Farmers in Cao Quang and Quang Thach communes in Vietnam’s Quang Binh province participated in a 3-part training activity on sweetpotato, held over a total of seven days in September, November, and December 2017. Facilitated by a group consisting of a senior agronomist from the International Potato Center (CIP), a plant breeder from the Field Crops Research Institute (FCRI)-Vietnam, an animal nutritionist, and CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture) staff members from the IFAD-funded FoodSTART+ project (Food Resilience through Root and Tuber Crops in Upland and Coastal Communities of the Asia-Pacific), the training imparted learning on sweetpotato planting and agronomy, sustainable soil management, pest and disease identification and management, and effective, climate-resilient crop management in different stages of production, amongst some 51 participants including both farmers and agricultural extension workers.
The value of the training lies in the new knowledge and skills that the farmers acquired. It was amazing to see them realize how one simple change in farming practice could result in higher, better, and more sustainable, yields.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Hoan, for example, a farmer from Quang Thach commune, had never applied potassium to her plants before. But according to her she now knows better what plants need for a healthy growth, and is also determined to source and use clean planting materials to limit the incidence of pests and diseases.
In a study published in 2017, FoodSTART+ identified the gaps between conventional farming practiced in Quang Binh and climate-smart ones. In addition, results of a pre-training test among participants had revealed important knowledge gaps on pests and diseases: farmers were not able to recognize disease symptoms in sweetpotato plants. Heavily impacting yield was also the lack of awareness of any rapid multiplication techniques for planting materials. In response, the training facilitators, designed a curriculum that addressed specific issues of high importance to farmers.
By the close of session one, there had been a consensus and a plan to establish a multiplication center for clean sweetpotato planting material that is to supply smallholder farmers in the two communes with increased quantities of disease-free sweetpotato planting materials.
At session two, we launched and distributed a publication – Recommended sweetpotato farming practices in Quang Binh, Vietnam: a way to promote sustainable rural development and food security under a changing climate – among farmers and extension workers to guide sweetpotato farming practices.
At session three, we talked about the nutritional benefits of consuming sweetpotato, particularly theorange-fleshed sweetpotato, for tackling vitamin A deficiency, which could cause stunting, especially among women and children. In Vietnam, stunting is observed among 25.9% of children under 5 years old.
Working within the framework of large-scale development projects supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, FoodSTART+ aims to enhance food resilience among poor households by introducing root and tuber crops innovations. In Vietnam, FoodSTART+ works with the Sustainable Rural Development for the Poor (SRDP) investment project.
Written by Madelline Romero/CIAT
Photos by Le Hang Thi/CIAT
Original post here.