|Khmer people in Tra Vinh.have made a fortune from Sokfarm’s coconut nectar products. Photo: DNCC|
Elevate local produce
Pham Dinh Ngai, Sokfarm’s CEO, said that the word “Sok” in Khmer means happiness and Sokfarm means happy farming.
Coconut is a very popular tree grown in Tra Vinh – the hometown of Thach Thi Chal Thi – Ngai’s wife.
Because there was no processing factory, the price of coconuts in Tra Vinh was always lower than that in Ben Tre. With the desire to enhance the value of coconut trees as well as bring better living standards to the Khmer people in Tra Vinh, Mr and Mrs. Pham Dinh Ngai – Master of Electrical Engineering and Ms. Thach Thi Chal Thi – Master specializing in food technology, decided to return to his hometown to start up from coconut trees.
|Established in 2013, until now, SKC Project has organized programs such as coaching – training, seminars – forums – talks, market promotion, communication and organizing the contest: “Start-up innovation from indigenous resources”. Up to now, the contest has attracted nearly 1,170 projects and ideas with about 1,598 participants through eight times of organization.|
Thanks to that, the products of coconut nectar, coconut flower sugar, fermented coconut nectar, coconut nectar soy sauce, etc., were created and received very positively by the market.
Notably, the extraction of nectar from coconut flowers is a traditional profession of the Khmer that has been lost for a long time. Currently, Sokfarm’s products have been officially exported to Japan and the Netherlands.
Mr. Pham Dinh Ngai said that although the number of official export orders only accounts for 10%, this has cleared the way for products from coconut nectar to overseas markets. Sokfarm expects to increase the proportion of exports to 50%.
Similarly, starting from centella asiatica of Cu Chi (HCMC), Quang Thanh freeze-dried vegetable powder products of Viet Nature Company have boomed such as perilla powder, lettuce powder, moringa powder, lotus leaf powder.
Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Huong, Director of Viet Nature Company, said that currently, the company’s 5 products are Orama sugar-free gotu kola powder, perilla powder, lettuce powder, lotus leaf powder and moringa powder were recognized by the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City of meeting the 4-star OCOP standard in the recruitment process in March 2022. Particularly, Orama sugared gotu kola powder is being nominated as a 5-star OCOP product.
Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Huong added that, besides being present in retail channels throughout the country, the company’s products have now been successfully exported to many countries such as Korea, China, India and many European countries.
This is a guarantee of the quality of the product. Ms. Huong added the company would invest more in product research and improve production capacity to expand distribution and export to many other fastidious markets.
“Agribusiness” comes from local resources
Both Viet Nature Company and Sokfarm share one thing in common – the two projects won the first prize in the Startup Project contest in 2019 and 2020 organized by the Bright Club. Start-up Creation (SKC), which was founded and operated by the Business Research and Support Center (BSA).
Vu Kim Hanh, Director of BSA, said that SKC has supported and promoted start-ups and owners in terms of product development, service, market orientation, product packaging standardization, financial and business planning, and gradually conquering domestic and foreign standards. Thereby, forming a generation of “agricultural entrepreneurs” associated with agriculture and rural areas, effectively exploiting indigenous resources in order to produce unique products.
|Pham Dinh Ngai said advice and support from experts have inflamed his love for coconut trees and made it no longer “foolish love” but become grounded, with solid arguments. Experts have helped him map out the business plan as well as the market problem so that he can confidently walk on the path he has chosen. This also means that the love for coconut trees is nurtured larger, more durable to take the products further, and better known to bring happiness to coconut growers in Tra Vinh.|
Vu Kim Anh, in charge of the SKC network, said that over the years, the BSA Center and the SKC project have delegated startups, experts and businesses to go to localities and factories to learn experiences on product development, business development, and construction of raw material areas.
Besides, nearly 10,000 start-up businesses participated in the fairs of high-quality Vietnamese goods, Kind Green fair, agriproduct market, start-up fair and international trade promotion events such as ASEAN – India International Fair held in Thailand, ThaiFex Food and Beverage Fair, Upper Sial Fair Hai in China to find markets, find out product trends.
Along with that, there are online connection programs to the Australian and Korean markets, which have been held for many years.
Thanks to the support of the SKC project, many start-up businesses have developed and grown continuously, building standards such as HACCP, ISO, FDA, OCOP.
Especially, many start-up enterprises have achieved high-quality Vietnamese goods certifications from 2020 to 2022, such as Quang Thanh gotu kola powder, Ong Sau’s water coconut nectar, Sokfarm coconut nectar, Moringa in My Garden, Dinh Gia Food, Huong Dong Thap.
Among them, many friends Young start-ups have been exporting stably to the markets of Europe, America, Australia, and Asia.
For example, thanks to guidance from SKC experts, Yes Hue changed the packaging, and brand identity, and launched new products, thereby expanding the distribution network into large supermarkets.
Alternatively, the “Wild shrimp” brand name, starting from selling ecological shrimp, now, this brand is moving to a new model of ecotourism based on specific instructions from experts.