Belgian bikers cycle to support sustainable food in Vietnam

Belgian bikers cycle to support sustainable food in Vietnam

in News

Between 14 and 22 April, 25 adventurous mountain bikers will cycle through tea fields, rice paddies and other natural wonders as part of the very first “Vredeseilanden Classic” in Vietnam. Beyond the sporting challenge, Classics’ participants are raising funds in Belgium to support farming families throughout VECO’s international network.

Supporting smallholder farmers in Latin America, Africa and Asia

Since 2010, Vredeseilanden (VECO in Belgium) has been organizing bike tours named “Vredeseilanden Classics” to raise funds for VECO’s projects worldwide. After three successful editions in Senegal, Vredeseilanden Classics have been organised in Benin, Nicaragua, Tanzania and Sulawesi in Indonesia. This year, for the first time, the event will take place in Vietnam.

The objective of the Vredeseilanden Classics is to raise funds to support the realization of VECO’s global vision: a world with production and consumption systems that allow poverty and hunger to be eradicated and that do not burden our planet more than it can bear. VECO’s role is to enable and support smallholder farmers to take up their role in rural poverty alleviation and to contribute to feeding a growing world population in a sustainable way. In cooperation with partner organisations, VECO identifies weak links in the chain between producers and end-consumers, creating structural solutions by forging alliances between farmers organisations, government institutions, companies, research institutes, consumer and their representative organisations.

Discovering Vietnam and VECO’s projects

The Classic’s tour will bring the enthusiastic bikers from Ba Vi, in Hanoi, to Halong Bay, on a 400-kilometer bicycle journey across some of Vietnam’s most breathtaking sceneries. Along the way, participants will have the opportunity to meet some of VECO’s partners in Vietnam such as the Tan Duc Cooperative, a farmer group producing safe vegetables in compliance with BasicGAP. Supported by VECO between 2008 and 2016, the Tan Duc Cooperative in Viet Tri, Phu Tho province, has implemented a Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) to guarantee the quality and safety of their members’ vegetables, hence providing a reliable yet affordable certification system to its members. The bikers will also visit My Lan Joint Stock Company, a tea factory where VECO built the capacity of local staff on farmer training as part of a project with Rainforest Alliance on sustainable tea certification.

Cycling across Phu Tho, Yen Bai, Tuyen Quang, Bac Kan, and Quang Ninh provinces, the bikers will discover a wide variety of sceneries ranging from Van Phu’s flat rice fields to Ha Long Bay’s World Heritage site as well as the mountainous landscapes of Ba Be National Park and Lake Thuy Dien Thac Ba. They will have to conquer deep valleys and steep hills throughout a journey that will lead them to cycle up to 1420 altitude meters within the space of a single day. By cycling through a wide range of countryside landscapes, participants will get a real feel of the importance of agriculture for rural families in Vietnam. Upon their return, they will become ambassadors of VECO in Belgium and continue their fundraising efforts.

How will the Classics support smallholder farmers in Vietnam?

Before flying to Vietnam for the Vredeseilanden Classic, each participant committed to raise a minimum of 3,000€ (72,000,000 VND) back home to support VECO’s work. Out of the total amount collected, 30% will go directly to VECO’s projects in Vietnam. The remaining amount will be dedicated to supporting VECO’s programme in other countries within the network.

In Vietnam, the funds raised will be used to support smallholder farmers to get a better income out of farming. VECO’s activities in Vietnam focus on supporting small-scale farmers and their organisations to improve their organisational and business capacity and transition towards safe & sustainable farming practices. VECO Vietnam also contributes to developing inclusive & sustainable value chains in the rice, vegetables and tea subsectors. It does so by improving market linkage and working with private actors to develop inclusive and sustainable business models while advocating the government for a more enabling environment for sustainable & inclusive food in Vietnam.

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Visit our project page to find out more about VECO Vietnam’s activities on safe vegetables & sustainable tea

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