Queen Máxima of the Netherlands made a field visit to the Horti Dalat project in Vietnam earlier this week.
Visiting the Asian nation in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s special advocate on inclusive finance for development, Queen Máxima observed the country’s developing national strategy for inclusive finance.
The strategy aims to improve the economic position of Vietnamese citizens, with only one-third of the country’s adult population currently having access to formal financial services.
The Horti Dalat project provides a case study of what can be archived through the strategy, with the development and introduction of a new financial product allowing participating farmers to access modern production technologies.
The commercial loans underpinning the project are a new type of non-secured loan, which is disbursed to carefully selected vegetables growers, who must present a viable business case and cash flow plan.
The first six pilot vegetable growers involved in the Horti Dalat project used the loan to invest in protected cultivation (greenhouses) and fertigation systems.
The financial product for the Dalat area was developed with the support of the Rabobank Foundation and disbursed to farmers through Sacombank. Vietnam-based consulting and R&D company Fresh Studio provides technical support to the farmers and monitors their financial performance to ensure they are successful with their investment.
In a discussion with Queen Maxima, one of the pilot farmers explained how this new solution has allowed him to get a loan, without mortgaging his land. As a result, he has significantly increased his income, and will earn his investment back within three years.
“Together with our project partners we are able to show the positive impact on farmers lives and sustainable farming through inclusive agribusiness and access to finance to invest,” said René van Rensen, R&D director crops of Fresh Studio.
“We are pleased to directly share our experiences and insights from this project with Queen Máxima. We hope this will be a valuable input for her further meetings in Vietnam to advocate inclusive finance services for farmers.”
Following the field visit, Queen Máxima returned to Ho Chi Minh City to meet with representatives of agricultural businesses and civil society organisations regarding the financing of more agricultural activities in the Asian nation.
The positive result of the Horti Dalat project has prompted Rabobank Foundation and Sacombank to extend their horticulture financing model to more Vietnamese farmers. Fresh Studio will assist Sacombank in the process of farmer selection, business planning, farm monitoring and training of the farmers in using the new technologies.