Main barriers to adoption of sustainable sloping land management practices in food crop production by small scale households in Northwest Vietnam
Pham Thi Sen
Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (NOMAFSI)
(a presentation at the 8th ACSA Conference, 23-25 September, 2014, Hanoi, Vietnam)
During the past few decades while many technical innovations which promote cropping pattern improvement and production intensification have been largely adopted resulting in remarkable achievements in agriculture in the Northwest Vietnam, many other technical innovations, in particular, those valuable for a climate resilient and environmentally sound agriculture through promoting sustainable sloping land management (SLM) have not been much applied.
Under the ACIAR funded ‘Northwest project” in 2011, and latter, the FAO/EC supported Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) project in 2013, we spent efforts to understand the reasons of this poor adoption.
Our findings demonstrate that different SLM practices have been developed, tested and introduced in the region. Most notable are (i) minimum tillage or direct seeding on vegetative mulch; (ii) intercropping with legumes or cover crops; (iii) mini-terracing; and (iv) planting annual food crops and perennial trees together. Their adoption remain very limited due the following barriers:
– Increased labour inputs and complication of technical packages recommended to households: In the Northwest region, where labour is short at critical times and awareness and capacity of farming communities remain limited, this is one of the main constraints to transfer of any technical innovation;
– Lack of appropriate equipments and tools required the adoption: For example, appropriate direct seeding tools/equipment are not available for farmers to apply mulching and minimum tillage in conditions of highly complicated topography as in the Northwest Vietnam;
– Unstable and limited markets for ‘additional’ agro-products: market linkage has not been developed for products of intercrops and/or of “climate-smart” crops, while few ‘conventional’ crops such as maize, rice and cassava are of high market demands;
– Additional production input items required and which may not are accessible for local households: e.g. farmers may not be able to buy herbicides for adopting mulching and conservation agriculture;
– Low or no immediate economic benefits from the adoption: Mulching, mini-terracing and planting perennial plants, for example, only give benefits after certain years.
– Un-readiness of farmers to change: farmers have long been practicing their conventional practices and not yet ready to change;
Obviously, for overcoming these barriers, investments in all aspects and inputs from all stakeholders are required: researchers to refine the technical packages; policy and decision makers to develop and realize supporting policies and mechanisms; extension officers to raise awareness and capacity of farmers; input suppliers and output traders to better meet the local demands.