Good health

A wide range of organic products are there for all to admire at the monthly Saigon Green Fair.

By Tran Vo on September 16,2015 06:08 PM

Good health

Farmers Blend Coffee

The concept of Saigon Green Fair is to focus on introducing clean and organic food and products that are close to the environment. The stories of farmers and businesspeople who pursue their passion to manufacture healthy organic food and create awareness about protecting the environment make for interesting reading.

Farmers Blend Coffee

Dietmar Vogelmann was at his booth of Farmers Blend Coffee at the Fair. The young German came to Vietnam in 2009, founded Farmers Blend Coffee in October 2014 and now works as it is Managing Director.

‘I have a personal passion and interest in coffee and I spent three years researching coffee in Vietnam,’ he said. ‘My research took me many times to the central highlands, where I got in touch with local farmers and other coffee-related businesspeople. Over time we created a network of professionals that I trust and that constantly supply us with the same quality coffee.’

The first time he went to Dak Lak province to buy coffee he left Mui Ne in the morning on his motorbike and reached the province by midday, then looked around to find reliable coffee sources. He then took two bags of 60 kg each back to Mui Ne on the back of his bike. ‘I will never forget that trip - it was quite scary driving down from the mountains just before sunset.’ Thankfully he now has his suppliers and farmers deliver the coffee directly to his small roasting shop in Mui Ne. ‘Vietnam is the second-largest producer of coffee in the world, so I strongly believe that it has to be better marketed,’ he said. ‘I want to offer real coffee to people in Vietnam at reasonable prices.’

The main difference between Farmers Blend Coffee and other Vietnamese roasters, he believes, is simple. ‘We blend our coffee together in ways that is more “Western”, so I have created the Italian Espresso Blend,’ he said. ‘While our Vietnamese Coffee Blend is a mix between being traditionally made in a Vietnamese phin (filter) with a Vietnamese taste, it is still made with proper quality controls. After roasting, the coffee sits for 48 hours before grinding and packaging. All of the process is done by hand without any machinery.’

At present he is trying to market Farmers Blend Coffee at ‘Farmers Markets’ and events in HCMC like the Saigon Green Fair, to reach customers and to be connected to more coffee shop owners. The main point of his distribution is local coffee shops in the city, and the next step he will make is to approach supermarket chains. He is also currently in negotiations with partners over introducing Vietnamese coffee in Germany and Spain and in North America.

 

Good health

 

Lotus treats

If you’d like to enjoy some dishes based on lotus, Sen Ta’s booth at the Saigon Green Fair is the place to visit. Naturally, food from all parts of the lotus tree, such as the seed, the roots, the flowers, and even the leaves are organic and healthy. Sen Ta offers a wide selection of products from lotus, such as tra tim sen (tea from the pith of the lotus seed), lotus leaf tea, lotus seeds, guong sen (stored seeds in the lotus tree), and flowers. You can also buy dried lotus seeds and plant your very own lotus trees at home.

Nhan Thuy rice

At another booth a young man was inviting visitors to try steamed unpolished rice with sesame salt, which is good for the health. He is Nguyen Quoc Toan, a 26-year-old agricultural engineer who came from south-central Binh Dinh province to introduce Nhan Thuy rice, a clean rice brand that he and farmers have directly planted and processed.

After more than two years working at a company specialising in crop varieties in central Quang Ngai province, Toan found that farmers were using chemicals in their rice fields, which influences the quality of the rice and pollutes the surrounding environment. He wanted to help farmers understand and change how they plant rice, using less chemicals so they can produce ‘healthy’ rice.

In 2013 he began working with farmers in Cat Thang commune in Hoai Nhon district, Binh Dinh province, to plant the first test crop of the Nhan Thuy rice variety in two different ways - one with chemical fertiliser and one with only organic fertiliser. After the harvest Toan invited the farmers to eat both kinds to evaluate their quality. It was agreed that the rice grown using organic fertiliser was much better. Toan then convinced the farmers to plant Nhan Thuy rice using organic planting methods. It was also the time he came upon the idea of building the ‘Nhan Thuy Organic Rice’ brand. Steps such as cropping, drying, storing, husking, and packaging are done by hand to retain the quality and natural aroma of the rice.

Not only working with farmers in the field, Toan also has to look for markets for his rice products. Attending the Saigon Green Fair allows him to introduce his Nha Thuy rice directly to customers. ‘With a small manufacturing size, my main marketing tool is Facebook,’ he said. Nhan Thuy rice is now being sold mainly in organic food shops in Hanoi and HCMC. Toan is putting together a plan to produce many different kinds of organic rice under US organic rice certification, so that his Nhan Thuy organic rice can be exported to other countries.

Ma Duong Avocado

Duong Ma Duong, a middle-aged farmer from southern Binh Phuoc province, introduces fruit from his farms such as chom chom, mangosteen, and durian at the Fair. His most special fruit, however, is Ma Duong avocado, which he created successfully by himself. From his long experience as a gardener, Mr Duong took many years to test his new variety of avocado. He popularised the variety among other farmers in the region to plant under Global Gap standards. After that he took responsibility for purchasing all of the fruit and finding markets domestically or for export. Ma Duong avocado looks impressive, with each piece weighing 500 to 700 grams. Output is about 50 tons per year, which is only enough for the domestic market at this stage. So he and the farmers are enlarging their growing areas in order to export. He has already introduced Ma Duong avocado to Taiwan, Malaysia and US, and received positive feedback.

The next Saigon Green Fair will be held over two days, on 19 and 20 September, at Café D’anver, 96B Le Thanh Ton, D. 1, HCMC (near Ben Thanh Market).

 

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