Business Business

06/04/2021 - 09:11

Raising Vietnamese agricultural products’ value with technology

"Using technology to raise the value of Vietnamese agricultural products" is the desire, which is gradually becoming a reality, of Pham Ngoc Anh Tung, a young Hue man. He is also the founder and operator of a "well-known" online agricultural products trading platform, the FoodMap.asia.

After nearly two years of being launched, this agricultural products trading platform has linked with more than 300 producers, and farmers; at the same time, it has served more than 10 thousand times of customers, and gained a growth rate of 20% per month.

Young people participate in transactions within the platform in Ho Chi Minh City

Getting close to the consumers

Starting with a passion for inventing robots and automation equipment in the agricultural sector, the young man, who was born in 1989, decided to quit his studies while he was a third year student in the talented engineer course of the Faculty of Electrical & Electronics Engineering, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, and went to Cau Dat Farm - Da Lat to do farming.

For three years being a director of this farm, Tung has had the opportunity to learn about the agriculture sector under the perspective of a manager, a direct producer, a buyer, a distributor, and also an exporter of agricultural products.

As Tung felt the difficulties of Vietnamese farmers with the story of "bigger crops, lower prices; smaller crops, higher prices", he once again decided to give up the position of a farm manager to return to Ho Chi Minh City, and started a new journey to set up a trading platform for agricultural products.

The founder of FoodMap shared: "FoodMap is built under the motto of bringing agricultural products straight from the farm to the table, so that both farmers and consumers can benefit the most".

The trading platform operates very simply, in which producers, farmers, and gardeners join FoodMap.asia by registering their information, FoodMap team will come to check the quality, and learn about specific stories regarding to the producers and their products. Then, FoodMap connects with consumers via sale channels such as online, offline stores, and product introduction fairs. The products qualities on the platform have been controlled in advance.

FoodMap usually has four criteria to evaluate the quality of the products. Firstly, the suppliers must have documents proving the origins of the products; secondly, their origins must have been traceable; thirdly, they must receive good feedback from the consumers; and finally, FoodMap team will come directly to the production place for evaluation.

Via these criteria, FoodMap will filter out the best quality suppliers and use technology applications such as Platform (running ads on Facebook, fan page, and e-commerce platform, etc.,) to introduce the products to customers."

There have been many difficulties when this project is implemented, as FoodMap is essentially a startup, whose capital is not large. Therefore, in the beginning, it was very difficult to convince suppliers to join the platform to sell online, as at that time Foodmap.asia did not have history of users’ data.

However, by helping small and medium suppliers tell their products’ stories, helping them to give more professional images to consumers, FoodMap has persuaded the suppliers to join the agricultural product trading platform.

Through numerous promotional campaigns, with a large amount of traffic (the number of people accessing and operating on FoodMap.asia’s website) and a large number of purchases, it has created the confidence for the manufacturers, so that they can participate in the platform for additional effective product distribution channels.

Tung confidently said: "FoodMap has now overcome the chicken and egg problem, many suppliers have come to FoodMap by themselves to propose the cooperation on the agricultural product trading platform".

Pham Ngoc Anh Tung with products on the platform

The dream of exporting agricultural products  

FoodMap can be considered as one of the first agricultural product trading platform in Vietnam, which is built in the model of connecting agriculture producers to consumers in the cities. FoodMap has brought quality-controlled products to e-commerce platforms.

With the bridge of FoodMap, the products of farming households without resources and experiences have been connected and traded on the e-commerce platforms including Lazada, and Tiki by FoodMap; FoodMap is also promoting to bring Vietnamese agricultural products to the international e-commerce platform of Amazon…

In early November 2020, right after successfully raising half a million USD from the venture capital fund Wavemaker Partners (Singapore), CEO Pham Ngoc Anh Tung tested the model of the first experience store O2O2O (online to offline to online) in Ho Chi Minh City. This is FoodMap's first trial fair for agricultural specialties; in which, exhibitors had the opportunities to display their products for free, and supported to improve their brand names identification on online platforms by FoodMap. In near future, this event will be held periodically once a month in Ho Chi Minh City, and it will be expanded to the whole country if possible.

As Tung travelled to many countries around the world and noticed that Vietnamese agricultural products were absent from the supermarket shelves, he has always kept the thought of how to bring Vietnamese agricultural products there; and how, instead of just being famous for "exporting raw products", Vietnam will export agricultural products with "brand name and high value" abroad. It is Pham Ngoc Anh Tung’s "a big dream".

With the financial support from the venture capital fund Wavemaker Partners, FoodMap has stronger investment in technology platforms including information technology, building distribution systems, and developing retail markets. But, in the long term, "FoodMap will become a major exporter of agricultural products of Vietnam."

Tung shared: "Starting a business is not for the masses, but for the right people. If young people want to start a business, they need to do it with 100 percent of their energy and mentality. As for the agricultural sector, I think there are many challenges because Vietnam has not yet a developed agriculture. There are many difficulties, but there are also many opportunities."

With practical and creative activities, at the end of 2019, FoodMap was honored to represent Vietnam to participate in the final round of the Asia Innovates 2019, which was organized by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Newton Foundation in Malaysia, and won the Most Impactful Innovation award.

Story and photos: Dang Tuan Anh

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