Establishing a Transformative Learning Framework for Promoting Organic Farming in Northern Vietnam: A Case Study on Organic Tea Production in Thai Nguyen Province


  • Tuan Minh Ha Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry, Thai Nguyen city, Vietnam.


Organic tea, Food safety, Transformational learning, Perception, Stakeholders, Collaboration, Production, Export


Tea is one of the important cash crops for smallholder farmers in Thai Nguyen, a northern province of Vietnam. The increasing demands for food safety and environmental sustainability have led to development of organic tea farming in the area. However, due to a number of challenges such as inappropriate awareness and vision amongst tea growers, small-scale production, poor resources, limited market information and linkages, and costly third party certification of organic products,… only a few farmers pursue organic production practice. This paper provides an in-depth context analysis using SWOT mapping tool and formulates a transformative learning framework with detailed process steps as a guide for developers and practitioners to facilitate successful transformation of their mindset and thus appropriate actions among conventional and/or non-organic farmers towards environmentally sound practices. Critical reflection, shared vision and enhanced communication among stakeholders are needed. Likewise, the paper also emphasizes holistic and participatory approaches in understanding the context, defining real issues, engagement of stakeholders and importance of true participation and multi-stakeholder collaboration for sustainable outcomes. Besides, raising awareness and facilitating readiness for change among nonorganic tea growers should not be separated from other interventions by the government and other stakeholders.



Author Biography

Tuan Minh Ha, Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry, Thai Nguyen city, Vietnam.

Faculty of Agronomy, Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture & Forestry, Thai Nguyen city, Vietnam.


• ACI. 2004. Linking the poor with tea value chains. [28 Mar. 2009].

• ADB. 2010. Project Information Document: Quality and Safety Enhancement of Agriculture Products. [1th May 2010].

• Akdere M. 2005. Appreciative inquiry: A field study of community development. Systemic Practice and Action Research 18(1): 21-34.

• Allen P, Kovach M. 2000. The capitalist composition of organic: The potential of markets in fulfilling the promise of organic agriculture. Agriculture and human values 17(3): 221-232.

• Andrews C. Year. A critical reflection on transformational learning practice. In Proceedings of the HERDSA 2005 conference proceedings, NSW. Available at:

• AsiaDHRRA. 2008. Value chain analysis report: Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam: Linking small farmers to market project, Asian Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Asia: Manila.

• Beckhard R. 1987. Organizational transitions : managing complex change / Richard Beckhard, Reuben T. Harris. Reading, Mass : Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.: Reading, Mass.

• Bennett C. 2010. Program development questions at the KASA level. [2nd May 2010].

• Brugha R, Varvasovszky Z. 2000. Stakeholder analysis: a review. Health Policy and Planning 15(3): 239-246.

• Burns R. 2002. The adult learning at work: the challenges of lifelong education in the new millennium. In Adult learning for regional development: Book of reading, School of Integrative Systems: QLD.


• CPC. 2010. Appreciative Inquiry. [30th April 2010].

• Dam ND, Canh DX, Ha NTT, Van Tan N, Thieu ND. Year. Vietnam Organic Agriculture: An Overview on Current Status and Some Success Activities. In Proceedings of the The 4th ANSOFT Workshop, 18-20 October 2012, Gwangju/Jeonam. Available at:

• Dang MV. 2005. Soil-plant nutrient balance of tea crops in the northern mountainous region, Vietnam. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 105(1-2): 413-418.

• Diamantopoulou P, Voudouris K. 2008. Optimization of water resources management using SWOT analysis: the case of Zakynthos Island, Ionian Sea, Greece. Environmental geology 54(1): 197-211.

• Dick B. 1991. Helping groups to be effective: skills, processes & concepts for group facilitation (2 ed.). Interchange: Chapel Hill.

• Dittrich P. 2012. Organic agriculture - Information note. In Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition. European Commission.

• Ecolink. 2006a. Organic tea program in Thai Nguyen province. . [7 April 2009].

• Ecolink. 2006b. Promoting market opportunities at the Base of the Pyramids (BOP), Ecolink Co. Ltd.: Hanoi.

• Fell R. 2005. Extending the use of adult learning principles from training to extension activities. [1th May 2010].

• Fell R. 2010. Putting the action into action learning through training for extension practitioners. In Adult learning for regional development: Book of readings, School of Integrative Systems, The University of Queensland: QLD.

• Foley G (ed). 2004. Dimensions of Adult Learning: Adult education and training in a global era Allen & Unwin: NSW.

• Golder B. 2005. Cross-cutting tool Stakeholder analysis. [17 May 2009].

• Goletti F, Nguyen TMH. 2008. Quality and safety improvement in agricultural products project: Institutional analysis and capacity building, Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development: Hanoi.

• Graham D. 2009. Leadership theory applied to group leadership and facilitation. In Leading and facilitating groups - book of reading, University of Queensland: QLD; 39-41.

• Ha TM. 2007. Research on bioslurry use in tea production in Thai Nguyen province. In The national biogas program. Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture & Forestry: Thai Nguyen.

• Heemskerk J, Maden Rvd. 2010. Farmer fighting poverty: save money with safe tea. [2nd May 2010].

• Houben G, Lenie K, Vanhoof K. 1999. A knowledge-based SWOT-analysis system as an instrument for strategic planning in small and medium sized enterprises. Decision support systems 26(2): 125-135.

• IFOAM. 2008. Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS). The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). [27 April 2014].

• Jimenez JJ. 2006. Organic agriculture and the millennium development goals. Allemagne: IFOAM.

• Keefe MR, Pesut D. 2004. Appreciative inquiry and leadership transitions. Journal of Professional Nursing 20(2): 103-109.

• Kolb AY, Kolb DA. 2005. Learning styles and learning spaces: Enhancing experiential learning in higher education. Academy of Management Learning & Education 4(2): 193-212.

• Lapar MLA, Binh VT, Son NT, Tiongco M, Jabbar M, Staal S. Year. The role of collective action in overcoming barriers to market access by smallholder producers: some empirical evidence from Northern Vietnam. In Proceedings of the Workshop on" Collective Action and Market Access for Smallholders.

• Machin T, Creed P. 1999. Changing wonky beliefs training program. [2nd May 2010].

• Malouf D. 1994. How to teach adults in a fun and exciting way. Business & Professional Publishing: Chatswood, NSW.

• Malouf D. 2003. How to teach adults in a fun and exciting way (2nd ed.). Allen & Unwin: NSW.

• MARD. 2007. Decision No. 04/2007/QD-BNN on management of production and certification of safe vegetables, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD): Hanoi.

• May C. 2008. PGS Guidelines: How participatory guarantee systems can develop and function. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

• McGill I, Beaty L. 2001. Action learning: a guide to professional, management & educational development. In Adult learning for regional development: Book of reading, School of Integrative Systems, The University of Queensland: QLD.

• Mezirow J (ed). 2000. Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on theory in progress Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

• Mezirow J, Taylor EW. 2009. Transformative learning in practice: Insights from community, workplace, and higher education. John Wiley & Sons: San Francisco, CA.

• Nguyen HN, Nguyen DT, Ha MT, Hoang LP. 2007. Research on impacts of policies on tea production and export in Thai Nguyen province. In Small Grant Research funded by Rockefeller Foundation. Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry: Thai Nguyen.

• Nguyen SL. 2010. Country report: Organic development in Vietnam. In The World of Organic Agriculture. Statistics and Emerging Trends 2010. Willer H, Kilcher L (eds.), Institute of Ecological Economy: Hanoi.

• ODI. 2009. RAPID Tools: Successful communication online toolkit.

• Ommani AR. 2001. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis for farming system businesses management: Case of wheat farmers of Shadervan District, Shoushtar Township, Iran. African journal of business management 5: 22.

• Pesut DJ. 2001. Appreciative inquiry. Nursing Outlook 49(4): 163-163.

• PGS-Vietnam. 2013. Participatory Guarantee Systems. PGS Newsletter - No.5 - Q2 2013. Coordination Committee, PGS Network-Vietnam. [27 April 2014].

• Raynolds LT. 2004. The globalization of organic agro-food networks. World development 32(5): 725-743.

• Rigby D, Bown S. 2003. Organic Food and Global Trade: Is the Market Delivering Agricultural Sustainability? University of Manchester, School of Economic Studies.

• Rinehart C. 2010. "Doing the RIGHT thing before doing things RIGHT". Ha TM (ed.), School of Integrative Systems, The University of Queensland: QLD.

• Scott S, Vandergeest P, Young M. 2009. Certiï¬cation Standards and the Governance of Green Foods in Southeast Asia. Corporate power in global agrifood governance: 61.

• Setboonsarng S. Year. Organic Agriculture, Poverty Reduction and the Millennium Development Goals. In Proceedings of the International Workshop on Sufficiency Economy, Poverty Reduction, and the MDGs Organized under the umbrella of the Exposition of Sufficiency Economy for Sustainable Development), Available at:

• Simmons J, Lovegrove I. 2005. Bridging the conceptual divide: lessons from stakeholder analysis. Journal of Organizational Change Management 18(5): 495-513.

• Skinner SJ, Kelley SW. 2006. Transforming sales organizations through appreciative inquiry. Psychology & Marketing 23(2): 77-93.

• Smith S. 1997. Create That Change: Readymade Tools for Change Management. Quest Worldwide Education Ltd.: London.

• Stain D, Imel S (eds). 2002. Adult learning in community Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

• Taylor EW. 2007. An update of transformative learning theory: A critical review of the empirical research (1999–2005). International Journal of Lifelong Education 26(2): 173-191.

• Taylor EW. 2008. Transformative learning theory. New directions for adult and continuing education 2008(119): 5-15.

• Tran CT, Samman E, Rich K, Pham QD, Nguyen DAT, Nguyen VT, Dang VT. 2004. Making markets work better for the poor: The participation of the poor in agricultural value chains - a case study of tea, Asian Development Bank Hanoi.

• Tran M. 2009a. Food security and sustainable agriculture in Vietnam. In Country report. The fourth session of the technical committee of APCAEM. . Vietnam Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Postharvest Technology (VIAEP).

• Tran N. 2009b. Transition to organic tea production in the Thai Nguyen Province, Vietnam: economic and environmental impacts. EEPSEA Research Report(2008-RR8).

• van Vuuren LJ, Crous F. 2005. Utilising appreciative inquiry (AI) in creating a shared meaning of ethics in organisations. Journal of Business Ethics 57(4): 399-412.

• Varvasovszky Z, Brugha R. 2000. How to do (or not to do) a stakeholder analysis. Oxford University Press 15(3): 338-345.

• Villarreal M. 2000. Culture, agriculture and rural development: a view from FAO's Population Programme Service. [4 November 2013].

• Vinning G, Chinh NQ. 2008. Safe vegetables, fruit and tea in Vietnam: A marketing perspective. In Investment Options for the Proposed Loan Project: Quality and Safety Improvement of Agricultural Products, Asian Development Bank: Project Number: PPTA 4927-VIE. Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development: Hanoi.

• Willer H. 2011. The world of organic agriculture: Statistics and emerging trends. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM): Bonn.

• Willer H, Kilcher L. 2010. The World of Organic Agriculture. Statistics and Emerging Trends 2010. International Federation of Organic Agriculture (IFOAM): Bonn.

• Yorks L, Kasl E (eds). 2002. Collaborative inquiry as a strategy for adult learning Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

• Yussefi M. 2008. The world of organic agriculture: statistics and emerging trends. Earthscan.

• Zundel C, Kilcher L. 2007. Organic agriculture and food availability, Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland




How to Cite

Ha, T. M. (2014). Establishing a Transformative Learning Framework for Promoting Organic Farming in Northern Vietnam: A Case Study on Organic Tea Production in Thai Nguyen Province. Asian Journal of Business and Management, 2(3). Retrieved from