The international conference igniting the research project “Food loss in the Pangasius Catfish Value Chain of the Mekong River Basin” took place at Hall B1.302 - UEH (Campus 279 Nguyen Tri Phuong, Ward 5, District 10, HCMC). Attending the conference, on behalf of UEH, were Dr. Dinh Cong Khai – UEH Vice President and Assoc.Prof.Dr. Vo Tat Thang - Director of the Agricultural and Health Policy Research Institute (HAPRI).
On behalf of Ministries, Departments and Local Leaders, there were Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Ha - Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Education and Training; Dr. Tran Dinh Luan - Director of the Directorate of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Mr. Nguyen Van Buoi - Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Ben Tre province; Ms. Vo Thi Thanh Van - Deputy Director of Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of An Giang Province; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Minh Phu - Vice Rector of School of Fisheries, Can Tho University; Ms. To Thi Tuong Lan - Deputy Secretary General of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
International guests comprise Mr. Dominic Balasuriya - Economic Consul, Australian Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City; Representatives of the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) include Ms. Eleanor Dean - General Manager, Communication and Capacity Building Program of ACIAR, Mr. Howard Hall - Special Advisor of ACIAR.
On behalf of the project, there were Honorary Assoc. Nguyen Van Kien - Project Manager, HAPRI Research Leader, Senior Researcher of University of New England; Dr. Phouvin Phousavanh - Representative of the National University of Laos research team; Dr. Kim Chhin SOK - Representative of the Royal University of Phnom Penh research group. There were also representatives of Universities and Research Institutes in the country; professional associations in the provinces of pangasius farming and processing; companies that produce, process, feed, and provide services in the pangasius chain; pangasius farming cooperatives; and guests as scholars interested in the project.
The project “Food loss in the Pangasius Catfish Value Chain of the Mekong River Basin”, funded by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Canadian International Development Research Center (IDRC), was approved by the Ministry of Education and Training under Decision No. 2426/QD -BGDDT dated August 26, 2022. The project’s governing affiliation is the Ministry of Education and Training; The project owner is the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City. The proposed Unit is the Health and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (HAPRI). The project implementation period is 3 years, from April 1, 2023 to June 30, 2026.
The project is part of the newly established Food Loss Program of ACIAR and IDRC. The first phase of this program identifies new challenges, potentials and opportunities impacting future food availability. The second phase plans and implements research projects that address the challenges of smallholder farmers in developing countries.
The objective of the project is to raise awareness concerning food loss and waste, resulting in facilitating private-sector investment in reducing food loss and waste of pangasius in the Mekong River Basin of Vietnam. The project will bring practical values to the beneficiaries as follows:
The pangasius industry, farmers, associations and government agencies in Vietnam will benefit from efficient and best practices obtained through understanding current food losses and wastes in the pangasius value chain.
Farmers and other stakeholders in the field can come up with solutions to value loss and food waste, and jointly design, test and evaluate high-impact options in the pangasius value chain in Vietnam.
Women directly benefit from solutions that improve their participation in the pangasius value chain, solutions to improve livelihoods, and ensure food security, and nutrition.
Young researchers are trained to improve capacity in value chain, forecasting.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Dr. Dinh Cong Khai - Vice President of UEH – stated: “As a national key Public University, with nearly 48 years of experience and restructuring to become a Multidisciplinary and Sustainable University, University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City (UEH) has always recognized the responsibility to contribute to the sustainable development of society. In addition to the mission of training high-quality human resources for the country, UEH has constantly promoted research, project implementation, and regional development consultation. The project “Food loss in the Pangasius Catfish Value Chain of the Mekong River Basin” is one of the important research projects that UEH is carrying out for the Mekong Delta region in particular, and the country in general. Finding ways to increase productivity and output for smallholder farmers while minimizing food loss at the post-harvest stages helps increase the competitiveness of the food value chain, particularly pangasius in Vietnam. This topic is extremely relevant in countries where food storage facilities are lacking, transportation infrastructure is limited, and access to post-harvest technologies is limited. While there have been many studies on post-harvest losses, few studies are being conducted in developing countries, including Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Therefore, I believe that this research project will bring practical effects to the development of Vietnam’s agricultural industry."
Within the framework of the program, two sessions were held, including: The announcement ceremony of the launch of the research project “Food loss in the pangasius catfish value chain in the Mekong River Basin” and an internal conference between the project’s member countries on the topic “Food Loss among the countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion”. Diverse important contents were shared:
Ms. Eleanor Dean - General Manager, Communication and Capacity Building Program of ACIAR - affirmed the importance of the ACIAR/IDRC food loss research program;
Assoc.Prof.Dr. Vo Tat Thang - Director of the Health and Agricultural Policy Research Institute introduced key agricultural policies in the Mekong Delta and the role of the Health and Agricultural Policy Research Institute in researching agricultural policy solutions;
Dr. Tran Dinh Luan - Director of the Vietnam Fisheries Department - presented an overview of the role and position of the catfish industry in Vietnam: Challenges of food loss and waste in the catfish value chain in the Mekong Delta;
Overview of the project “Food loss in the pangasius Catfish value chain in the Mekong River Basin" (Honorary Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Van Kien - Project Manager, Director of the Health and Agricultural Policy Research Institute/UNE); Dr. Kim Alexander - Co-Chair, UNE);
A Value Chain Approach to Food Loss Assessment in the Catfish Industry (Dr. Craig Johns and Dr. Simos - Center for Global Food and Resources (GFAR), University of Adelaide, Australia);
Using forecasting methods to explore trends, structure, institutions and future value chain dynamics of the catfish industry (Honarary Professor Steve Cork - Australian National University & Assoc. Magnus Moglia - Swinburne University of Technology);
Interventional Spatial Operations & Solutions and MEL (Dr. Kim Alexander (co-chair), University of New England, Australia);
Gender approach to assess and enhance the role of gender in the pangasius catfish value chain (Dr. Silvia Larson - Gender Expert, University of New England, Australia);
Situations and factors affecting food loss and waste in pangasius catfish in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam: A systematic literature review (Research team of the Vietnam Health and Agricultural Policy Research Institute - UEH);
Challenges of food loss and waste in pangasius catfish in Laos (Assoc. Prof. Dr. Silinthone Sacklokham, National University of Laos);
Challenges of food loss and waste in pangasius catfish in Cambodia (Dr. Kim Chhin SOK, Royal Agricultural University in Cambodia);
Challenges and potentials in the pangasius catfish value chain in An Giang in the current situation (MSc. Tran Anh Dung - Head of Sub-Department of Fisheries of An Giang province);
Food challenges and food loss in pangasius catfish in Vietnamese enterprises (Mr. Do Lap Nghiep - Deputy General Director of Nam Viet Joint Stock Company);
Difficulties, challenges and prospects of pangasius farming in Ben Tre Province (Mr. Nguyen Van Buoi - Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Ben Tre province).
In the afternoon of the same day, the researchers participated in independent discussion sessions on four (04) key questions of the project including: Current losses and wastes occurring in the value chain. What is the treatment of pangasius in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos? What are the main causes of food loss and waste in the pangasius catfish value chain in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos? How can women and men be empowered and improve their participation/livelihood/food security through interventions in the value chain? What interventions or innovations can effectively support the pangasius catfish value chain to reduce food loss and waste now and in the future?
The success of the international conference initiating the research project “Food loss in the pangasius catfish value chain in the Mekong River Basin” will lay the foundation for the project’s in-depth research activities, addressing farmers’ challenges and unlocking new potential for future food sources. This is the social responsibility of a public university, and the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City (UEH) is always honored and responsible for contributing to this sustainable development.
Additional photos about the conference:
News, photos: UEH Department of Marketing and Communication, Health and Agricultural Policy Research Institute