Robynne Anderson, Coordinator of the International Agri-Food Network, tells Farming First how agriculture has been her life and why studying agriculture is so important.
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Vegetable production is very important to Vietnam’s economy, with many farmers seeking access to export markets as a means of improving their livelihoods. However, meeting quality requirements for export produce can be a challenge for farmers.
As a response to this issue, the Plant Protection Department (PPD) of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with CropLife Asia, introduced a joint campaign in 2003.
Initially, one hundred and thirty trainers were trained over a six-day course in Ha Tay and Ho Chi Minh City. Farmer training courses then took place at 33 farmer field schools in four target provinces. The project also included innovative methods, such as farmer contests and community drama to improve the outreach to more stakeholders and make the programme more attractive and interesting to participants. The community dramas were broadcast on Vietnam Television and reached millions of viewers.
Three broadcasts were made as a result and they attracted additional attention through a national competition for script writers. The winning screenplays were broadcast on network television. Another outcome of the project was the creation of a forum between farmers and staff from the Ministry, which has helped communications and kept farmers updated on new regulations.
In Latin America, farming is often a family affair, and children are important actors in fostering the use and uptake of best practices.
As a result, CropLife Latin America has been very active in developing academic programmes targeted at schoolchildren and students, implementing the Scarecrow Programme to help young people develop awareness of ecological issues and of the need to protect natural resources.
The project now serves as a model educational system for bringing agricultural concepts into rural classrooms. It has been implemented in several countries, such as Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador and has also been updated to a follow up programme “Growers of the Future” courses for university students. Today, CropLife Latin America’s stewardship projects reach 18 countries, with a strong focus on multi-stakeholder relationships and reaching out to a wide audience, from farmers and retailers to families and health practitioners.
With its high-quality milk, Nairobi-based Brookside Dairy has a 40 per cent share of the Kenyan dairy market. Seven per cent of its 80,000 suppliers are commercial farmers and the remainder are small-scale producers.
The widespread lack of refrigeration facilities means that Brookside employs an army of delivery personnel, including more than 1,000 “bicycle boys” in the Nairobi area alone, to collect milk.
Brookside’s sales depots now stretch from the East coast to the shores of Lake Victoria in the West. Its training field days, each attended by up to 6,000 local farmers, help spread best practices in livestock management and provide networking opportunities for smallholders, many of whom are geographically isolated.
The business links rural and urban economies and offers a sustainable route out of poverty for many. Additional benefits to local communities are health education programmes and funding for school, church and road building projects.
Tata Chemicals, a subsidiary of the Tata Group, has established the Tata Kisan Sansar (TKS), a network of franchised rural retail outlets which offer a comprehensive range of agricultural inputs and services to farmers.
The TKS has the objective of becoming a “onestop farmer’s solution shop” and follows a “hub and spoke” model with 32 hubs staffed by agronomists and community organizers offering farm-specific services like soil testing. Each hub, in turn, supports around 20 franchisee outlets in a radius of 50-60 km, with each outlet promoted by a local entrepreneur serving some 30 to 40 villages.
TKS offers extensive agri-products and services such as advice from agronomists and farmer’s training.