The ‘window for submissions’ for VCF’s first round of challenges has already been closed.

VCF’s First Set of Challenges:
Increase participation of the poor in food retail systems. We challenge companies to use innovative products, services, or business models, such as, but not limited to, information, knowledge, and/or technologies that increase the supply of processed and semi-processed agricultural commodities – as cultivated by poor producers in Vietnam – into modern food retail systems.

For example: in one country, a challenge fund is supporting a project to invest in the Allanblackia (AB) oil (an alternative to palm oil) industry, helping local farmers to cultivate AB trees and develop a local management system that will bring production up to commercial sustainability levels. Seeds from the AB tree contain a hard fat that commands relatively low prices in the local market, and so farmers of the AB tree are relatively poor. However, a large multinational enterprise that uses edible fats as a base for various consumer products, saw the potential for AB as an attractive alternative to palm oil. In particular, their research found that AB oil has the right properties for use in food and soap production, but does not suffer the environmental, price volatility and quality consistency issues associated with palm oil. The project aims to create a sustainable supply chain for food-grade AB, comprising around 2,600 collectors, around 100 focal persons (in whose warehouses the seeds will be stored), tree nurseries, a transport company, and a crusher to extract the oil.

 

Increase participation in higher value added agricultural export markets.  We challenge companies to improve the incomes and employment opportunities of poor producers in remoter provinces of Vietnam by increasing their access to higher value agricultural export markets.

For example: in one country, a challenge fund supported a project that aimed to add value to the products of smallholder farmers, and improve their access to international markets. The country’s leading fruit exporter joined with two vineyards to consolidate wine production and marketing under a single, new brand name. A niche market was developed for the quality wine, in collaboration with Fair Trade, and hundreds of previously disadvantaged farm workers have since benefited from the project. Having won various awards for its quality, the project model has subsequently been duplicated in other regions. And as the wine produced has attracted tourists, this has also created business linkages for local craft villages, hotels and restaurants in the same locale. The wine is now sold in Europe and the US, and former farm labourers are now skilled wine makers and co-owners of the consolidated farms.

 

Improve the functioning of agricultural value chains that matter to the poor.  We challenge companies to introduce new business initiatives that deliver benefits to the poor in Vietnam – as either farmers, traders, or processors – in agro-processing value chains.

For example: in one country, a challenge fund provided grant funding support to a project led by two local companies and a business association of smallholder farmers, to improve the quality and pre-treatment of seeds in an agricultural sector that had been in steady decline. Two seed treatment plants and extensive training were provided, and seeds (as well as other necessary inputs) were sold to pre-registered farmers that agreed to sell their produce to the local companies. The result was a marked increase in productivity, and the creation of numerous jobs, with many thousands of smallholder farmers, mostly from poor households, benefiting from the project.