FoodSTART+ organizes exchange visit to Climate Smart Village for farmers and agriculture extension workers

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The Food Resilience Through Root and Tuber Crops in Upland and Coastal Communities of the Asia Pacific (FoodSTART+),  Sustainable Development for the Poor (SRDP),  The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), and the Farmers Union of Ha Tinh province organized an exchange visit to the My Loi Climate Smart Village (CSV) in Ha Tinh on 22-23 April 2018. The exchange visit was participated by 34 representatives of both root and tuber crops (RTC) farmers and agricultural extension workers from Quang Binh province.

Located in the coastal central region of Vietnam, have tropical monsoon climate with similar weather conditions. The two provinces often experience the severe impact of climate change, including extreme weather events, which negatively affect agricultural production, especially smallholder farmers. This has fostered the development of CSVs with the aim of introducing and scaling out agricultural practices and innovations for enhanced climate change adaptation and mitigation, including improved access of small-scale female farmers to seasonal forecast and agro-advisory services. My Loi is one of the three CSVs in Vietnam, and of the six CSVs in Southeast Asia. The initiative is funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

As a promising approach to enhance resilience to climate change in agriculture, FoodSTART+ and its partners organized the visit to (i) increase awareness and capacities of RTC smallholder farmers about selected climate-smart practices and innovations, (ii) identify gender-related aspects related to RTC production and possible adoption of CSV innovations, (iii) discuss opportunities and challenges in establishing farmer interest groups (FIG) in My Loi, and (iv) promote dialogue and cross-learning between farmers and extension agents in the two provinces.

The participants were divided into four sex-disaggregated groups (two female and two male) and exposed to a number of climate-smart innovations. RTC intercropping in both sloping and lowland sites (cassava or sweetpotato intercropping with annual and perennial crops) were first to be visited, followed by a farm producing effective micro-organisms for making good quality compost and fermented feed, a mini-weather station, a school vegetable garden and a vermiculture-fish farm. Participants were asked to identify which options were attractive to them and what their adoption would entail. In particular, focus groups were arranged to discuss the strengths, opportunities and constraints when adopting CSV innovations, including challenges to adapt them to the Quang Binh setting. The group discussions were facilitated by an ICRAF research assistant and a field assistant from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

Men and women innovators from My Loi were also invited to join and share their experiences. Interestingly, farmers from Quang Thach commune in Quang Binh indicated that the intercropping had not brought good results due to low crop productivity. As a response, both male and female farmers from My Loi agreed that the yield of each commodity from intercropping is lower than that of monocropping; however, they still consider practice intercropping to efficiently use their lands and allow crops diversification. In the long run, intercropping system could bring more benefits and be more sustainable than monocropping.

As a way forward, the participants will explore how some of innovations learnt during the exchange visit to the CSV in Ha Tinh can be introduced and adapted to Quang Binh. The visit has confirmed that men’s and women’s gender-based interests, concerns and opportunities should be taken in due consideration for successful technology adoption.

Written by Hang Thi Le, Research Assistant, CIAT-FoodSTART+