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The participation of the poor in supermarket-driven chains in Vietnam

Moustier P., Figuié M., Dao Thê Anh, Phan Thi Giac Tam, Vu Trong Binh, Nguyen Thi Tan Loc. 2007. In : Pro-poor development in low-income countries : food, agriculture, trade and environement. 106th EAAE Seminar, October 23-27, 2007, Montpellier-Palavas, France. Montpellier : CIRAD, 26 p.. EAAE Seminar. 106, 2007-10-25/2007-10-27, Montpellier (France).

In Vietnam, the marketing of fruits and vegetables is characterized by a diversity of distribution chains that includes formal markets, street vendors, shops and supermarkets. Presently, the government is promoting the expansion of supermarket distribution and eliminating all informal trade. The study investigates the hypothesis that due to the use of labor-saving and capital intensive technologies employed by supermarkets, poorer segments of the population may be excluded from potential benefits. Surveys of poor consumers' access to different retailing points were made in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Case studies built around vegetable, lychee and flavored rice chains based on in-depth interviews with representative samples of stakeholders along the chains investigated poor farmers' and traders' participation in distribution value chains. Markets and street vendors are still the dominant forces in food distribution when measured by absolute quantities sold and number of people employed. Street vending and markets generate substantially more employment by volume of business than supermarkets, especially for the poor. They are also the main points of sale for the poor consumers, who rarely purchase in supermarkets, because of price and distance constraints. Poor farmers have no direct access to supermarkets because of the requirements in terms of safety (for vegetables), quantities and conditions of delivery (for all products). Yet they can be indirect suppliers of supermarkets through belonging to (or contracting with) farmers' associations that are involved in quality development and control through training and credit programs. Policy recommendations aimed at maintaining the diversity of retail trade are finally made.

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