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Growing markets for Vietnam’s veggies

University of Adelaide agricultural graduate Rebecca McBride has been helping farmers in Vietnam take their vegetables to market.

As agricultural marketing officer working on an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project, Rebecca spent 12 months helping women from poor families in the north-west highlands to grow and market local indigenous vegetables in rapidly transforming markets.

The influence of agriculture was a big part of Rebecca’s upbringing and, growing up on her family’s cattle and sheep grazing farm in Kingston in the south-east of South Australia, she was involved with all aspects of farm work.

Rebecca combined her farming background with an interest in science, going on to complete a degree in Agricultural Science at the University of Adelaide, followed by a Master of Agricultural Business.

“My degrees opened me up to new ideas and areas of study and work that I had not heard of or considered before,” Rebecca says.

In the final year of her Masters, Rebecca’s name was put forward to work on a project in Vietnam with Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD), an AusAID funded volunteer program. She was accepted for the position and later that year moved to Hanoi, Vietnam to start her first job.

Rebecca assisted the project team with research, marketing strategies and promotional events aimed at helping farmers to better market a selection of indigenous vegetables. This included a cooking challenge where restaurants in a popular tourist destination competed in a cook-off designed to showcase three indigenous vegetables.

“The project succeeded in increasing the profile of the vegetables among the restaurants and tourists and was followed up with the production of recipe cards for higher end retailers in Hanoi,” says Rebecca.

Another goal of Rebecca’s work was to build capacity in her host organisation, the Vietnam Women’s Union – Rebecca says she thinks they learned a lot from each other throughout the year.

“I made the most amazing friends while living in Hanoi and they are one of the best things I will take from my experience,” she says.

Now working as a graduate officer with ACIAR’s agribusiness program, Rebecca is passionate about the future for agriculture and the positive impact that projects such as this can make in developing countries and Australia.

“My sister and I used to say that she would cure the world (she is now a doctor) and I would feed them, but it wasn’t until I started my Masters degree and then went on to be an AYAD in Vietnam that I saw how I could actually contribute to agricultural development.”

Rebecca McBride received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Science in 2008, a Master of Agricultural Business in 2010,  and a Professional Certificate in International Trade in 2010 from the University of Adelaide.

Source: Genevieve Sanchez, The University of Adelaide http://www.adelaide.edu.au/lumen/issues/58361/news58396.html