Outreach strategy towards large scale adoption of CA innovations:
experience from Northwest Vietnam highlands(*)
Pham Thi Sen1, Oleg Nicetic2, Le Huu Huan1, Le Thi Hang Nga1,
Do Sy An1, Gunnar Kirchhof2, Nguyen Van Bang1, Nguyen Van Nhat1,
Dang Van Cong3, Nguyen Hoang Phuong3, Elske van de Fliert2
(1) Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (NOMAFSI), Vietnam
(2) University of Queensland, Australia
(3) Tay Bac University, Vietnam
The Northwest Vietnam agriculture is characterised with large scale monoculture of maize on high and steep slopping lands causing high soil erosion and short durability of cropping systems. During 2010 – 2013, under the ACIAR funded Northwest Vietnam project, an outreach strategy towards large-scale adoption CA options for reduced soil erosion and increased sustainability of peoduction systems was designed and piloted. This strategy involved: (1) conducting of adaptive trials and demonstration of; (2) raising awareness on the needs for, and (3) building capacity and linkages for facilitating farmer to implement, different CA practices.
Adaptive trials, demonstration and awareness raising aimed to link the research work with the development organisations. Researchers, farmers, local decision makers and extension officers together planned action plans, developed protocols of field trials, conducted, monitored and evaluated adaptive trials in 6 villages. In addition, a mental model study was conducted to address the non-sustainability issues of the existing cropping systems, and to understand the perceptions on soil erosion of farmers from different ethnic groups as well as their difficulties in inplementing CA practices. Training and communication materials (leaflets, photostories and videos) were also participatorily produced and used to facilitate discussions with farmers and local officers.
Capacity building and linkage development involved organisation of training of facilitators (TOF) for extension officers and field schools for farmers (FFS). After attending TOFs, 18 extension officers successfully organised and facilitated 4 pilot FFSs over two cropping seasons in 2013 involving 85 farmers from different ethnic groups in 4 villages. Each FFS consisted of 9 sessions covering all necessary steps from land and seed preparation to harvest and postharvest. Detailed content of training curriculum varied across sites to suit the local conditions. Each FFS established one large learning plot for all the farmer-trainees to practice the techniques learnt at each session. Each farmer-trainee was provided with support to apply their preferred techniques in a small plot of 500 m2 in their own field. Field days and cross visits were organised to FFSs and their learning fields; Farmers who were not participating in the FFSs were also encouraged to visit and share their views. Thus, not only 85 farmers but also many other farmers could enhance their awareness and knowledge from the activity, and the linkage farmer-farmer, farmer-extension officer-researchers improved.
As result, not only farmers involved in the FFSs and trials, but many other farmers could learn and implement some CA practices. Especially, last season, in two out of the four villages with FFSs, over 50% of farming households applied minimum tillage and mulch on their crops. In both target provinces, Son La and Lai Chau, provincial department of agriculture and rural development (DARD) have included in their extension program an objective of large scale adoption of soil erosion control practices in the coming year. As evaluated by local people, together with other awareness raising activities, the piloted FFSs were effective for promoting the adoption of CA practices; Nevertheless, for DARD to be able to organize FFSs for large number of farmers modifications to FFS are required to reduce the cost and time consumption. Also, farmer-farmers learning has been considered highly fruitful for multiply the impacts of FFSs.
(a presentation at the 4th International Conservation Agriculture Conference for Southest Asia, 9-13 December, 2013, Battambang, Cambodia)