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Interesting experiences after visiting agro-forestry models, forest management and living water management in Dien Bien province

Interesting experiences after visiting agro-forestry models, forest management and living water management in Dien Bien province

Sustainable agro-forestry farming, adapting to the negative impacts of climate change, has been and will be a top priority of SRD in its efforts with the people, the stakeholders in the provinces’ project and many other NGOs to work together to find specific solutions to the above problems.


The project “Mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the agricultural and forestry sector of the northwest highlands”, sponsored by Bread for the World (Germany), has been implemented by SRD since May 1, 2021, with many practical activities and models. Within the scope of the project's activities, from September 5 to September 8, 2022, SRD cooperated with partners in Son La province; The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Tuan Giao district organized a visit and learned about agricultural and forestry models in Tuan Giao district, Dien Bien province.


The out-of-province visit attracted 31 people (17 men; 15 women) representing the people, the management board of 16 villages in 4 project communes, leaders of 4 project communes, representatives of Thuan Chau district's Agriculture Department, Thuan Chau District Forest Protection Department, staff of the Sub-Department of Plant Protection and Conservation of Son La province. Specific models are visited, experienced and exchanged in the Tuan Giao district including the agro-forestry coffee farming model; the growing fruit trees model; the community forest management model; the water supply for community activities model; the growing cardamom under the forest canopy – sustainable forest management model; salmon and sturgeon farming model.


In Hua Sa A village, Toa Tinh commune, a market-based agro-forestry system to protect the environment, improve livelihoods, enhance forest and landscape management, and respond to climate change has been established with many types of crops intermingled with coffee trees.



Model of agro-forestry combined with landscape

Model of Son Tra – Coffee – Livestock grass


The model of landscape agroforestry was established in 2017 by the World Agro-Forestry Research Organization in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Dien Bien province with 3 main tree species: Coffee, Peach, and Muong rang rang. Not only supplementing the shading function for Coffee trees, and enhancing the source of biological protein from the nodules on the roots of legumes, but the bright yellow and pink colours come from the flower colours of two complementary plants such as the maggots painting for the beauty of the landscape of the Coffee Farm. Planting methods and planting density were visited by members of the delegation to exchange with agro-forestry staff in Toa Tinh commune to draw many valuable lessons.

The next agroforestry model to be visited is named "Son Tra - Coffee - Livestock grass". This is an effective anti-erosion solution with a multi-layered canopy system. The top floor of the model with Son Tra species, a medium-sized tree with shading function, minimizing frost for coffee trees, and preventing soil erosion, not only that, the annual income from Son Tra fruit also contributes to household livelihood improvement. Under the shadow of Son Tra trees, Coffee is planted staggered in the shape of "crocodile fangs" to make the most of the protective function of the soil.

Close to the ground are rows of Guinea grass planted with a density of 5 rows of coffee interspersed with 1 row of grass. Guinea grass is a favourite animal feed for livestock, with good trampling, drought tolerance, moisture retention and soil erosion resistance. Most of the people in the visiting delegation said that this is a sustainable model, adapting to climate change, but to maintain the stability of the model, it is necessary to adhere to agricultural extension measures closely and for a long time and ensure productivity for Coffee. Control of Guinea grass by mechanical methods, combined with planting Son Tra with appropriate density, especially techniques of pruning to create the canopy for Son Tra.


Model of growing Macadamia in Phu village, Quai Cang commune


Continuing the study tour program, the delegation was introduced by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Tuan Giao district to Phu village, Quai Cang commune to visit and learn the model of growing fruit trees. Quai Cang commune has cooperated with Dien Bien Macadamia Joint Stock Company to propagate and mobilize people to convert inefficient crops on upland, bare land and bare hills to grow macadamia trees. Currently, this tree is growing well, helping to green the bare land and bare hills. This is a very interesting model when there is a cooperation between people and companies/enterprises and the legal guarantee of local authorities. In this model, members of the visiting delegation saw first-hand how to plant and take care of with the utmost respect for biodiversity. People and companies do not use burning herbicides but control the grass to grow naturally, help soil and plants have moisture, and create natural humus, fauna, and diversity of soil micro-organisms that benefit plants and the environment.


Intercropping fruit trees: Green-skinned pomelo, Thai jackfruit, Guava


In addition, another fruit tree planting model introduced by Quai Cang locality is the intercropping fruit trees model: green-skinned pomelo, Thai jackfruit, and guava. This is a safe fruit tree planting model because of the limited use of pesticides in combination with the use of treated organic fertilizers with Trichoderma fungi. On the same area with a variety of fruits, the householder also raises a small number of native chickens. The grass control technique of the householder was very impressive, the grass was cleaned around the canopy without using herbicides. This is a model with high biodiversity in agro-ecosystems. The sharing of valuable farming techniques, as well as the sharing of delicious pomelos sent by the householder to everyone in Thuan Chau group, shows the hospitality of Tuan Giao people.




Model of community forest management in Can village, Quai Cang commune


Tuan Giao is also one of the localities heavily affected by climate change. The model of community forest management in Can village, Quai Cang commune is a focal model of adaptation to climate change. With more than 120 hectares of protection forest, the Can village community together build a forest protection agreement, the forest protection group is supported by the budget from the policy of payment for forest environmental services. Every month, the forest protection team is divided into groups consisting of people who have knowledge of forest law and have good health to patrol, control and protect the community forest. Fire prevention is strictly carried out by the Can village community with the spirit of "prevention is key". Regulations on the use of payments for forest environmental services were also developed and implemented for the purpose of forest protection and development. The community forest in Can village is well protected and in parallel with that, the forest restoration work has been implemented, so the natural water source from the forest is guaranteed not only for the living needs of the people but also for the irrigation of crops. Having witnessed the success of the community forest model in Can village, the members of the visiting delegation learned a lot and that knowledge will contribute positively to the forest protection and development of 4 project communes in Thuan Chau.

Faced with the situation of lack of hygienic water in most of the project villages, the visiting delegation was able to see the model of community water supply in Huoi Long village, Mun Chung commune. It used to be one of the localities with severe water shortage, but now under the water management of Mun Chung Commune Water Management Board, the people's living standards have gradually stabilized, and hygienic water is guaranteed for more than 200 households, 4 schools and social agencies.



Visiting and learning about the water supply model in Mun Chung commune


With the non-refundable support from the business sector of VND 200 million and the additional contribution of funds and labour, concentrated water works were invested. With the mass mobilization work that the commune has implemented, the Domestic water supply system with the meter is provided to each household. Commune leaders and police show their determination to get involved in acts of sabotage to the water regulation system. Water management and regulation are operated smoothly under the management of the Water Management Board, the fee of 2,000 VND/m3 is just enough to ensure the cost of operation and maintenance, and it’s reasonable for both poor households and near-poor households. With a small initial investment to have a stable domestic water supply system, Mun Chung's community water management model is applied by representatives of the People's Committees of 4 project communes to gradually improve the situation of water shortage.

Developing non-timber forest products, creating livelihoods and protecting forests sustainably with the model of growing cardamom under the forest canopy in Ten Hon village, Tenh Phong commune. With the main ethnic group being the Mong people living in the forest, Cardamom trees were brought to Ten Hon as a key to unlocking opportunities for poverty alleviation of local people. Ranging from VND 100,000 to VND 120,000 for 1 kg of dried cardamom, this medicinal plant has become the main source of income for the Mong people. Realizing the benefits of the forest, the Ten Hon community joins hands to protect the forest, comply with the forest law, and sustainably cultivate cardamom. However, the model of growing Cardamom under the forest canopy also has many potential risks of causing deforestation, requiring close coordination between the community, forest protection officers and forest rangers.



Planting black cardamom under the canopy combines with forest protection

Breeding Salmon, Sturgeon


Located at an altitude of more than 1200 m, favoured by a natural forest ecosystem with a cool climate and year-round streams, Mr Son Hanh in Ten Hon village has invested in a salmon and sturgeon farming model providing food with high economic value for the Northwest seafood market. Visiting the salmon and sturgeon farming model helps the Thuan Chau people understand more about the values ​​​​of mother nature if they protect the forest well.

At the end of the visit, the lessons and experiences gained from the models will be spread by the visiting team members to the village community, contributing to building agroforestry that is sustainable and adaptable to climate change.




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