As a result of the Vietnamese Cooperative Development Plan, which was signed during the closing ceremony of the regional conference on food security in Hanoi in March 2017 Agriterra was happy to welcome the delegation of Vietnamese Agriculture, Planning and Investment ministers, representatives of banks and our Vietnamese cooperative partners in the Netherlands.

“We feel greatly connected to the Vietnamese pursuit of having farmers and their organisations benefit from the economic growth in this beautiful country. And that can be done in one way only: by including farmers’ organisations and cooperatives in the growing economic trade by providing training, unlocking resources and exchanging experiences,” said Blokland. The signing ceremony took place in Hanoi in the presence of the Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường, and Vice-Minister of Economic Affairs, Marjolijn Sonnema; during a regional conference on food security, organised by the Dutch and Vietnamese governments.

The Vietnam Cooperative Alliance will take the lead in a major reform of the cooperative agenda in Vietnam in the next five years. The cooperatives will need to transform from traditional government-led organisations to businesses in which farmer members lead, invest in and benefit from their cooperatives. The Netherlands as a worldwide cooperative and agricultural leader can serve as a prime example on how progress can be made and will share its knowledge through Agriterra.

In 2012 a new Cooperative Law was introduced in Vietnam. The cooperative would embrace modern technologies, achieve better market access and scale up rapidly. All based on voluntary membership. In practice, this transformation has been disappointing. The objectives are nowhere near to being met. Agriterra sees an opportunity to give support and, as a leading specialist in cooperative business, will commit itself to the Vietnamese cause.

In the months to come, partnerships will be formed with institutional organisations, Vietnamese government agencies, national and international companies, financiers and other supporting organisations in the seven working areas of the Masterplan. Agriterra and VCA will simultaneously start cooperating in four regions by working with innovative cooperatives, scale up immediately after the first successes have been reached, to eventually cover the whole country.

Agriterra has been invited to coordinate the outside support of the conversion of the cooperatives into modern, market-driven and high-tech companies. The cooperatives must make the transition from traditional, politically managed organisations to modern companies where the farmers determine, pay and profit from their companies. The Netherlands is not only internationally renowned because of the best agricultural university in the world, but also due to our position as second largest exporter of agricultural products and our high agricultural productivity, which, moreover, scores well in terms of sustainability. Our cooperative companies are also among the top 300 cooperative companies and can compete with listed companies.