Safe-food scheme gets rid of the middleman

Update: February, 08/2014 - 09:01
HA NOI (VNS)  — For the last two years, residents of Ha Noi have been able to get safe vegetables in a novel way: the Ha Noi Safe Vegetables and Food Exchange (HSFX).

Now, the success of the exchange is prompting organisers to consider expanding it to HCM City.

The HSFX is similar to a securities exchange. However, it is not shares that are traded, but vegetables.

The exchange floor was established as a public-private partnership between the Ha Noi Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Viet Nam Green Products Export and Import Corporation (Vietxan Corp), which connects suppliers, consumers and distributors. State agricultural agencies decide which suppliers can trade their products on the floor.

Co-operatives, production groups, farms, and enterprises that produce safe products must be subject to regular inspections by the local Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and certified by relevant authorities in order to be HSFX suppliers.

On the private side, Vietxan Corp is in charge of human resources, technology investment and management.

Nguyen Thanh Luu, HSFX director, said that the quality and origins of the commodities traded on the floor were trustworthy because of the strict supervision by the departments. He added that the public side assisted suppliers facing difficulties, such as those from remote areas, who receive funding to help them strengthen their business.

Buyer members are comprised of all purchasers on the market: exporters, manufacturers, wholesalers, supermarkets, retailers and consumer groups. After more than two years of operation, thousands of buyers in both Viet Nam and other countries have registered as HSFX buyer members.

Every week, supplier members send product quotations to HSFX for listing on the trading board. Buyer members select appropriate products and producers to make orders. Orders are sent automatically to respective supplier members for preparing and delivering goods to buyer members.

In addition to ensuring food safety, the exchange gets rid of the middleman, making prices cheaper. Regular customers often have to buy vegetables at high prices because there exist too many middlemen, both supplying input materials and distributing products. As a result, producers have to buy input materials at a higher price and sell products at a lower price, while the retail price is very high.

To provide useful information about the market of safe vegetables and foods in Ha Noi for producers, consumers and concerned organisations, Ha Noi Safe Vegetables & Foods Exchange has developed the HAFOODS index, the first-ever safe food index in Viet Nam. The HAFOODS Index consists of HAVI (safe vegetables) and HAMI (safe meat, fish and eggs). They are published weekly on the floor's website.

"Our exchange floor is highly appreciated by international organisations including the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a delegation of the Nepalese Ministry of Agriculture Development. We are also co-operating with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)," said Luu. — VNS