Enhancing adaption to climate-smart agriculture

10:05 | 16/12/2016 Society

(VEN) - Restructuring agriculture to cope with climate change requires improved and integrated irrigation as well as development and application of good agricultural practices. They will help farmers increase productivity with less investment and minimize greenhouse gas emissions.  

Over VND25 trillion needed to make good damages caused by El Nino

According to Dr. Tran Dai Nghia - Head of the Natural Resources and Environment Management Department of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD), Vietnam is one of the three most vulnerable countries to climate change and sea level rise.

From late 2014 to 2016, due to the El Nino, 18 provinces and cities in the southern central region, the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta suffered drought and saltwater intrusion, which affected the lives of two million people, damaged hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice with an estimated loss of VND15 trillion. Flood and rains in October and November 2016 also caused severe consequences in central provinces.

In 2016, the Vietnamese government for the first time called for international organizations’ support in coping with natural disasters. As of early July 2016, partners and international organizations provided Vietnam with urgent assistance worth more than US$16 million to help the country make good damages caused by the El Nino. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development estimated that Vietnam needs more than VND25 trillion to repair damages caused by the El Nino from 2016-2020. In 2016 alone, the country needs over VND3.73 trillion to assist farmers in production restoration, procure water filters, fix clean water supply projects and urgently upgrade drought and saltwater intrusion control projects.

Experts have said that Vietnam needs to restructure agriculture in compliance with mitigating climate change, and that climate-smart agriculture should be a priority, as it can help ensure food security and post-climate change production recovery.

Accelerating new technology application

Vietnam Academy for Water Resources’ Northern Mountainous Irrigation Center Deputy Director Nguyen Xuan Kieu said that climate change and water are the problems that farmers have been facing daily, even hourly. The only way to solve the problems is to apply new technologies in order to reduce costs, improve productivity and increase competitiveness. Kieu added that growing coffee beans enough to prepare a cup of coffee requires 140 liters of water, and that for each kilogram of coffee beans, the state had to subsidize VND1,000 of water cost and farmers had to spend VND3,000. The high production cost resulted in Vietnamese coffee products’ high prices and low competitiveness. Water efficient irrigation technology, combining with proper use of fertilizers, would increase productivity by 10-40 percent, reduce the nursery cost, increase farmer’s incomes by 20-50 percent and decrease water consumption by 20-40 percent compared to conventional methods.
According to IPSARD’s Natural Resources and Environment Management Department Head, Dr. Tran Dai Nghia, suitable models for specific ecological regions are important to develop climate-smart agriculture.

Recently, to further promote climate-smart agricultural restructuring, the Vietnam Irrigated Agriculture Improvement Project (VIAIP/WB7) was kicked off in seven provinces - Ha Giang, Phu Tho, Hoa Binh, Thanh Hoa, Ha Tinh, Quang Tri and Quang Nam. The project’s Component 3 - Support Services for Climate-Smart Agricultural Practices will build on the developed irrigation infrastructure and water delivery activities to improve the productivity and quality of agriculture, increase farmers’ incomes, and reduce their vulnerability to adverse climatic phenomena.

The component’s purposes are to apply advanced techniques; conduct such sustainable practices as integrated crop management and the System of Rice Intensification (SRI); improve the efficiency of water and fertilizer use; minimize greenhouse gas emissions in order to reduce costs, increase economic efficiency in cultivation, create high quality products and promote market connection; apply efficient irrigation technologies in farming shallow crops to meet market demands and construct value chains; build safe production models in compliance with the Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP), apply high technology in processing and export activities, and minimize product’s toxic residues; and promote agricultural products’ strengths and advantages in specific regions to improve farmer’s incomes.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, if VIAIP/WB7 is well implemented, it will help develop a newly-reformed efficient irrigation in the agricultural sector. A goal is for 500,000ha of key shallow crops to be watered following advanced and water efficient technologies by 2020. The use of modern integrated watering and water efficient technologies for such key and competitive crops as coffee, pepper, dragon fruit and sugarcane in Vietnam shows that advanced technology application combining with proper use of fertilizers could increase the productivity 10-40 percent, reduce the plant nursery cost, improve farmer households’ incomes 20-50 percent and decrease water consumption 20-40 percent compared to conventional irrigation methods.

It is forecasted that by 2100, the impact of climate change will reduce the yield of rice by 11-42 percent and that of other crops by 7-45 percent. Agricultural production is affecting the climate and the environment. Fifty-three percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in Vietnam is caused by agriculture.

Nguyen Hanh