Independent Evaluation of the FDOV Project “Pro Poor Potato”
The key aim of the Pro Poor Potato project was to develop a sustainable potato value chain in Vietnam. Project results include the introduction of new higher quality varieties of potato into the Vietnamese market, training over 2,500 potato farmers, and increasing consumer awareness of the nutritional value and versatility of potato consumption.
The relevance of the project was high with respect to the income generation needs of base-of-the-pyramid (BoP) producers. The project aimed to increase the income levels of smallholder farmers as well as to improve the food security of the consumers and the smallholder farmers themselves. With respect to food security, the project was less relevant. The country has developed beyond the level in which (part of) its inhabitants suffer from a shortage in caloric intake. Potatoes do have more micronutrients compared to rice. However, the Vietnamese perceive the potato as a replacement for vegetables rather than rice.
The funding made available through FDOV was additional and enabled knowledge sharing between project partner Fresh Studio, farmers, traders, retailers and end-consumers. It is very unlikely that Fresh Studio was able to do this in the absence of public funding. The input additionality of the PepsiCo contribution on the other hand is low. PepsiCo fully financed the training and TA given to its own contract farmers. This contribution was used as the private sector contribution to the FDOV project, but PepsiCo’s activities stand largely on their own. Providing assistance to contract farmers is beneficial for PepsiCo. It thus seems unlikely that PepsiCo would not have financed and provided training and TA to these farmers without the FDOV project.
The project was effective in contributing to the overall development of the private sector. Fresh Studio developed an extensive network of value chain parties during previous projects and cooperated appropriately with the stakeholders in the current project. The project successfully registered new potato varieties but this took considerably longer than expected. Monitoring data show a twenty percent increase in yield from 2016/2017 to 2018/2019. No data from before 2016 is available, but it seems unlikely that significant yield improvements were realised before 2016. The Dutch cultivars also offer a slight price premium over their main German competitors.
The sustainability of the project is high. The newly introduced Dutch varieties are competitive against other locally produced potato varieties. Chinese imports remain cheaper and available year-round however. This means that the Dutch potatoes will have to be positioned as a premium product. Vietnamese consumers appear to be prepared to pay extra for potatoes produced in Vietnam. The commitment of Fresh Studio to the Vietnamese agricultural sector is high. Fresh Studio indicates it will remain active in stimulating the development of potatoes in Vietnam.
This report evaluates the ‘Pro Poor Potato’ project in Vietnam. The project received a subsidy from the Dutch government under the Facility for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security (FDOV), implemented by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl). FDOV supports public-private partnerships aimed at improving private sector development and food security in developing countries. This evaluation is the third out of five FDOV project evaluations that are being carried out for RVO.nl by SEO, PwC and AIGHD. This project evaluation was carried out by SEO.
This is a mixed-method evaluation. Qualitative evaluation methods included the development of a Theory of Change, semi-structured interviews with project partners, farmers, and other key stakeholders (both during the field visit to Vietnam and in the Netherlands), as well as the analysis of project documents and other relevant literature. Quantitative evaluation methods included descriptive statistical analysis of project monitoring data, and farm-level data collected using a survey by Vietinsight.
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