On a recent trip to Vietnam, I had the opportunity to see more of the country than just office landscapes. I was particularly keen to experience how the farmers live and grow their crops. We drove some 90 minutes out of Hanoi to meet several dairy farmers. I was impressed when I found out how Vietnamese farmers improve their income by simply increasing production. Sounds like a no-brainer right? But just try doing this in Europe with its milk quota systems, where production is frozen at a predefined level.
Another surprise was the milk price in Vietnam. This is between 60 and 65 US cents per kg for the best quality produce. Compare this to around 45 US cents for the same thing in Europe. Farmers in Vietnam have to squeeze as much as they can from the soil since land is scarce and it's difficult to get hold of more to produce the fodder you need for your cows. So the limiting production factor is simply land. Every farmer we met wanted to add more cows and boost his dairy output.
What can we learn from this example? Well it's this: Small-holder farmers in Vietnam have the freedom to behave in a more economical and entrepreneurial way than their larger-scale European counterparts in their highly regulated environment. This is not meant to be judgmental about European regulations. It's merely a personal observation.
Category: Food security: Farming, Livestock