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Apr 11, 2022 / 09:43

Int’l agritech helps solve Vietnam pressing challenges in agriculture

The first AgriTech landing pad program provides entrepreneurs 1-on-1 tailored support in a Vietnamese market hungry for transformative solutions.

Both Vietnamese farmers and consumers will benefit from agricultural technology which is presented by a number of international leading AgriTech innovators, helping address Vietnam’s most pressing challenges in agriculture.  

 AgriTech innovators help address challenges in three main agricultural fields in Vietnam: livestock, crops and plantations, fisheries and aquaculture. 

Mature AgriTech entrepreneurs from around the world scaling up into Vietnam are tasked with reducing post-harvest losses and building consumer trust in the country having roughly 70% of people working in agriculture.

AgriTech innovators will provide solutions to shape the future of agriculture in Vietnam, Mekong region and beyond in a landing pad program called “GRAFT”, which is sponsored by Australia’s Aus4Innovation program to contribute to promoting the testing of new models in public-private partnerships, and strengthen Vietnam’s capacity in digital, scenario building, commercialization, and innovation policy.

GRAFT provides entrepreneurs tailored support in three main fields namely crops and plantations, fisheries and aquaculture, and livestock.

The program is aimed to enhance access to quality production inputs as it argues that Vietnamese farmers, especially women, need improved access to affordable and high-quality production inputs to ensure farm profitability and sustainability.

It is expected to reduce post-harvest losses for the fact that farmers need effective storage and cold chain logistic solutions to maintain quality of output from farm-gate to processing and/or retail channels. This is important to limit price risk, ensure sustainability of downstream contracts, and secure supply of food and agri companies downstream.

The last but not least, it builds consumer trust. In reality, food and agribusiness companies need solutions to provide consumers with greater confidence in the levels of safety and quality promised across their food supply chains. This is critical to strengthen the industry’s consumer and customer-facing reputation.

 AgriTech innovators in Australia-supported GRAFT Challenge Vietnam.   

Prominent innovators

A number of domestic and foreign innovators have been selected to address real industry challenges in partnership with Vietnam’s agrifood leaders. They are prominent entrepreneurs chosen in the GRAFT Challenge Vietnam 2021, including Tepbac from Vietnam, Indian AgNext and Cropin, Indonesian Koltiva and JalaTech, Thai ListenField, Australian Hillridge, Israeli Sufresca, and US EveryPig.

The Hanoi Times talked with representatives of the agrotechnology firms to see how their solutions matter to Vietnam’s agricultural challenges.

AgNext Technologies, an Indian agritech startup founded in 2016 by entrepreneur Taranjeet Singh Bhamra with the mission to build trust and transparency in the agriculture value chain, digitizes food quality assessments with a set of end-to-end quality management solutions.

AgNext now receives 1-on-1 tailored strategic, advisory, and operational support from the GRAFT team to scale into the Vietnamese market, where it will address profound agricultural sector challenges such as managing production risks, improving feed-cost efficiency, and reducing post-harvest losses.

“Agriculture is a strong pillar of Vietnam’s economy. With the burgeoning technology-driven interventions across pre- and post-harvest space, the agriculture sector in Vietnam is at the cusp of digital transformation,” said AgNext Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Subrat Panda.

He expected that in the next three years, the company would achieve $5-10 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) for Vietnam.

Cropin, an Indian firm brought its solution to 7 million farmers in 56 countries, has built and executed on a Vietnam-specific-go-to-market strategy to bring its solutions to Vietnam’s coffee sector: engaging strategic partners for commercial trials, initiating discussions with local fit-for-purpose technology partners, and building local marketing capabilities.

Through its links with the Vietnam Coffee-Cocoa Association (VICOFA), GRAFT reached out to local producers to discuss partnerships with Cropin. GRAFT then connected Cropin with established agribusinesses who agreed to partner with the company to conduct proof-of-concept trials on Vietnamese farms.

“It's incredibly interesting to see how the GRAFT program can understand local market requirements and connect outstanding AgriTech entrepreneurs with consumers, partners, and scale-up resources. Cropin was able to develop Vietnam-specific solutions as a result of this,” shares Arjun Dutta, Sales Director, Asia Pacific of Cropin Technology.

Koltiva, is an Indonesian firm well-known for creating tailor-made software solutions for rural farmers and multinational companies, operating in 30 countries and more than 400,000 farmers and producers registered for their services.

The first challenge that Koltiva set out to tackle is one that is familiar to Vietnamese farmers: the difficulty for smallholders to access funding sources due to an underdeveloped rural financial services infrastructure where lenders have limited visibility to manage credit risk.

The solution to this challenge lies in Koltiva’s newest product: KoltiPay, an e-wallet that comes with the usual benefits of cashless payments while complementing existing payment options in rural areas through a split-payment method. KoltiPay offers greater payment transparency while supporting the subsequent entry of other Koltiva products in Vietnam.

“Vietnam has been on our agenda for quite a while due to its proximity and similarity to Indonesia”, shares Muhammad Fadli Borer, Key Account Manager of Koltiva for Southeast Asia. “We aim to finish adaptation of our proprietary software solutions over the coming months and to provide our products and services to Vietnamese companies and its multinational buyers within the first semester of 2022.”

ListenField, a Thailand-based Purpose-built digital innovation provider to more than 30,000 farmers in Thailand, Japan, and the US, help Vietnam farms adapt to climate change by contributing to resource degradation and lagging agricultural productivity in Vietnam.

After a period of research and exploration, GRAFT and ListenField identified Vietnam rice, banana, corn, sugar, and cassava farms as the ideal beneficiaries of ListenField’s platform.

“We are aiming to help cut operating costs [for agricultural businesses] with our multispectral vision and our proprietary technology by not less than 20% in the first year,” said ListenField co-founder Rassarin Chinnachodteeranun. “And we will keep improving our technology and partnerships to make sure that we bring real value to our customers in Vietnam.”

 Tepbac is the only Vietnamese firm selected in the final cohorts of the program.  

Tepbac, is the only Vietnamese firm selected to the final cohorts of the GRAFT Challenge Vietnam 2021. Its IoT revolution to shrimp farms throughout Vietnam becomes helpful as shrimp products account for 50% of the nation’s $8.8 billion worth of seafood exports in 2021.

The Vietnamese agritech company offers IoT solutions to improve operational efficiency, water quality control, and traceability in aquacultural enterprises, providing solutions to more than 1,500 shrimp farmers in Vietnam.

“Our mission is to use IoT and big data platforms to reduce costs, reduce pollution, secure traceability and resolve other practical problems arising in the aquaculture industry in order to optimize the value chain of Vietnamese aquaculture,” said Tepbac’s founder Tran Duy Phong.

“With technical and networking support from the GRAFT team, Tepbac has been more strategically engaged in shaping shrimp farming models of different scales. Tepbac’s maturity proves that GRAFT has chosen appropriate, effective and practical solutions so that not only Tepbac, but current and future customers of Tepbac are also getting the benefits,” shared Nguyen Duc Tung, Senior Technical Advisor from GRAFT Challenge Vietnam.

EveryPig (USA): EveryPig’s first-of-its-kind software programme for pork combines real-time digital health monitoring, telehealth, and treatment tracking to help pork farmers easily optimise their operations. EveryPig’s solution, launched three years ago, has also been adopted by agricultural management companies and veterinarians.

Hillridge Technology (Australia): Hillridge Technology provides a data-based solution, powered by proprietary algorithms, to digitally calculate and issue parametric micro insurance to smallholder farmers and enable them to recover from the impacts of poor weather. The company, founded in Australia, is working to ease the insurance claims process for crop and livestock farmers

JalaTech (Indonesia): JalaTech offers a precision, data-powered shrimp farm management platform that improves feed efficiency and health outcomes. JalaTech is used by thousands of shrimp farms across Indonesia and Southeast Asia, including Fresh Studio, Skretting, and Solvay.

Sufresca (Israel): Sufresca developed bio-based, easy-to-apply edible coatings that extend the shelf-life of fresh products for weeks under ambient conditions. The company, founded by three professors from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wants to limit food waste and reduce plastic packaging.