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How ‘Farmfluencers’ Are Making Vietnam’s Rice Fields Extra Sustainable


VNFU’s train-the-trainer farmer “influencer” program, devised in partnership with behavioral science consultancy Affect At Work, taught motivated farmers like Nguyen sustainable strategies resembling utilizing animal manure to compost rice straw and stubble into natural fertilizer to interchange chemical fertilizers. This system additionally advocated for the “alternate moist and dry” irrigation technique. 

Nguyen and different trainers then arrange demonstration plots utilizing the brand new strategies, subsequent to a plot of crops grown with outdated strategies, to spotlight the variations and debunk misconceptions about how troublesome these strategies could be to introduce. Additionally they gave talks at occasions and festivals to unfold the phrase.

So as to add an additional aspect to this system — and provides it a greater likelihood of sustained long-term conduct change, in line with Affect At Work’s psychologists — a leaderboard was established to advertise pleasant competitors between areas, as a part of a “gamified” system the place farmers would transfer up ranges by finishing particular program actions, like studying and implementing a selected technique, and sharing these with others. 

Different types of rice for sale in buckets.Different types of rice for sale in buckets.
Rice is a staple meals in Vietnam. Credit score: Cristian Viarisio / Flickr

Up to now, so good. When VNFU and Affect At Work surveyed the rice farmers in late 2023, 90 % of these concerned within the mission mentioned that they had decreased crop burning, in contrast with 60 % of farmers surveyed who weren’t a part of this system. Of the farmers that have been burning all or most of their rice straw and stubble earlier than this system, 57 % reported no burning afterwards, in contrast with 17 % of farmers not in this system. This equated to just about 4523 hectares of land being farmed with out burning — a complete of 67 % of land owned by farmers in this system.

Almost half of mission farmers decreased their chemical fertilizer use, in contrast with 22 % of farmers not in this system — equating to just about 26.5 tons much less. In the meantime, 33 % of farmers who beforehand had by no means utilized “alternate moist and dry” irrigation used the tactic following this system, in comparison with solely 12 % of farmers not in this system. Round two million farmers are making use of not less than one approach, in line with the VNFU.

Hai Hau Le Thi, who has been farming rice for greater than 30 years within the Nghia Hung space, is a type of success tales, having utterly stopped burning crop residue and utilizing chemical fertilizer on his land. Now, he converts his rice straw and stubble into natural fertilizer to nourish his crop. And fairly than flood his fields, he now makes use of the AWD technique, which he says really helps the vegetation’ roots penetrate deeply into the bottom and take up natural matter from deep inside the soil.

“These adjustments have helped our household acquire excessive yields with higher rice high quality, whereas lowering enter prices by saving on seeds, water and pesticides,” says Le Thi.

Rice straw being burned in a field with plumes of smoke rising.Rice straw being burned in a field with plumes of smoke rising.
Burning rice stubble and straw has been a standard follow in rice farming, however each ton burned pollutes the air with practically 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide. Credit score: The South Wind / Shutterstock

“Beforehand, individuals in my village typically burned their crop residues indiscriminately. Since taking part within the mission, at present, there isn’t a extra burning of rice straw and stubble as a result of they’ve used microbial merchandise to deal with the straw, earlier than transplanting it to achieve natural fertilizer from it,” he provides. 

“It’s crucial to change to environmentally pleasant rice cultivation, not just for a greater revenue, but additionally for the higher well being of our household and the neighborhood, in addition to to attenuate pure disasters on account of local weather change.”

Affect At Work principal behavioral scientist, Eloise Copland, labored carefully with VNFU representatives to develop and roll out the train-the-trainer program, to give you options that individuals could be more than likely to undertake. 

There are a number of sustainable farming strategies that may be inspired, says Copland, resembling rice intensification, which entails the planting of natural seeds in a selected association. This may be pricey, although, and troublesome to comply with, which is why it wasn’t among the many strategies chosen for this system. 

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