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The Magic Four: innovating for the rural poor in 4 provinces of Vietnam

Display Date: 12/11/13

by IFAD Vietnam and PROCASUR

What have in common the establishment of a bamboo and rattan handicraft production unit in a cooperative of Ha Tinh province, the raising of black pigs in Cao Bang, the strengthening of farmers’ groups for safe vegetable production in Dak Nong and the natural dyeing of rattan crafts in Quang Binh?

With the aim of improving livelihoods of poor rural people, all these initiatives have been conceived and jointly designed by IFAD projects’ staff and stakeholders during the first Learning Route (LR) implemented by IFAD Vietnam and the Regional Corporation PROCASUR in July 2013 in Quang Binh and Ha Tinh provinces.

The Learning Route Strengthening Farmers Organizations, Developing Sustainable Business Models and Public Private Partnership in Agriculture brought together over 40 participants from 8 different Vietnam provinces to learn from successful inclusive business models supported by the Decentralized Programme for Rural Poverty Reduction in Quang Binh (DPRPR) and the Improving Market Participation of the Poor in Ha Tinh (IMPP).

During one-week time, LR participants have been exposed to successful practices and approaches learning directly from local farmers champions and skilled women artisans, getting new ideas about how to improve and diversify their livelihoods, how to secure better access to market and how strengthen the relation with private and public actors. As result, 8 action plans have been designed at the end of the LR by the projects working teams as a way to promote innovative solutions for the benefit of poor rural people. Out of them, four have been then selected and awarded by PROCASUR for the potential of their innovations. Today, these ideas are moving the first steps to become real actions.

The Quangh Phoung Bamboo and Rattan Cooperative is one of the successful models that hosted the LR.Starting off as a very small group with limited understanding of the market, the cooperative counts today with 50 members plus 200 employees who work from home, the most of them being women. In recent years they have been able to make considerable success and their bamboo products currently reach markets in Vietnam and abroad. With the aim of enhancing cooperative’s production to best reach external markets while, at the same time, to valorise local traditional patterns and the use of natural products, the DPRPR working team focused its action plan on the diversification of rattan products. The idea is to launch a new handicraft line (baskets, bags, small cases) naturally painted, using the available natural resources and following the pattern design from the local ethnic groups. This will bring more income opportunities especially to women.

Mr Dieu Gop is a farmer from the Mnong ethnic group living in the central highlands region of Dak Nong province. Together with other farmers and project staff from the 3EM project, Mr Dieu Gop had the vision to transform the small-scale and fragmented production of vegetables into concentrated and market-driven production to benefit other indigenous farmers like him. “Through the Leaning Route I understood about the importance of market needs. Now instead of producing what we want, we should also produce what the market demands. I will think carefully in the future on what the best crops are to grow based on market demands. My dream is to make my family rich and happy” he said at the end of the Learning Route.

Our project area in Ha Quang District, Cao Bang has the potential to develop black pig, especially the uplands”, explained Ms  Nguyen Thi Hue, DBRP KM and M&E Specialist. “The people are poor, lack of technical knowledge as well as access to livestock markets. We designed an action plan to improve livelihoods opportunities and income of the poor and the ethnic minorities using the approach of “farmer-train-farmer” that we experienced in the LR to transfer the skills and pig-raising techniques from one household to another, as well as to share and replicate the best models. The cycle of knowledge transfer will continue and could spread to other regions, so that hopefully Ha Quang will be able to meet market demand for black pig in both quantity and quality”.

Ms Tran Thi Minh Nguyet is technical officer of the IMPP Agriculture Extension Unit in Ha Tinh province.

As a technical officer, I work on the provision of technological advances and rural solutions for the farmers for implementation at the local level” she stated. “We will support Cam Thanh cooperative in forming a new group on bamboo craft production”, she said referring to the action plan designed together with her project team. The wish of Ms Tran Thi and her fellows is to contribute create more stable jobs opportunities for local people, helping them to diversify their businesses to be more competitive in the market and thus getting increasing incomes from their activities.

The shift from a small-scale household production to a sustainable market-driven goods production would necessary take time; this is just the beginning, new ideas flourished and now they have started to put roots in four provinces as pioneer projects.   We congratulate projects’ staff and farmers for their willingness in crating a more equal society for all and we look forward to see these processes of innovation blooming during 2014.

For more testimonies on the Learning Route please click here

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