It goes without saying the Mekong Delta boasts a rich diversity of foods and flavors, but farmers there for the most part are still living in poverty. To help the Mekong Delta provinces market their products to consumers, Vietnam Consulting Group (VCG) has chosen a new way of publicity: promoting the region’s specialties as a way of exercising its corporate social responsibility (CSR).
VCG has edited and published the “Southwestern Flavors” book series, which is part of the company’s research program to build local cuisine images, says Doan Huu Duc, founder and director of VCG. The company’s effort is aimed to boost competitiveness and promote the economic growth of 13 provinces in the Mekong Delta region, or Southwestern Vietnam, from its available values and resources, according to Duc.
The book has been used in a teaching program for the Place Marketing subject at the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program. “Mekong Delta residents work on farms of the rich agricultural land, but they have yet to enrich themselves on the Mother Land,” says Duc.
As such, VCG has decided to target the young generation to help the Southwestern region of the country with its local economic development. The first among the 13 “Southwestern Flavors” books is exclusively for students, allowing them to realize true values of agricultural products and local dishes, and treasure what they have.
Moreover, VCG is doing research on various projects aimed at stimulating the economic growth of the Mekong Delta region.
VCG’s journey of dedication for the region has attracted the participation of a number of organizations and individuals. Since 2002, the firm has joined hands with many units, including the HCMC Association of Consultants in Science Technology and Management, the Tien Giang Business Club in HCMC, the Saigon Innovation Hub and MekongSP Club, to launch a variety of charitable programs to provide support for economic development in the Mekong Delta.
The Mekong Delta region is rich in agricultural products, but farmers have yet to make the most of available resources in the modern life.
“In the Mekong Delta region, farmers spend much time and effort raising catfish, but sell it at a mere US$6 per kilogram (of finished products), while each piece of catfish fillet is priced a dozen times higher at a five-star restaurant,” Duc remarks.
Raw and unprocessed foods are not highly valued on the local and international markets. As such, farmers are in need of support in popularizing and promoting their farm produce.
The cooperation between VCG and other organizations is expected to focus on training farmers to market their products and stimulate startup activities.
Aside from providing training and education for students and farmers, VCG is also seeking ways to improve the skills of teachers about economics of specialties native to localities and startup innovation.
“Dong Thap Province is famous for Sen Hong Wine, which is made of sticky rice, lotus seeds, roots and embryos, while Tra Vinh and Bac Lieu provinces are famous for Xuan Thanh Wine and Cong Xi Wine, respectively. All the 13 provinces in the Mekong Delta region have their own famous specialties,” says Duc.
To popularize these specialties and preserve the regional cuisine, VCG has held a series of programs and activities to showcase the culinary culture of the Southwestern region and unlock its potential for the economic and tourism growth.
The firm has co-founded some associations and clubs, including the Mekong Delta Tourism Association and the Mekong Specialty Club, to connect with the community to foster tourism and create leverage for the regional economic development.
To further intensify its efforts, VCG also invited Michael Bao Huynh, a famous chef, to widely introduce the delicious dishes of the region.
Also, the firm has teamed up with Tien Giang University to kick off some cooking contests such as “Mekong Delta Specialty Contest” and “the Southern Folk Cake-Making Competition” to recall the culinary tradition of the Mekong Delta region and help the region draw more tourists.
Besides its day-to-day business operations, VCG has attached great importance to community activities, making much contribution to the society. Since 2012, the firm has served as a member of the business advisory board at UNICEF Vietnam. Some programs the firm has joined with the organization comprise “Believe in ZERO” and “Child Friendly Business in a Child Friendly City” to create a healthy environment for children in difficult conditions.
Furthermore, VCG has accompanied the 2030 Business Club under the Saigon Times Club over the past decades to build libraries and support poor students in remote areas through the club’s annual charity caravan.
By My Huyen