“Since we joined the project in 2020, my family has earned about 100 million VND per year from gardening, after paying all the expenses. For my family, receiving support from the international climate initiative has been a blessing!”, Ms. Lieu said sincerely.
THE DREAM OF OVERCOMING POVERTY
Mrs. Nguyen Thi Lieu lives in Son Hong commune, Huong Son district, Ha Tinh province. Family food security used to be a constant concern of Mrs. Lieu’s, due to the harsh weather conditions and poor soil quality. Mrs. Lieu and her family have always worked hard but had remained very poor. More than 10 years ago, her family became determined to find a way out of poverty. They borrowed money to develop a forest farm economic model, but without the required knowledge, they sadly failed.
At that time, with a total of 41,000m2 of garden land, Mrs. Lieu’s family knew how to divide it up to plant many kinds of trees– mainly orange, pomelo and acacia. However, the agricultural knowledge they applied at that time had come only from their parents and neighbors. Despite trying deep watering, using chemical fertilizers, and removing weeds, each year her family collected less than three tons of oranges and pomelos. After deducting expenses, there was no profit. Mrs. Lieu was very sad, but there was no alternative source of income available. This gardening was her family’s main source of income.
At the end of 2020, Mrs. Lieu’s family was selected to participate in the SIPA Ha Tinh project‘s activity to develop an integrated agroforestry farm ecosystem and beekeeping model. The project supported her family by supplying pineapple and peanut weed, fertilizers, and bees. But the most valuable thing for the family was being able to attend the project’s training sessions. Here she learned about climate- smart agricultural production practices, how to integrate ecological design into the garden to improve the use–value of the land, the production of compost, and the use of bio-fertilizers during plantation.
… AND THE DREAM COMES TRUE
Last year, her family had a great harvest with about two tons of pomelo (a 30% increase) and four tons of oranges (50% increase). Thanks to the project’s technical guidance and market linkage, the products were of good quality and sold at 30% higher than the market price. In 2022, Ms. Lieu expects the total tonnage of pomelos and oranges that her family will harvest to be similar to that of last year.
Under the guidance of the project and the Agriculture Extension Center, Mrs. Lieu’s family has also intercropped pineapple and peanut-grass with the orange and pomelo trees in their garden. Pineapple and peanut-grass are disease-free and easy to care for. They help retain soil moisture, prevent soil erosion, and fix nitrogen in the soil. This has enabled the family to reduce labor and water costs. They only water the orange and pomelo trees once a week now, compared to three times a week previously. The family cows and deers has enough fresh peanut grass for food all year round. The pineapple plants produced their first fruit this year. They made nearly 10 million VND from 1.2 tons of pineapple.
Regarding their beekeeping endeavours, thanks to the great technical support and guidance of the project staff, her family has been able to increase its colony from an initial 10 beehives to 17 hives, harvesting nearly 100 liters of honey per year. They were able to sell the honey at 220,000 VND/liter, about 30% higher than the market price due to its high quality.
In 2021, Mrs. Lieu’s total family income was nearly 260 million VND. Moreover, thanks to planting more pineapples and peanut grass, Mrs. Lieu estimates this will increase to more than 270 million VND in 2022.
Other households in the SIPA project’s integrated agro-forestry farm ecosystem and beekeeping model have similar incomes to Mrs. Lieu’s family. In 2021, their average income was 257 million VND, and up to August 2022 it has been in excess of 273 million VND.
Last year, Mrs. Lieu used part of her earnings to purchase more farm tools for production. This year, she plans to use some of her earnings to upgrade her kitchen appliances so that she and the other women in the family can spend more time relaxing. She will also buy some herbal tonics to improve her family’s health.
Since 2021, Mrs. Lieu has shared her experiences with at least 20 households around the area and provided them with hundreds of pineapple cuttings and peanut grass for growing in their own gardens. “I feel very happy, as many of them tell me they are successful”, she said.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Mai, Agricultural Extension Officer of Son Hong Commune, said, “Mrs. Lieu’s forest farm model will be replicated across Son Hong commune by the end of this year. It is expected that 50 households in the commune will receive technical guidance on garden improvement and 20 households will receive plant material for pineapple and peanut grass crops”.
The Home Garden Improvement Program, which was launched in August 2021, covered a total of 1,099 households in Ha Tinh. The program is a collaboration between the Ha Tinh SIPA project and the Ha Tinh Farmers Union.
The SIPA Ha Tinh project supported the implementation of ecosystem-based adaptation measures in Ha Tinh Province with a focus on climate-smart agriculture. The project operated from October 2019 to June 2022 in Huong Son, Huong Khe, Ky Anh, Can Loc and Vu Quang districts of Ha Tinh province. More than 3,560 households with more than 7,000 women and 7,000 men have participated and benefited directly. A further 37,000 farmers benefited indirectly from the project. The International Climate Initiative (IKI) funded the project through Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. 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.