DONG TAN VILLAGE FARMERS:
Safeguarding themselves against Climate Change
Dong Tan in Da Loc Commune, Than Hoa province is a coastal village which is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Typhoons, floods, and landslides are annual occurrences that have caused an alarming rise in sea level. This in turn has resulted in salinity intrusion, damaging cultivated lands on which 70% of households are dependent.
Addressing food security and nutrition has been a major problem in the area. The lack of rice varieties that are suitable to the soil condition in the province puts farmers’ livelihoods at risk, with even the traditional varieties having already been lost.
During the summer season when there is less salinity intrusion, farmers are able to plant rice but their harvest is just enough for their families mainly because the available planting materials are of poor quality.
Although the varieties frequently used such as the Huong Thom No.1, Bac Thom No. 7, and LT2 have good eating quality, the yield is low yield these varieties were developed in soils that had less salinity intrusion and therefore not suitable to the village’s agricultural lands.
On the other hand, hybrid rice varieties like the Nhi Uu 838 and the modern rice variety KD1, though of poor eating quality, occupy a large proportion of arable land for they can be cultivated in saline and alum soil conditions. The Nhi Uu 838 is used mainly as livestock feed.
Farmers have selected the M2 variety which has good salt tolerance at the foot of high land areas and produces higher yield at 50 quintal per hectare. Its quality is as good as that of Huong thom Number 1, thus farmers are setting aside seeds for the next cropping season to save on their capital for hybrid rice.
Thus far, their expenses have been reduced to a total of 80,000 to 100,000 VND/kgs. The use of less pesticides decreased expenditures due to the application of SRI or system of rice intensification.
Moreover, the average volume produced in one season has improved. From the 50 quintal per hectare yield of the old hybrid rice varieties, the new varieties have potential yield from 68 to 70 quintal per hectare. The local rice varieties have an average yield from 30 to 40 quintal per hectare while those provided by the Food Crop Research Institute (FCRI) have potential yield from 50 to 62 quintal per hectare.
Currently, trained farmers deliver their M2 to other farmers within the village. Thus far, there are no plans to produce the variety on a massive scale to benefit more farming households. At this stage, the farmers want to continue with their research on the performance of the M2 variety in the next cropping season in the lowlands to assess its resilience especially against typhoons.
The positive results have shown farmers that they can deal with their situations proactively. By applying their knowledge and skills they acquired in the farmer field school training, they are improving their crops with sound farming practices, thereby contributing to sustainability in the agricultural system in their village.
To date, 20 trained and 15 untrained farmers have adopted the varieties, with potential of scaling up in a nearby village, Yen Dong.
The prospects of the M2 variety being propagated and then adopted by more farmers in more villages should make the village of Dong Tan proud of its own hard working farmers.
[This publication has been produced with the assistance of the International Treaty. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE) and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the International Treaty.]