The Hanoitimes - The final workshop to review three-year implementation of the ‘Making Markets Work Better for the Poor, Phase 2’ (M4P2) project, managed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), was held today in Hanoi.
The new approach which empowers farmers through collaboration with enterprises has been tested in seven Vietnam Challenge Fund (VCF) projects to make Vietnam ’s rural markets function better, and with greater fairness, for the poor men and women that participate in them.
The projects are ranging from pro-poor mushroom-growth technology, to ethnic minority’s organic tea, origin traceable H’mong beef, fertilizer produced from cassava waste, semi-washed Robusta coffee, pomelo, and quality-controlled fish production for international supermarket chains.
The projects were implemented by a range of grantee companies, from household enterprises, to joint venture companies, foreign multinationals and state owned enterprises, reflecting the diversity of businesses operating in Vietnam ’s agricultural sector.
The VCF awarded cost-sharing grants to these typically risky but highly prospective projects, tested new supply chain systems and initiatives, and the successful projects now offer business models with much wider applicability and greater scalability across Vietnam . Total grant funding by VCF was just over US$1.26m, with a further US$2.45m sourced from participating companies.
Initial results show that around 16,900 people have seen a positive impact on their incomes and livelihoods as a result of the VCF projects, which is the major component of M4P2. Over 2,100 jobs have been created across the VCF’s portfolio of projects. The indirect impact is expected to be much larger as the new models which prove successful will be replicated.
“The concept behind the challenge fund originated in the UK , but is relatively new to Vietnam ” says Ms Fiona Lappin, Head of DFID Vietnam. “Fundamentally, the Vietnam Challenge Fund aims to harness one of the core strengths of the private sector in Vietnam – its ability to generate and invest in new ideas - use it for the benefit of the poor, through commercially viable business models with a strong social impact.”
The other innovative instrument of the three-year initiative M4P2 is Policy Action Research,aimed at instigating policy change at the district, provincial and national levels. It focuses on unblocking the constraints that communities and businesses face when seeking to move people out of poverty. It aimed to link policy design with practical pilot experimentation, so as to develop better, demand-driven and more informed policies, using grants totalling US$ 500,000, disbursed to nine research institutes in Vietnam .
“The policy action research has been conducted in a new way by linking policy design with practical pilot experimentation, so as to develop better, demand driven and more informed policies,” stressed Tomoyuki Kimura, ADB Country Director for Vietnam .
“The approach has required researchers to take a more involved role with other key stakeholders in planning and implementing tangible change, and working with ‘champions of change’ across a number of levels of Government – including the district, provincial and national levels.”
The project has worked across a number of markets, and proved successful. As markets further expand and deepen they can be the most powerful way of pulling people out of poverty in a sustainable way.
“Through a number of innovative projects and tangible policy changes the M4P2 project has increased opportunities for the poor to participate in – and benefit from – the economic growth process, in locations as far as in Cao Bang and Quang Tri,” said Hoang Viet Khang, General Director of the Foreign Economic Relations Department at MPI