ILRI and CAP staff, with the support of provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development in Dong Nai, Dak Lak and Ha Tay, recently conducted market actor research during the period November 23 – December 13, 2008. CAP and ILRI staff spent a week in each location developing their understanding of the market actors involved in the Vietnamese pig sector and the pathways through which pig related commodities flow. Beyond this, the researchers looked to determine which actors are most important in terms of influencing important aspects of the market such as pricing and quality. The research aimed to verify and supplement the July/August 2008 pilot PRA assessments conducted by the project. The field research addressed all five objectives of the project to a greater or lesser extent, with a particular focus on objective 3.
In each province research began with market actor workshops, these utilised an adapted social network analysis technique devised by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The workshops were open and free-flowing affairs allowing participants to voice their thoughts and opinions as and when they wished. Each workshop involved an array of local actors from within each province invited by local DARD officials. The discussion was lively and expressive and contributed a number of confirmations and rebuttals of project hypotheses as well as uncovering several new actors, and links between actors, previously unrecognised.
The information gleaned in the workshops was then expanded upon during semi-structured key informant interviews with input and output market actors. Many of the interviewees were chosen specifically to elaborate on information uncovered within the workshops. The interviews provided an opportunity for the participants to expand on their own situation, their role within the sector, and their understanding of processes and actors within the local pig sector. The key informant interviews allowed researchers to dig deeper into specific areas of interest within the market value chain gaining valuable qualitative insights to supplement prior quantitative research.
Participants in each of the research locations included feed agents and piglet traders, producers and output actors such as pig traders, slaughterers, meat processors and a a variety of retailers.
There were marked differences between provinces but also key similarities the importance of which will become clearer as the analysis is completed. The variety of perspectives offered by the various participants involved in the field research demonstrated the complexity of the pig sector. The pig sector provides a both challenging and exciting topic for research; pigs are a vital part of rural lives here in Vietnam.