears good at first glance. There is a favourable policy environment. Given the steadily increasing demand from China for industrial cassava-based starch, the market for cassava appears to be secure. A government decree to prevent cassava cultivation encroaching on forest land has also created an incentive for farmers to increase the intensity of cultivation. The need to squeeze more production from a given land area will encourage the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.

There are an estimated 60 cassava processing plants active in Vietnam with an installed processing capacity of four million mt per year. 500,000 ha have been planted with cassava. SNV is currently only working with 23,500 ha. Thus there is ample potential for replicating the programme in other areas and with more factories.The main constraint for further scaling-up the programme is the access to enough working capital for the enterprises, combined with enough good quality extension staff to reach out to a growing number of farmers.