By Tom Green – A primary goal of BGR’s agricultural projects is “to promote greater food productivity at the grassroots level.” To achieve this goal BGR is supporting the growth of a sustainable farming technique, SRI, “System of Rice Cultivation” in Vietnam. In May 2011, BGR awarded a six-month grant to the International Cooperation Center (ICC) of Thai Nguyen University, an organization dedicated to carrying out international cooperation activities, including research in poverty reduction, and crop/animal production biotechnology. This grant has introduced a new approach of intensified rice cultivation to rural farmers in Vietnam. Partnering with ICC, BGR is supporting the training of sustainable farming and developing field practice and work group skills in the Vo Nhai district, one of the poorest districts in the Midland and Northern mountainous region. This project aims to improve living conditions by building on these farmers’ capacity to apply sustainable SRI agriculture techniques that adapt to climate variability, thereby increasing rice productivity and profitability. Emphasis is placed on training, workshops and meetings with local authorities. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a new, more ecologically sustainable approach emphasizing sound management practices that promote organic inputs and reduce cultivation density, irrigation, and use of chemical fertilizers. By building their capacity and confidence to apply sustainable SRI agriculture techniques that adapt to climate variability, farmers are able to increase their rice productivity and profitability. This improves food security and overall living conditions. SRI allows farmers to dramatically increase their yields by eliminating unnecessary expenses. Oxfam America reports: “Over a million small-scale farmers in Vietnam have embraced a technique that grows more rice with less seed, fertilizer, water, and pesticides. It’s helping farmers reduce their costs and earn more, while adding about $23.5 million to the value of Vietnamese rice in just one crop season.” Vuong Hoang Kim, a cooperative member who volunteers to teach other women SRI farming techniques, further states, “We all are very happy to see our rice plants grow very quickly and we gain a lot of benefits from these simple techniques.” Please see the Oxfam America website.
BGR is pleased to support the work of Thai Nguyen University’s SRI project. We are deeply grateful to all our donors who funded this innovative project.