“The project has changed my life and my hometown in a positive way. Thank you,!” beamed Sinh. He added, “I just sold our goats a few days ago, earning nearly 50 million VND. The Guinea grass introduced by the project is pest-free. It can even grow in drought, and only needs to be fertilized with manure. The quality of Guinea grass is very good. My cows and goats grow up healthy with this grass. Thanks to this, our 6-month-old calves have gained enough weight to sell; the goats are two years old.”
Mr. Sinh is a farmer in the mountainous commune of Son Tien, Huong Son district, Ha Tinh province. He lives with his wife and two young children in a small house. Like other villagers in Ha Tinh province, Mr. Sinh has been experiencing the effects of extreme weather events. Periods of extreme cold, drought and flood have become common and are severely affecting agricultural production. Rice can only be grown once a year due to water shortages. Fruit trees and other annual crops have all been significantly impacted. As a consequence, Sinh and his family used to face hunger for several months of the year.
To assure their harvest, Sinh’s family applied chemical fertilizers, pesticides and growth stimulants to their crops. However, over time the yield has decreased because the land is becoming less fertile. Sinh and fellow farmers in Son Tien commune never considered to plant grass instead of beans, peanuts and corn until the idea was proposed by “Support to Viet Nam for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement”– the VN-SIPA project in Ha Tinh.
At the end of 2020, Sinh’s family was among 31 households in Son Tien commune selected to participate in the SIPA Ha Tinh project activities for climate-smart agriculture. Sinh and the other farmers were trained in how to plant and care for their chosen trees and crops. They were also given access to weather forecasting services provided by the project and joined Zalo groups of farmers and project staff to get advice and share information.
In addition, the project provided each family with seeds and necessary inoculants according to the scale of the project they piloted. Sinh’s family grew drought-resistant grass on 0.2 hectares of their land and were given among others 2.8 kg of Guinea grass seed.
The Guinea grass field of Sinh’s family is green and lush. The grass reaches the height of an adult male, despite the hot summer. The family’s five cows and six goats can eat fresh Guinea grass all year round. Photo: ©ICRAF
Guinea grass is well-suited to the environment here. It is drought tolerant. It does not suffer from disease, and so requires little care. Due to this, Mr. Sinh’s family has time to raise 2 additional cows, bringing the total number of cows to 5, as well as grow 0.15 hectares of guava trees, and 0.2 hectares of herbs.
“Herbs brought in 22 million VND (almost 1 000 EUR) for my family last year. Next year, we will harvest guava for the first time. I estimate that in 2023, we will receive more than 3 tons of guava, which is equal to 30 million VND (or 1500 EUR)”, said Sinh.
“I spent part of that money on a washing machine, and school supplies for my children. With the rest, I bought more cows and expanded the grassed area”, said Sinh with a smile.
“Currently, there are 31 households growing grass in Son Tien commune, with a total area of 2.6 hectares. In the next winter-spring crop, Son Tien will have about 100 households participating, with a total area of 5 hectares,” said Phan Thi Cuc, an agricultural extension officer of Son Tien commune.
Sinh’s family plans to expand their grass-growing area by 1,000 m2 and raise three more cows by the end of this year.
Sinh is sharing his experience in growing Guinea grass with his neighbors. Photo: ©ICRAF
Sinh says that the project has changed his way of thinking. It has helped him to break free from entrenched farming habits and has opened up a more effective pathway for his household’s economic development. More importantly, the project has helped local people to improve soil fertility, and to know how to grow agricultural product in a sustainable way, especially in the context of a changing climate.
The Project supported the implementation of ecosystem-based adaptation measures in Ha Tinh province with a focus on climate-smart agriculture. The project was implemented from October 2019 to June 2022 in Huong Son, Huong Khe, Ky Anh, Can Loc and Vu Quang districts in Ha Tinh province. Five models were piloted, namely: Improved integrated home garden, apiculture in existing home garden and forest ecosystems, rotation of local onion and mung bean in connection with the OCOP value chain, freshwater aquaculture with giant river prawn and fish rotation, and drought-tolerant grass for raising livestock.
More than 3,560 households directly benefited from their participation in the project, and an additional 37,000 farmers benefitted indirectly. The International Climate Initiative (IKI) commissioned the project, the activities in Ha Tinh were implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) in cooperation with the province of Ha Tinh.
Since 2022, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) has been the lead ministry for the IKI. The funding program cooperates with its founding ministry, the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV), as well as the Federal Foreign Office.