During the last week of August, I visited Vietnam for negotiations with a large agricultural company in that country. They had trialled some NTS products with very good results and they were interested in becoming our exclusive distributors in that region. It was my first visit to a country which has historically suffered more than most, from a variety of foreign oppressors. Our hosts were both gracious and generous as we toured the country to view some of their multiple enterprises. As the week progressed, it soon became obvious that we were dealing with something quite extraordinary. Very large companies are almost always driven by economic imperatives and the money men are notoriously heartless. Larger agricultural enterprises across the globe always have much more emphasis upon quarterly profits than the people from whom they profit. In short, the farmers are rarely recognised for their real role in the equation. This was not the case in Vietnam with a company called An Giang Plant Protection Service JSC.
Fusion of Socialism and Capitalism
In what is a perfect example of socialist principles flourishing within a capitalist framework, the welfare of the farmer is the central preoccupation in this flourishing, integrated showpiece. “From seed to supermarket” is a slogan more applicable to the multinationals in their power grab for global food control via the seed. However, in this case the Mother company produces the seed, provides the agronomy, transports the crop, dries and stores the grain (free of charge), markets the end product and even finances the farmer for 120 days. It doesn’t stop there. An Giang Plant Protection Service JSC hires doctors to provide free health care for their farmers (surprisingly this is not normally provided in communist Vietnam) and they organise a variety of entertainment events to enrich rural lives. They even own a tourist company that organises holidays for their valued suppliers and staff.
The Farmers' Hero
The agronomy, seed development, research fields and quality control all happen in a state-of-the-art, facility in a province called An Giang. Even here they have built a facility to feed and entertain 500 farmers at one time, and the large conference centre is regularly packed with growers learning mastery of their profession The multi-award winning CEO, Ong Huynh Van Thon, comes from a farming background and is known locally as “the farmers hero”. Employees at all levels seem infused with his passion to improve the welfare of the farmers. The company’s motto means “to provide farmers for sustainable development”, and they are truly walking their talk. A team of 2000 agronomists head out to the farms on a fleet of matching scooters and will actually live with the farmer to help manage the crop at critical phases. The farmers are given a healthy period of free storage for their crop at one of several of the company’s massive grain processing factories. This gives growers the flexibility to choose the time to sell their grain when the price is right. The processing plants are also cutting-edge and this, along with stringent quality control throughout, has allowed this company to supply a significant proportion of their product to the extremely discerning Japanese market.
Vietnam To Show The Way
The only downside,from our perspective, was their large chemical production facility with a fleet of over 100 trucks shipping farm chemicals around the country. However, they are constantly advising farmers how to reduce chemical requirements through improved management and efficiency.They are also committed to moving in a biological direction and a new microbiological department will help provide the science for a proposed production plant for microbial inoculums and bio-control products. They are also planning their own liquid fertiliser plant. Foliar fertilisers are an integral part of their program and they have had impressive results with this technology.
It has been decided that the agronomy team will be trained by NTS and we are excited to assist an organisation where the welfare of farmers is the central concern. We will openly share our understanding of the hard science-based biological approach and we will watch An Giang Plant Protection Service JSC move and flourish in a new direction. I suggested that they would benefit greatly from their own leaf testing laboratory, as precision nutrition builds both yield and pest resistance. They have immediately agreed to commission this facility. The Vietnamese rice brand can become a world leader, when increased nutrient density and resilience is factored into the equation.
Vietnam has the potential to become the shining light for biological food production in Asia in the coming years and NTS is committed to provide all of the help that we can to make this goal a reality.