Project: Supporting the Tan Dat Organic Rice Cooperative to grow, certify and trade organic food

The aim of the project is to assist the Tan Dat Organic Rice Production and Agricultural Services Cooperative and the Federation of Organic Rice Cooperative in Trung Ngai Commune, Vung Liem District of Vinh Long province, Mekong River Delta, Vietnam to grow, certify and trade organic food national and internationally.

Origin of the project

The Tan Dat Organic Rice Production and Agricultural Services Cooperative is located at 93, Kinh hamlet, Trung Ngai commune, Vung Liem district, Vinh Long province. From the public healthcare background, Mr Doan Van Tai (Director of the cooperative) has recognized the negative impacts of synthetic chemicals on human health, especially the food we eat from agriculture. He switched from working for the healthcare system to becoming a farmer applying sustainably growing methods in agriculture. In 2011, Mr Tai converted conventional to organic rice farming with 6.5 ha of his own land. His initiative grew steadily. Since 2017, he has established the Tan Dat Organic Rice Production and Agricultural Services Cooperative with a strong focus on producing certified organic rice, rice-based products, and supplying agricultural services such as seeding, transplanting, cleaning and sorting. There are 65 members in the cooperative, all of them are the local people in the village. The total growing area was 62 ha in 2020. The organically grown area is 50 ha. The buffer zone is 12 ha. In the coming years, the Tan Dat organic rice production and agricultural services cooperative aims to collaborate with other four cooperatives in the district to expand the growing area up to 2,290 ha and organic certify for 270 ha in 2023.

Photo: The location of the Tan Dat Cooperative in the Mekong Delta, August 2021
Photo: The closer map of the Tan Dat Cooperative inside Trung Ngai Commune, Vung Liem District, Vinh Long province, August 2021

On 19 November 2019,Dr Van Kien Nguyen, Director of Mekong Organics PTY LTD and his team members visited the the Tan Dat Organic Rice Production and Agricultural Services Cooperative in the research project entitled “perception of organic industry in Vietnam” funded by SEARCA, the Philippines.

We had a chance to learn about their organic rice farming initiative and the way in which the new form of agriculture cooperative has operated the certified organic rice farming successfully.

We spent 3 hrs for talking together, then visited the rice fields, local water system, storages, rice mills and other facilities, with a special dinner with organic purple rice wine before we left the cooperative towards to Ho Chi Minh City, Tay Ninh, Binh Phuoc, Lam Dong, and Ba Ria Vung Tau province.

Since then Mekong Organics and the Tan Dat Organic Rice Production and Agricultural Services Cooperative have had several calls and meetings via zooms to discuss the MoU for cooperation. Details of the MoU are here!

Photo: Dr Van Kien Nguyen (CEO of Mekong Organics, team members, and farmers from Soc Trang province visited the cooperative on 19 November 2019
Photo: Dr Van Kien Nguyen (CEO of Mekong Organics, team members, and farmers from Soc Trang province visited the cooperative on 19 November 2019

Photo: The Mekong Organics team visited the organic rice fields of the Tan Dat Cooperative

One member of the Tan Dat Cooperative (Mr Nguyen Hoang Khang) was selected to participate in the Australia organic study tour planned in March 2020. However, the covid-19 pandemic disrupted this trip. Mekong Organics decided to host a virtual study tour for partners and farmers in Vietnam to exchange organic farming, certification and trade with the Australian farmers under the project Virtual Australia-Vietnam Organic Agriculture Partnership, funded by the Rotary Club of Hall in Canberra, Australia. The members of the Tan Dat Cooperative actively joined this initiative throughout the series of visits.

Photo: Mr Nguyen Hoang Khang, a member of Mekong Organics as well as a local supporter for the Tan Dat Cooperative to participated in the event, presented by an Australian organic rice farmer, Mr Peter Randall, Randall Organic Rice in Murrami, NSW Australia, via Zoom on 27 March 2021, and other events.

The cooperation between the Tan Dat Cooperative and Mekong Organics is growing fruitfully. On 23 August 2021, the Mekong Organics team and the Tan Dat Cooperative hosted a virtual meeting to discuss further collaboration and support. We all agreed that Mekong Organics will seek resources both in-kind and finance to assist the Tan Dat Cooperative while the Cooperative will actively share their data and information in order to develop organic rice production, certification and trade sustainably. The project is funded by Mekong Organics (in-kind contribution) of human resources and expertise, and is co-designed with the Tan Dat Cooperative to undertake several steps from 2021- 2025.

1/ Step 1: Understanding the internal and external resources of the Tan Dat Cooperative. This task will be co-designed and co-analysed between Mekong Organics and the Tan Dat Cooperative. This process will make sure that the Cooperative will be empowered with their ability to collect data to understand their resources. This process may take up to 2-3 months. We use Zoom to work together. 

2/ Step 2: Collected data in step 1 will be used to develop a business plan for the Cooperative in the next 5 years. This include (1) several of training for key members of the Cooperative, through the organic food production, certification and trade training under the Australia-Vietnam Enhanced Economic Engagement Grant Program funded by the Australian Government: https://mekongorganics.com/promoting-organic-food-certification-trade-between-australia-and-vietnam/ and (2) advise the Australian organic certification process for NASAA (NCO) standards, for the Tan Dat Cooperative (62 ha) and the extended to the Federation of Organic Rice Cooperative in Vung Liem province (270 ha). We aim to develop the ICS (internal control system) scheme for organic smallholder farmers in this region.

3/ Step 3: Mekong Organics will introduce the Tan Dat Cooperative with the import-export organic rice companies and in Vietnam and in Australia to promote organic food trade between Australia & Vietnam, in the Australia-Vietnam Organic Food Trade Forum under the Australia-Vietnam Enhanced Economic Engagement Grant Program funded by the Australian Government: https://mekongorganics.com/promoting-organic-food-certification-trade-between-australia-and-vietnam/ . We also connect the Tan Dat cooperative with other local companies who demand for organic feeds such as broken rice and rice brane for feeding organic animals and fish.

4/ Step 4: Developing and promoting value -added products from rice, prawn, herbs, vegetables and fruits on the certified organic farms and link to the Australian market

Mekong Organics is seeking for funds to implement this initiative.

We expect to receive partly fund from the Project: Organic Farming in the Mekong Delta Vietnam (RAOAF), call for donation by the Rotary Club of Hall, Canberra, Australia.

https://donations.rawcs.com.au/116-2019-20?fbclid=IwAR1tPXikZUCG9__WyTeWSB1NgfM_fsc7yftk-IgRt3Zn-QUs_Bkzm1AVHsw

Photo: Mekong Organics team and CEO of the Tan Dat Cooperative had a zoom meeting on 21 Sep 2021 to discuss about the future collaboration

The project progress will be updated monthly on this website.

Some key features of the Tan Dat Organic Rice Cooperative for more information

Photo: organic rice on the farms of the Tan Dat Cooperative
Photo: 5 ha of prawn (tom cang xanh) is integrated into the organic rice-freshwater prawn system
Photo: Ecological farm approach using native flowers to attract beneficial insects
Photo: Rice mill and storage of the Tan Dat Cooperative
Photo: Tan Dat Organic Rice is listed as the speciality of Vinh Long Food
Photo: The involvement of women in organic farming, processing and trade
Photo: The founders of the Tan Dat Organic Rice Cooperative, Mr Tai and Mrs Nga
Photo: Tan Dat Organic Rice was granted by the OCOP program
Photo: the members of the Tan Dat Organic Rice Cooperaive