The agri-food sector accounts for 30% of global emissions, consumes large amounts of natural resources and partially contributes to biodiversity loss. Without significant shifts in food production and consumption behaviour, it is unlikely to achieve targets under the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On 9 November 2022, the European Union funded SWITCH-Asia “Promotion of supply and demand of Eco-Fair Agri-food processing products in Vietnam” (Eco-Fair) project was invited at COP27 to be a key speaker at the EU Pavilion during a Side Event titled Recipes for Change: How a sustainable food system can curb carbon emissions. With more than 80 people registered online and 30 people attending on site, Ms Carla Montesi, Director, Directorate for Green Deal and Digital Agenda, EU Directorate-General for International Partnerships showcased the European Union’s support in this transition underpinning goals of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan and the Farm to Fork Strategy.
Dr. Nguyen Bao Thoa, Director of the Vietnam Rural Industries Research and Development Institute (VIRI), also leading the Eco-Fair project, highlighted how Eco-Fair is making significant contributions towards a circular economy and other policy approaches that accelerate the transition of the agri-food value-chain to a low-carbon industry in Vietnam. She showcased examples of low-carbon agri-food enterprises that benefitted from the project’s support; and ways in which the project is engaging youth and the general public and promoting low-carbon nutrition and lifestyles.
Implemented during 2020-2023, the Eco-Fair project is led by the Vietnam Rural Industries Research and Development Institute (VIRI) in partnership with the Center for Creativity and Sustainability (CCS), Funzilife Oy Co., Ltd. (Funzi), and the Vietnam Cleaner Production Center Company (VNCNC). The project’s objectives include the promotion of sustainable production and consumption of eco-fair agri-food processing products in Vietnam, also contributing to economic prosperity and poverty reduction, and the development of sustainable livelihoods and a green economy for a transition toward a low-carbon, resource-efficient and a circular economy. These objectives are in line with the Green Growth Strategy and the sustainable development orientation of the Vietnamese Government. Many case studies have been so far drawn from Eco-Fair, a project which has attracted robust support and commitment from diverse stakeholders including Government agencies, professional associations, business organisations, financial institutions and particularly MSMEs in the value chain.
In the path towards supporting the development of a climate resilient agri-food sector in Vietnam, agri-food enterprises and cooperatives that have been supported by Eco-Fair managed to save costs and energy (10-15% per year); transform solid wastes into composition fuel; transform organic wastes into organic fertilizers or animal feed; generate biochar through VCBG technology; and transform variousagricultural by-products into valuable products.
The Ban Luong Cooperative (in the Bak Can province), for example, was enabled to significantly reduce solid waste from galangal processing, create a good source of high protein feed for chickens and an effective source of fertilizer for growing organic vegetables on the farm.
The Trai Lam Noodle Cooperative (in the Bac Giang province) is another beneficiary of the Eco-Fair project. They use the litchi tree branches, which must be pruned every year in the Luc Ngan litchi growing area, as the fuel source for boiler combustion. The Cooperative uses solar energy for product drying which saves up to 10-15% energy. Waste products are recovered as animal feed. Similarly, the Tota company (in Dak Nong province) uses the greenhouse solar dryer to reduce the product damage ratio to less than 1%. Moreover, the use of VCBG technology household stoves has generated 300kg of biochar per year on average for soil improvement, reducing 770 kg of CO2 equivalent by burying the biochar into the soil.
These are just a few of the many examples of how agri-food MSMEs are championing circular agricultural approaches.
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Banner photo: Panelists at EU Side Event, COP27
Arab Hoballah, Executive Director, SEED; Karim Elwakkad, Switch Med Project Extending Biodynamic and Organic Agriculture through SCP, Sekem Development Foundation; Carla Montesi, Director, Directorate for Green Deal and Digital Agenda, EU Directorate-General for International Partnerships; Dr Nguyen Bao Thoa, SWITCH-Asia Eco-Fair Project, Vietnam Rural Industries Research and Development Institute (VIRI); Mukashev Azamat, Adviser to the Minister, Ministry of Agriculture of the Kyrgyz Republic.