The GFAR -led Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) – funded project “Towards more profitable and sustainable vegetable farming systems in north-western Vietnam” is drawing to an end in 2018. In April the project team presented progress and research findings to ACIAR and three independent reviewers at the end of a project review workshop. The objective of the workshop was for the project team to demonstrate achievements against project objectives and was an opportunity to plan how to best use remaining time and resources to have maximum impact through research and extension.
This week the project team have received the review report which provides a largely positive assessment of the project. Some of the major achievements to-date include:
- A comprehensive consumer survey has collected detailed data on food (including vegetables) expenditure and preferences. This information is being drawn on by other agricultural research for development projects, industry bodies and policy makers.
- Smallholder farmers producing vegetables for markets are able to increase their cash income (relative to growing subsistence rice and maize crops). In addition a comprehensive survey of rural households has shown a relationship between vegetable income and dietary outcomes. In particular, households with increased cash incomes are able to purchase nutritious food, to improve dietary diversity of household members with a particularly positive impact on the health outcomes e.g. reduced prevalence of stunting in children.
- The Farmer Business School approach (particularly targeting women small holders) has been further developed to enhance smallholder farmers’ understanding of markets and to equip farmers with the skills to shift toward market oriented agriculture and access markets. The project is running Farmer Business Schools for women and ethnic minorities, with 160 farmers in three districts: Sa Pa, Bac Ha and Bao Thang in Lao Cai Province.
- Whole-farm management practices to improve sustainability, productivity and household livelihoods in rice-vegetable and vegetable-only systems have been developed e.g.:
- Vegetable growers in Sa Pa now have access to effective options for management of clubroot in their crops. Application of lime to increase soil pH to 7 with fluazinam at planting is now recommended to growers to control clubroot.
- Research trials have demonstrated deficiencies in micronutrients in some soils. Farmers are now able to diagnose these deficiencies and treat accordingly.
- Throughout the project quality assurance and control of soil and plant nutrient analyses was continuously upgraded at the Soils and Fertilizers Research Institute in Hanoi. During 2017 the laboratory acquired accreditation from the Australasian Soil and Plant Analysis Council for five soil tests.
The Taste of Australia event is a Vietnam-wide celebration of Australian food, beverages and culinary culture, as well as innovative fashion and design, supported by the Australian Government, industry and business partners. Hosted by Taste of Australia Ambassador Luke Nguyen, the event also recognized 45 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam.
Our Vietnam Vegetables project working in Bac Ha and Sap Pa districts of Lao Cai Province produced a film with Luke Nguyen in 2016. You can watch the film on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2T8WzQjO9o