Organic agriculture struggling to survive and develop

Although consumers have paid attention to organic vegetables for many years, organic agriculture is still struggling to survive and develop.

organic veggie.jpg
Farmers at an organic vegetable farmland

Organic vegetables are grown without the use of synthetic chemicals, such as human-made pesticides and fertilizers, and do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system that promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. The high price of organic veggies makes it impossible to consume well. Moreover, many dishonest traders have mixed unclean vegetables with organic ones eroding consumers’ trusts.

Meanwhile, organic agricultural production models have developed quite rapidly, especially since groups of young people in forums on social networks say that they return to their hometowns to make safe vegetables to earn a living.

In forums, from around 2021 until now, many young startups and investors have complained about hiccups along their way of doing organic agriculture. Worse, some said that they were bewildered by not knowing where to start or how to start again.

According to Tran Thi Lan Anh in Hanoi who started a business with an organic agriculture model in the Northern Province of Hoa Binh’s Kim Boi District, many people at first chose the field of farming such as growing vegetables and fruits to start a business because they thought growing vegetables was simple, but the more she did it, the more frustrating it became.

Growing organic vegetables does not cost as much fertilizer as regular vegetables with chemical fertilizers but the technical process must strictly comply with natural farming requirements. Therefore, productivity is very low and labor costs are high, leading to prices 2-3 times more expensive than regular vegetables.

Another man also started a business with the organic agriculture model from 2021 in a rented area of about 10 hectares in the area near Hanoi. Mr. Hoang Hai Hau said that in order to methodically grow vegetables, he must invest in net houses, membrane houses, and renovate facilities costing a lot. On average, he spent about VND 300 million (US$12,004) for one hectare of farmland. Growers spend a lot of money planting organic veggies, it is difficult to sell such veggies.

Hoang Hai Hau as well as many investors said that because growing organic vegetables has high costs, the selling price is 2-3 times higher than regular vegetables, so consumption is slow. They have no profit with lower prices. That’s why the market for organic vegetable products as well as organic agricultural products in general has mainly focused on customers with high incomes for many years.

Not only Mr. Hoang Hai Hau but also a number of organic vegetable farm owners in the Central Highland Province of Lam Dong’s Da Lat District and around Hanoi said that in the last 2-3 years, the organic product consumption market, in general, has been very weak due to economic crisis, many families have sharply cut spending. In addition, according to Mr. Hoang Hai Hau, agricultural products are difficult to preserve for a long time, so even though friends and partners are very supportive, people gradually become less enthusiastic due to slow sales and spoilage of goods.

As a consequence, many investors have given up after 1-2 years of investing capital into clean agriculture and organic agriculture in provinces such as Vinh Phuc, Bac Giang, Bac Kan, Tuyen Quang, Hoa Binh, Lao Cai, in the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta regions.

Worse, many owners had to sell their farms after a few years of investing in agricultural production (including organic agriculture) in Hoa Binh, Yen Bai, Phu Tho, Lam Dong, Dong Nai, Tien Giang provinces

Although many people have failed, there are also many people who have reaped fruitful outcomes because they know how to build a reasonable strategy and roadmap or some of them shift their focus toward niche market targeting goods in niche market segments to reduce stiff competition.

For example, grower Tran Phuoc Linh in Duc Trong District has focused on products for patients. Many sick people have unique needs for organic vegetables, foods and spices, so Mr. Tran Phuoc Linh has researched to plant these agricultural products to suit their needs.

With a small capital, Mr. Linh initially only invested in a vegetable garden of a few thousand square meters, supplying about 30 types of vegetables to customers.

Later, many people knew his vegetables so they started to place more orders for other types of vegetables and tubers, sometimes up to about 100 types, and then he proactively linked up with many reputable organic agricultural farms in the Lam Dong area to supply enough vegetables for consumers.

However, according to several owners of some organic agricultural farms, basically today, successful people are those who have good capital or farms and farm chains of large corporations and businesses.

Other news