In September 2019, the Kick-Off Workshop for youth participation was held in Vietnam, with 4 participating cooperatives: Toan Thang Organic Rice Cooperative, Eakiet Coffee Cooperative, Minh Toan Loi Coffee Cooperative, Thang Binh Rice and Sugar Cane Cooperative. Half a year later, another set of two Kick-Off Workshops took place with participation of 8 cooperatives.
All of the cooperatives that joined the workshop in 2019 have now established young farmer groups; the official decision for their establishment has been made by the Board of Directors of cooperatives, house rules have been set by the young farmer groups and certified by BoD of cooperatives. The cooperatives are being coached by Tran Thi Tuyet, who is the Agriterra Business Advisor in charge of Agriterra’s Youth Program in Vietnam.
The young farmer groups organise both formal and informal activities, which serve different goals, like bonding between group members, raising awareness on the young farmer group and the cooperative and working on the action plan. The youth have a monthly meeting, celebrate each other’s birthdays with karaoke evenings and they get together to talk about their action plan (r.).
Three cooperatives out of the four that have attended the Kick-Off Workshop in 2019, decided to sell their products through Zalo and Facebook with the help of youth farmer groups and asked the young members to attend trade fairs as sales representatives.
Three other cooperatives subcontracted their marketing activities to the young farmer groups. The youngsters get paid through volume-based commission rules, of which the young people keep part of the income themselves and a fixed portion is given to the young farmer groups so that it can be invested in organizing group activities together, such as exchange visits in combination with site seeing, birthday celebrations and the like.
Another success story is that of Eakiet coffee cooperative in Vietnam, who subcontracted the coffee classification and grading work to young farmers instead of hiring external workers. The youth also take up a role in times of Covid-19, by implementation of cooperative social responsibilities like supporting the local community. They went out with their motorbikes and handed out face masks and hand sanitizers to passengers in the street and to each household. That way, they made their contribution to the community and raised awareness for the cooperative’s brand name.
The youth of Eakiet supported the local community after a natural disaster
Next to that, the young farmer groups participated in sport events organised by the cooperative and the local authority, like football, volleyball and dancing, in which the young farmers participate as a team. Their team spirit does not only benefit the bonding between the youth, it is also a way to promote the cooperative in a more fun and unusual way towards their own and other communities.
Supporting the local community is seen as one of the important and crucial roles a cooperative in Vietnam can and should play. After a flooding due to a typhoon in the central part of the country, Eakiet and Thang Binh cooperatives’ young farmer members collected food, clothing and money to support the local people in rebuilding from the disaster that had taken place.
Thang Binh Rice and Sugar Cane Cooperative started building rice processing workshops and subcontracted the youth to supervise the construction site, to ensure it is being build the right way. In addition, the cooperative’s Board of Directors has approved for two young farmers to study how to operate the rice processing machine, which means that as soon as the workshop is constructed, these youngsters will have a part-time job next to their farming business.
Youth of EaKiet cooperative at a trade fair (l.) and supporting the local community (m.,r.)