Discussion Papers

No.840 Governance of fertilizer quality in Vietnam: government and market initiatives

by Emi Kojin, Do Van Hoang, Nguyen Thiet, Yutaka Arimoto,
Vo Hong Tu, Yukichi Mano, Nguyen Duy Can, Kazunari Tsukada

March 2022


Governance of fertilizer quality is an important topic of food policy because prevalence of low-quality fertilizers hinders the farmers’ use of fertilizers and stagnate agricultural productivity growth. This paper investigates the prevalence of low-quality fertilizers and describes the initiatives and measures that have been taken against the problem. We tested 141 randomly sampled fertilizers in the Mekong Delta region to examine the quality of fertilizers in the market and find that the average deviation rate from the nutrient levels indicated on the label is small. However, the quality varies substantially, and half of the samples have at least one nutrient less than the legal threshold. We conduct in-depth field observations and interviews with stakeholders and identify three initiatives to control fertilizer quality in the markets: 1) government regulation and control through licensing, mandatory quality labeling, and random inspections; 2) producer’s effort in maintaining quality and brand through warranty and dealer certifications; and 3) retailers’ updating of product assortments based on farmers’ feedback. We highlight the importance of public regulations by discussing how government and market initiatives interact and complement each other.

Keywords: low-quality fertilizer, experience goods, Vietnam

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