Stories tagged: Vietnam

The Secret to Growing More Food with Less Water

This week in the #SDG2countdown to the High Level Political Forum in New York, we’ll be exploring SDG2.3, which is all about doubling agricultural productivity and incomes for smallholder farmers. Is productivity just about yield, or actually producing more with greater efficiency? Emily Karol from iDE explains how farmers they work with are producing more using less water and boosting incomes at the same time. 

With the help of micro-irrigation technology, small-scale farmers are growing more food with less water—and making a profit doing it. In Vietnam, small-scale farmers who bought micro-irrigation technology use 30% less water and can double the productivity of their farm, leading to a median increase in annual income of $350.

Large agriculture companies often overlook small-scale farmers because they don’t see the market potential in selling to them. iDE, a social innovation organization, works to bridge the last mile between manufacturers and rural farmers. We use a market-based approach to build supply and demand for micro-irrigation technology at the local level—making the technology affordable and accessible to farmers who make less than $2 a day.

iDE has spread this approach across 11 countries, designing each model to the context of the country—employing a Farm Business Advisor model in some countries and in others a social enterprise strategy. However, the goal remains consistent: improve farmer livelihoods.


This farm in Vietnam’s Ninh Thuan province has installed sprinkler and drip irrigation systems. The soil in this area of the country is sandy, which doesn’t retain water well. Micro-irrigation is a more efficient and effective method of irrigating crops in this region. (Photo courtesy of iDE/2015)

In Vietnam retailers carry many of the components to build an affordable micro-irrigation system. Instead of promoting a branded irrigation product, we developed a market around the idea of a micro-irrigation system, which allowed for flexibility and ongoing innovation in the way farmers use irrigation in different settings. To establish the market, we engaged local retailers to stock the components and educate their customers; we trained technicians to install the systems; and we coached farmers on how to use the technology with a variety of crops throughout the year. Our primary implementing partner was the local Farmers’ Unions.

Hua Van San, a farmer who lives in the Ninh Thuan province, learned about micro-irrigation through his Farmers’ Union.

Mr. Hua Van San and his wife, prepare asparagus for market. (Photo courtesy of iDE/2013)

Mr. Hua Van San and his wife, prepare asparagus for market. (Photo courtesy of iDE/2013)

“The soil is so sandy here, if you want to irrigate the whole garden you have to water it all day,” said Mr. San’s wife. “My son had to spend half his day helping me irrigate the garden on top of other farm tasks. He was too exhausted to do his homework and had to quit school.”

In 2010, Mr. San put his family’s most valued possession, a motorbike, up as collateral for a loan to purchase an electric water pump and sprinkler system. Moving away from the traditional furrow and ditch irrigation method to the tube and sprinkler system, Mr. San was able to use the space on his land more efficiently—allowing him to plant more crops closer together and increasing his yields. His family also spent 50% less time irrigating the crops.

“It reduced the burden of irrigation for my wife,” said Mr. San. “But, best of all, my son is free from watering and now he is back in school. He has more time for studying and fun.”

In 2012, Mr. San began cultivating asparagus, a high-value crop that he sells in the markets of Ho Chi Minh City.

“Last year was a very successful year for us,” said Mr. San. “We made $6,700 more profit than before—an amount we never dreamed of.”

With his additional income, he expanded his micro-irrigation system to cover an even greater portion of his 3,000 square meter farm. In just three years, his family earned enough income to no longer be identified as poor according to the government’s classification. Today, Mr. San is sharing his knowledge by teaching neighbouring farmers to grow asparagus.

Take the NEW quiz on SDG2.3 at


2nd Responsible Business Forum on Food & Agriculture

23 & 24 June 2015

Hanoi, Vietnam

Organised in partnership between Global Initiatives, VCCI, MARD and WWF-Vietnam, the forum will convene global leaders to discuss improving the productivity and sustainability of key agricultural commodities, namely aquaculture; dairy; coffee; maize; rice and tea.

Under the theme ‘ASEAN Beyond 2015: Collaboration for Equitable Growth’, working groups at RBF Hanoi will produce actionable recommendations for successful public-private partnerships, increasing the global supply of sustainably produced commodities, while improving farmer livelihoods and reducing environmental impacts. Highlights will include a dialogue with ASEAN government Ministers on sustainable agriculture.

The Secretary-General of ASEAN Le Luong Minh will open the forum and speakers include Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Vietnam; Lory Tan, CEO, WWF-Philippines; Chris Ninnes, CEO, Aquaculture Stewardship Council; Darrel Webber, Secretary General, RSPO; Roberio Silva, Director General, International Coffee Organisation; Todd Freeland, Director General, Asian Development Bank; Ministers from Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia, whilst CEOs from Unilever and other global companies will attend the event.  Read more >>

Making a Difference with Farmer Training in Vietnam

In Vietnam, where some 55 percent of the labor force is involved in agriculture, traditional farming methods dominate the way small growers in the country work. Lacking access to technology and knowledge on how to protect their harvests, millions of farmers in Vietnam struggle with low yields.

To transfer skills and technology to Vietnam’s farmers, CropLife Vietnam is working closely with the Plant Protection Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on farmer training programs. In 2008, 1,505 growers of vegetables, fruit and tea in nine provinces benefited from training provided by the private-public partnership.

In the same period, 44 farmer field schools were established nationwide. Another 40,000 have learnt Good Agricultural Practices, including crop selection, fertilizer usage as well as the responsible use of pesticides, through mass media campaigns and TV contests for farmers.

These campaigns are highly effective in reaching farmers in remote areas, while being entertaining and educational.

CropLife Vietnam is concerned about the problems faced by rice farmers, many of whom are struggling to combat infestation of their crops by brown plant hoppers. This year, training has been expanded to include rice farmers in key growing areas. Vietnam is the world’s second-largest exporter of rice after Thailand.

Ngo Thi Nhieu, a 35-year-old farmer from Vietnam’s Dong Mai village in Bac Ninh province, used to struggle to produce enough from her 1-acre land to feed her family. Today, her family has enough to eat because she produces enough to sell what she grows and makes a comfortable living.

For the first time in 2005, Ngo learnt how to combat pest infestations on her rice and vegetable fields in a session conducted by the CropLife-MARD partnership. In the past, she used traditional farming methods her parents taught her.

Today, we are very much aware of food safety standards at home and around the world. We take great care in everything we do – from choosing the seed, to using fertilizer, water and pesticides properly. We are fully aware of the importance of food safety.

Training has made a big difference in Ngo’s life. She added, “Not only my family – but also my neighbors – we all have a better life.”

Visit to learn more about work towards sustainable agriculture across the Asia Pacific region.

Training Courses in Vietnam Use Contests, Storytelling to Reach Out to Farmers

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.

Post-harvest Losses Demonstrate the Need for Better Storage Techniques

A study by the Inter-American Development Bank (ADB) in Vietnam and Cambodia recognized that farmers in the two countries could require two or three times as much rice grain as they consume to meet their food needs because of spoilage from poor storage techniques.

The full article is available here.