The Asia-Pacific Research Network (APRN) has coordinated with the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) to organize a seminar on improving farmers’ capacity to work towards sustainable development.
While meeting in Hanoi, representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) discussed agriculture, food security, indigenous people's rights to sustainability, ethnic minorities and disadvantaged people, as well as water resources and solutions for environmental protection in rural areas.
SRD Director Vu Thi Bich Hop said her centre has carried out eight projects to support farmers in 47 communes in the northern and central regions with financial resources from international donors including Spain, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark and Canada.
Illustrative photo - Source: VOVNews
The aim is to improve local farmers’ economic knowledge and technical skills in developing agricultural production, marketing and cooperating with partners.
Under the project to develop rice varieties in the northern province of Bac Kan, funded by the Dutch Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (CORDAID), two community-based centres have been set up to provide more than 1,200 local farmers with basic information about rice production.
As a result, average rice yields in the province have increased by 30 percent, while the use of pesticides has decreased by 50 percent. Farmers are now able to spend 70 percent less on buying rice seeds than before and their incomes are up 15-20 percent. Shifting from the self-supply to goods production model most farmers can invest more in producing rice seeds for sale.
A research project to promote the chicken farming value chain has got off the ground in Bao Thanh commune, in the midland province of Phu Tho. With funding from the Catholic NGO Manos Unidas, the SRD has helped local farmers learn how to analyze the value chain through a series of intensive technical workshops aimed at increasing the value of animal products and creating better links between inputs and outputs.
Many households claim to be raising at least 100 chickens as they can buy animal feed directly from the processing plants at cheap prices and sell their chickens in large numbers at a profit 8-15 percent higher than before.
APRN expert Antonio Tujan said some NGOs have created successful models for reducing poverty in rural areas. However, he noted, the lack of highly-skilled workers and financial resources has prevented other NGOs from operating effectively and developing long-term development strategies.
The lax connectivity between different organizations has also led to the fact that one locality may have too many projects but others are short of projects, not to say they overlap each other.
The best solution for farmers is to improve their economic development skills, Mr Tujan stressed.
Professor Dr. Truong Quang Hoc from the Research Centre for Natural Resources and Environment emphasized the importance of closer cooperation between NGOs and the State to provide effective financial support for farmers in rural and mountainous areas throughout Vietnam.
Many NGOs are operating well in the country, such as the Vietnamese Non-governmental Organizations and Climate Change (VNGO & CC), the Climate Change Working Group (CCWG), the Civil Society Inclusion in Food Security and Poverty Elimination Network (CIFPEN), the Gender and Community Development Network (GENCOMNET) and the VNGO & FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade).
Through their networks, Vietnamese experts have the chance to share development experiences with international partners, and discuss issues of common concern related to sustainable agriculture, financial resources for coping with climate change and the effective use of development assistance./.