Making Agro-Climatic Bulletins with local partners in the Mekong River Delta. Photo/The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, 2022
Key messages: Climate information services are considered an effective way to strengthen the resilience of agricultural farming systems. Researchers and government partners in Vietnam have shown how to co-develop and disseminate Agro-Climatic Bulletins (ACB). These include agricultural advisories based on seasonal and weather forecast for so-called last-mile farmers to improve their agricultural decision making, reduce production costs, and improve agricultural yield and income.
The El Niño event of 2016 was one of the most extreme events in recent years in the Mekong River Delta, resulting into major crop and economic loss due to severe drought and salinity intrusion (CGIAR, 2016). While timely climate forecasts and advisories could have prevented these major impacts, also short-term weather forecasts can avert risk and crop losses. Despite accumulated traditional knowledge and experience, famers have difficulties to decide what to plant, when to plant and how to manage under the uncertain future climate and weather conditions.
With support from the project DeRISK SE Asia, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT and the Department of Crop Production introduced a participatory process to develop Agro-Climatic Bulletins or ACB with local partners. ACB is produced based on seasonal, monthly, or 10-day weather forecast through the interaction of different players along the climate service value chain. The climate service value chain refers to the production, translation, dissemination, and use of local-specific recommendations, and includes staff from hydromet centers, agricultural officers, water management staff, extension officers and farmers amongst others.
Farmers gather and read information on seasonal ACB in Tien Giang province (right). Photo: Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, 2021
Starting to see results
The preliminary findings from a household survey of more than 200 farmers in Tien Giang province showed that ACB adoption significantly increased rice yield and revenue of farmers. In addition, about 40% of interviewed farmers reported reduced use and costs of pesticides, herbicides, and/or chemical fertilizer thanks to the advisories
“I used to spray pesticides without much consideration of the expected weather conditions. The pesticides would be washed away when it rained, costing me around 500-600 thousand VND per time of application”, said a female farmer from Tan Phuoc district, Tien Giang province.
Mr. Pham Duy Kien, the Chairman of the People’s Committee of Tan Hoa Tay Commune in Tan Phuoc District of Tien Giang shared the same observation: “with information from ACB, farmers can reduce costs of spraying and production profit, since they will know in advance what the risk of potential diseases will be.”
A farmer in Tien Giang province is providing feedback and sharing their observed benefits of Agro-Climatic Bulletin. Photo/The Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, 2022
Participation in co-creation is key in understanding climate information
Stakeholders along the climate service value chain in the Mekong River Delta have been involved in the production, translation, dissemination, and use of climate information services, working together to support agricultural planning and decision-making.
Ms. Phuong, vice director of Tien Giang sub-Department of Crop Production (sub-DCP) said that through mid-season and end-of-season review meetings, farmers were found to have saved pesticides, while increasing crop yield. Another benefit is the improved relation between district and grassroots officials, as well as between agricultural officers and farmers, showing more effective two-way communication through meetings and Zalo groups. We also observed that there is remarkable increase in the knowledge, skills, and confidence of key stakeholders such as agricultural planners and extension staff in developing the ACB, monitoring and evaluating the ACB implementation process in their community”.
Mr. Le Thanh Tung, vice director of DCP in the South of Vietnam, said: “the participatory approach of ACB development brings multiple benefits. The previous hydrometeorological weather bulletins only provided one-way climate information. But here is the ACB, which is based on climate information, but also considers agricultural experts’ knowledge and locally relevant and practical information. Moreover, the bulletins are improve based on feedback from farmers and in consultation with all those involved in the development and dissemination. We have issued a regional instruction letter to replicate ACB implementation in the Mekong River Delta in 2022”.
Mr. Le Thanh Tung, vice director of DCP shares his observations on ACB application and scaling opportunities. Photo/The Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, 2022
Expanding the reach of bulletins
The ACB is now being implemented in 8 provinces, 7 in the Mekong River Delta and 1 in South Central Coast, with 351 communes in total, with interest from other provinces and regions in the country. The bulletins are disseminated via multiple communication channels, including printed posters, Zalo groups, loudspeakers, extension staff and through meetings of local partners (e.g., commune people’s committees, Farmers’ Union). Through Zalo/mobile app, the project reached an estimated 130,000 farmers (or 520,000 beneficiaries), although a larger group may be exposed through posters, loudspeakers, and other channels.
As next step, DCP and the DeRISK project plan to expand the implementation of the ACB in existing provinces and beyond while working with relevant government agencies on a model that can be sustained and scaled. The successful implementation of the DeRISK project in Vietnam illustrates how climate services informed farmer decision-making that enabled them to better manage risks, take advantage of favourable climate conditions, and adapt to change.
About the project: DeRISK SE Asia refers the project “Applying seasonal climate forecasting and innovative insurance solutions to climate risk management in the agriculture sector in South East Asia”. The project is led by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and implemented by the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, with funding support from the International Climate Initiative (IKI), (https://deriskseasia.org).