As climate change affects agriculture across the developing world, food security is a painful reality for farmers who depend on their crops to eat and eke out a meager living. Every grain of rice they grow is valued — USAID is helping farmers in Vietnam to bolster their harvest yields.
USAID, the United States Agency for International Development, implemented the Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program in 2012, aimed at promoting rice production practices that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve livelihoods with Vietnam’s agricultural extension services.
The program is focused on enhancing climate change resilience and working with all echelons of the Vietnamese society, from the community level up to the national level. Farmers are learning new agricultural techniques and are putting into practice climate-smart livelihoods in order to improve quality of life. They are applying new national policies and strategies in response to rising temperatures and changing weather pattern concerns. The program mainly concentrates on environmental conditions in Vietnam’s vulnerable forest and delta landscapes.
The Thanh Hoa and Kon Tum provinces have been selected by pilots for moving green growth strategies. With the implementation of innovative land use planning and training programs including local government, civil society and the private sector are demonstrating measurable improvements in carbon stocks and environmental services.
The Mekong and Red River Delta areas are increasingly falling victim to climate-related hazards such as storms, flooding, drought, salinity and sea level rise. These deltas are home to some of the most heavily populated and economically productive areas of Vietnam, making the region especially important as well as vulnerable to the country’s stability. USAID is working with the government and communities of the Long An and Nam Dinh provinces to help the population identify climate-related risks and how to take action in order to provide long term resilience.
USAID is working in partnership with several organizations including Winrock International, Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, provincial governments, the Netherlands Development Organization, American Red Cross, Vietnam Red Cross and the Center for Sustainable Rural Development.
In Long An province, with training provided by USAID, farmers across the region have boosted rice yields dramatically, in many cases up to 25 percent more. This means that families once struggling with food insecurity and little to no profit from rice sales are eating better and making a better living, improving quality of life.
Before The Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program went into effect, farmers with minimal agricultural experience suffered preventable crop losses due to ignorance such as overuse or imbalance of fertilizers. As a result of the program, people learned how to apply new techniques including development of internal drainage lines and favoring conditions that lead to stronger and healthier rice plants such as rice paddy leveling.
No matter what one’s views of climate change are, it is a very real problem for the poor with real effects on the people struggling to survive in the delta and forest regions of Vietnam. USAID has proved an essential resource in the developing world. With the programs offered by the agency and its partners, poverty could soon be a thing of the past.
– Jason Zimmerman