VIETCANSOL II – Community-Based Land Management for Poverty Alleviation in Vietnam
Agricultural Institute of Canada
Canadian Society of Soil Science
National Institute for Soils and Fertilizer Branch of the Vietnam Society of Soil Science (NISF/VSSS)
Canada Coordinators – Dr. Ed Gregorich and Dr. Lianne Dwyer
Vietnam Coordinator – Dr. Tran Thi Tam
- Extends past project work on the promotion of on-farm conservation methods and technologies on sloping lands in the northern mountainous area of Vietnam through involvement of farmers in research, demonstrations, and training.
- Advances farming systems and practices that reduce the rate of erosion and land degradation and, at the same time, improve food production and increase farm income.
- Promotes wider adoption of innovative technologies that have been proven in the field under local conditions, through farmer training workshops and collaboration between various stakeholders, including researchers, extension workers, farmers and policy makers.
- Enhances decision-making capacity of women in agricultural practices through their involvement in community women’s associations, and promotes intergenerational equity by improving the knowledge base of youth and sustaining the agriculutral land base for use by future generations.
Geographic Focus Area: Selected regions within the northern mountainous zone
Over the past half century, massive deforestation to create agricultural lands in Vietnam resulted in severe soil degradation, exacerbated by farming systems that featured low nutrient input and little attempt to conserve the soil. An estimated 10 million hectares of land are seriously degraded (barren), and another 5 million hectares are slightly to moderately degraded land. The main cause of soil degradation has been the loss of topsoil by sheet erosion and surface wash on sloping lands. Today, almost one-third of Vietnam’s 82 million people, representing three-quarters of the country’s land area and many of the country’s 54 minority groups, make their living from agriculture on steeply sloping lands. About 2 million people depend on shifting cultivation for their food supply, a practice that has led to more than 0.5 million hectares being so severely eroded that this land is no longer of value for food or fiber production. Farming systems and practices that will reduce the rate of erosion and land degradation and, at the same time, improve food production on farms on sloping lands in the mountainous regions of northern Vietnam are key elements to addressing poverty in the country.
The focus of this project is to promote the adoption of improved farming practices through farmer-participatory research initiatives on key farms within watersheds where the land is strongly degraded through inappropriate management in the past. These key farms will be the focus for testing, innovating, and displaying methodologies for all farmers in the local watershed. Community associations will be developed or enhanced to aid in site selection and farmer training. Local and provincial extension agencies will be full partners as contributors to the activities of the community associations. This active partnership will enable the extension agencies to more broadly apply outcomes of the watershed area.
In addition, the dissemination of innovative technologies will be applied to other regions and nation-wide through exchange visits, workshops, and training of trainers. The project is not intended to be replicable in its entirety, but primary components can serve as models for extension agencies, universities, and other agencies interested in watershed management and rural land appraisal. Local capacity building through training of farmers and establishing networks among local, regional and national extension agencies, NGOs and CBOs and farmers will support interchange amongst these groups and ensure wider application of project results over time.
The Government of Vietnam supports work of this nature through official recognition of the NISF by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and also carries out infrastructure projects in the mountainous areas and offers material support for economic development. Ongoing support from the National Agricultural Research and Extension System will enable the participation of district and provincial extension personnel and will provide material benefits such as seed and fertilizer to the project.
In Vietnam, women are responsible for nearly all agricultural field work. The Vietnamese Government has strong national policies on gender equality and has established a national mechanism to improve women’s rights. Still, in almost all families, men have the last word in making decisions about production, business, allocation of family resources, and future of the children. This position is even more pronounced in rural areas. This project will foster gender equality by enhancing the decision-making capacity of women in agricultural practice through their involvement in community women’s associations. It will also promote intergenerational equity by improving the knowledge base of youth and sustaining the agricultural land base for use by future generations.
Complete project results are presented in the Final Report for the AIC International Twinning Partnership Program, pages 67 to 75.
AIC’s International Twinning Partnership Program (ITPP) provides opportunities for Canadian Member Organizations to work cooperatively and share expertise with developing country partner organizations through long-term partnerships. The ITPP promotes technological and scientific innovations in agricultural practices that are environmentally viable and sustainable, and develops increased awareness and understanding of international development among AIC Member Organizations. This Program is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).