Vietnamese youth get in touch with agriculture and the Netherlands: a company visit to De Heus Animal Nutrition Vietnam

To inspire youth on the opportunities of the agricultural sector, the Empower Youth4Food campaign (EY4F) was started. Company visits are a crucial part of the campaign, as they offer students real-world career insights and inspire future choices. A group of 25 young Vietnamese students and young professionals recently visited De Heus in Vietnam. What was their experience?

On 25th June 2024, a group of 25 young Vietnamese consisting of students and young professionals had the opportunity to visit De Heus, a leading feed company with Dutch roots. The visit was part of the Empower Youth4Food campaign, which aims to boost the enthusiasm of youth to enter the agricultural sector.

Empower youth for food

While Vietnam becomes an increasingly visible player on the global agriculture stage, the country faces challenges in modernizing food production and ensuring sustainable food production. The sector struggles to attract young talent, who see it as outdated and lacking future prospects. Consequently, the decline in the number of farmers, coupled with an aging demographic, hinders the adoption of innovative technologies and contemporary farming practices, impacting the entire food system. To inspire youth on the opportunities of the agricultural sector, the Empower Youth4Food campaign (EY4F) was started. The initiative is supported by the Netherlands Embassy in Hanoi, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and managed by Nuffic Southeast Asia.

Real-world career insights

Company visits are a crucial part of the campaign, as they offer students real-world career insights and inspire future choices. Visits to companies also bridge classroom learning with practical business operations and provide networking opportunities. The aim of EY4F is that observing inspiring agricultural workplaces will motivate students, by showing them how impressive and high-tech the agricultural sector can be. This is why the Netherlands and Vietnam work together on this challenge, as the Netherlands is known for its advanced agricultural sector.

Royal De Heus is an internationally operating company with a leading position in the animal feed industry. Their headquarters is in The Netherlands and has many production locations worldwide, whereof 18 production locations can be found all over Vietnam. As De Heus is a notable example of opportunities within the high-tech agricultural industry in Vietnam, it was a great place for the first company visit of the campaign within Vietnam. During the tour, participants explored De Heus’ global aquaculture Research & Development facility in Vinh Long where they learned about research systems for various aquaculture species. This was followed by a visit to the animal feed factory to learn more about sustainable practices and innovations in feed production and the agriculture value chain.

"Nourishing future generations is a mission we stand for, and this also means empowering young people by giving them opportunities to learn, to explore and feel inspired. Most of our participants are first year students from Can Tho University who were curious and engaged, and we absolutely feel inspired by their energy as well. We hope that participants get a sneak peak into the operations of a global animal nutrition company and understand more about sustainable development, and most importantly to have better visibility into how they will significantly contribute to the future of agriculture and food.”- Nguyen Thu Thuy, Sustainability Manager Asia & Vietnam, De Heus Animal Nutrition.

Student experiences

The visit attracted a variety of students, beyond those who already chose to study agriculture. One of them is Le Lu Huyen Tran, a second-year Software Engineering student at Can Tho University. After graduation she aspires to become an IoT equipment engineer in agriculture, helping farmers work less strenuously and contributing to the production of high-quality agricultural products. “That’s why I wanted to explore the production processes at De Heus. I was impressed by the modern machinery and the dedicated people working to create sustainable products and contribute to the agricultural value chain. I hope that Vietnam's agriculture will always develop with sustainability in mind, providing fresh, clean, and high-quality products. I also hope that more young people will contribute to this development and help the agricultural sector grow further with advancements in machinery and technology”.

The event was also promoted and attended by Dear Our Community, which is an impact-driven company from Vietnam that provides multi-channel content and learning solutions for sustainability-driven careers targeting the youth in Vietnam. In their mission to inspire the young generation in Vietnam to become more involved and shape a sustainable future, they have been creating a video with De Heus under their Content Series that will become available on their website.

The way forward

In the coming months the campaign will focus on numerous other activities that aim to improve the reputation of agricultural education and agricultural employment among more and more young people in Vietnam. These include specific activities tailored for Vietnam, such as webinars, guest lectures, a video competition and an innovation challenge. Upcoming activities will be promoted on the Empower Youth4Food website and Instagram.