Developing climate-smart options for farmers in Vietnam
Written by: Bui le Vinh
Edited by: Georgina Smith
A research team gathered in the Climate-Smart Village of Ma in northern Vietnam recently to discuss new climate-smart technology with farmers in such a way that they would not only meet farmers’ needs, but would also mitigate the impact of a number of climate risks facing the village people.
For example, planting grass strips in cassava fields to mitigate soil erosion, or producing feed for intensifying fish farming and livestock farming, especially cows and goats. During the discussions with farmers, the research team decided a list of potential Climate-Smart Agricultural (CSA) options that have been tested in areas with similar conditions, yet farmers are not aware of them.
The list – a combination of new practices that farmers will test for suitability in the Ma village – include: (1) Cassava-based integrated crop systems, (2) Cassava and tree plantations, (3) Fish farming, (4) Integrated landscape, (5) Climate-smart systems in paddy fields, (6) Cassava-grass forage strips, (7) Cut-and-carry forage systems, (8) Rice conversion to vegetables plots, (9) Macadamia-fruit tree-forages intercropping, and (10) Tea-coffee-fruit tree and forage integrated cropping systems.
The CSA fair happened 1.5 hours before the workshop with the posters hung up on the walls outside of the workshop hall to give farmers the opportunity to see and discuss the contents of the interventions among themselves. They realized their 4 preferred practices (2, 3, 6, and 7) and discussed them with great excitement, and were interested to understand new ideas proposed by the research team.
Researchers from other Climate-Smart Villages in Southeast Asia joined this workshop to test the CSA scoring activity also followed the session intently. They brought posters of different potential CSA interventions to show farmers of Ma village.
CSA Prioritization workshop
The workshop started with an inspiring presentation about the 12 year cassava-grass strip practice successfully implemented in a neighboring district which received great attention from 15 female and 15 male villagers as well as the researchers. Farmers immediately expressed their wish to visit this site.
Farmers were asked to discuss variables for each of the interventions based on: how much labor, money, time, knowledge, technical support, and gender balance they believed would be needed to carry out each practice. They were then asked to assess how they believed the options would respond to climate risk; improvement of landscapes and land and water restoration, financial gain, food security, and benefits to household livelihoods and community well-being.
Results synthetized from scoring cards for each of the 10 CSA interventions revealed that farmers are more in favor of the first 7 interventions and not of the last 3. According to them, practices that incorporate too many crops and trees are often complicated and require much more labor, time, and investment. Furthermore, markets for these new products are often unknown.
Farmers prefer better products that can likely bring them income. They were particularly interested in fish farming, livestock, improving cassava yields, crop rotation in paddy fields in unpredictable weather patterns, and a landscape approach that requires farmers to work together in more sustainable, integrated system at catchment scale in order to achieve soil and water restoration from a more systematic point of view. Farmers have now ranked their 7 preferred interventions based on their importance as follow: 1 (intervention 3), 2 (6), 3 (1), 4 (2), 5 (7), 6 (4), and 7 (5).
This CSA pool has been now refined to a CSA “basket” of 7 CSA interventions, which will need to be calculated with ex-ante analysis. The results of this analysis will be compared among the interventions to come up with a new ranking list for finalizing 3-5 interventions for field trials.