Tag Archives: Vietnam

Improving Crop Resilience and Income for Rice Farmers in Thai Nguyen Province, Vietnam

by Tricia Brick

When a series of tropical storms struck Duong Thi Thanh’s village in northern Vietnam last summer, she feared that her rice harvest would be lost. “I thought we would have nothing to eat and sell for this crop,” she said, noting that a neighbor’s rice fields, grown using conventional methods, were severely damaged by the storms. But Thanh’s crops, cultivated using practices of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), survived the rains and brought a good price at market.

Hoang Van Phu, director of the International Cooperation Center (ICC) of Thai Nguyen University, has been working for more than a decade to bring SRI practices to smallholder farmers in the region, with the goal of increasing farmers’ efficiency, productivity, food security, and income through the use of environmentally sustainable methods. Buddhist Global Relief grants have supported the center’s efforts since 2011.

The BGR grant for fiscal year 2016-17  was used to support training for farmers in SRI methods via the creation of three large-scale collective fields in the Phu Binh district of northern Vietnam’s Thai Nguyen province.

SRI cultivation practices involve the planting of fewer seeds, with seedlings transplanted according to precise recommendations to encourage stronger root growth; fertilization with compost and other organic materials; frequent weeding; and reduced water use. These methods have resulted in more resilient plants and crop yields 20 to 50 percent higher than in traditional methods. Other benefits of SRI include a need for fewer seeds per hectare, a reduction in the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and improved water conservation.

While the use of SRI methods has been increasing among rice farmers in the region over the past decade, the fragmented nature of the local farmland has proven an obstacle to maximizing productivity and efficiency. Most farming households in the province raise rice on multiple small plots, with up to seven varieties of rice grown in each field. As a result, farmers have difficulty applying standardized methods across their fields, as the varieties often require differing optimal growing conditions and cultivation calendars. Further, these mixed crops are difficult to market, given vendor demand for single varieties.

This year, in alignment with government efforts to encourage farmers to organize as collectives, the ICC established large-scale fields, each 50 to 70 hectares (about 123 to 197 acres) in area, in three communes in Phu Binh district. A single rice variety was cultivated in each field, enabling farmers to tailor growing conditions to the selected variety and thus optimize labor efficiency.

Supported by the BGR grant, the fields became outdoor classrooms for farmers’ field school classes in SRI methods. More than 200 farmers from nine villages in the communes participated in training courses and field workshops to learn about SRI practices on large-scale fields, evaluate the successes and challenges of the model fields, and consider changes that might improve the next generation of crops. The ICC also provided weeding tools and other materials to farmers using SRI.

The grant also supported conferences bringing together representatives from provincial and district government and other agencies with local farmers to develop plans for the fields and, at the end of the grant period, to study the project’s results. The ICC reports that this cooperative engagement has been key to the project’s success.

Tricia Brick is a volunteer writer for BGR.

Projects for Fiscal Year 2016–17—Part 6 (of 6)

BGR Staff

21. Peru: Vocational Education Training for Poor Women
NEW PARTNER

Founded in 1989, the Asociación Grupo de Trabajo Redes (AGTR) is devoted to providing vocational education to women and mothers employed in domestic work while teaching them about their human and labor rights. The Association runs an employment agency, La Casa de Panchita, to help women find jobs with adequate pay and respect for their skills.

This BGR partnership–along with the Nicaragua project our first in Latin America–will benefit women who have been employed in domestic work from childhood. The women find themselves struggling to provide proper nutrition, shelter, and other amenities to their families due to a paucity of employment options.These women are trapped in poverty, and as a result their daughters too will be trapped, thus perpetuating the cycle.

To break the poverty trap into which many girls are born, AGTR empowers women and mothers through vocational educational training. Through a grant from BGR, AGTR will provide training to 100 marginalized women who wish to undertake domestic work, while also giving access to employment through their employment agency. Utilizing an adequate salary, these women and their families will escape the misery of hunger, while their daughters escape the need to work and can remain in school. The women will be taught about their human and labor rights and will be given access to AGTR’s in-house employment agency, which upholds the standards of the organization.

Woman and Boys

No more kids under 14 working

The Vocational Educational Training (VET) workshops are divided into three 3- hour sessions. The women will learn about their labor rights as domestic workers, become better prepared to negotiate a just salary, and learn about the social benefits such as healthcare available to all individuals who are employed full time. After students complete the training, they are equipped to begin their search for just and decent employment. Continue reading

Projects for Fiscal Year 2015–16—Part 5 (of 6)

BGR Staff

19. Sri Lanka: Empowering Young Women

Sri Lanka_CENWOR

CENWOR (Centre for Women’s Research), founded in 1984, aims to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in Sri Lanka. One of its major missions has been providing girls from poor families with education and vocational training. Drop-out rates in Sri Lanka are very high: a third of all students do not attend their final two years of high school, and the rate is higher for female students. For the fifth time, BGR will be sponsoring a year-long project with CENWOR intended to help girls who have not completed their high school education. The project will select forty girls—ten each from Colombo, Galle, Kandy, and Anuradhapura—and enable them to enroll in the technician program at Level 5 at the State Colleges of Technology. The grant will cover a coordinator, travel costs, and tuition and fees for the forty girls. Annually renewable project.
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Projects for the Next Fiscal Year—Part 5 (of 6)

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

15. Rwanda and Malawi: Training in Organic Agriculture

Ecology Action of the Mid-Peninsula is a U.S.–based organization that disseminates a system of organic agriculture called Grow Biointensive. BGR is providing a second grant to Ecology Action for a two-year project that has been training farmers from Rwanda in the Grow Biointensive method.  The expected outcome is improvement in the health of malnourished children, increase in the diversity and quantity of household food, and better knowledge of health and care-giving. Farmers should also be able to increase their earnings through sale of surplus produce on the market.

In this second year, two master trainers will train a minimum of four Community Resource Persons (CRP) for Rwanda, who will then train individuals and their communities. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 could receive training directly, and an additional 1,500 to 2,000 trained by CRP and community members. The project includes a third year of support for trainers in Malawi, who hope to spread Grow Biointensive to other parts of the country, with a special focus on widows and their families. Year two of a two-year project.

16. Sri Lanka: Empowering Young Women

CENWOR (Centre for Women’s Research), founded in 1984, aims to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in Sri Lanka. One of its major missions has been providing girls from poor families with education and vocational training. For the fourth time, BGR will be sponsoring a year-long project with CENWOR intended to remedy inadequacies in the public education system that result in a high dropout rates for girls. The project will locate ten girls not attending school at any level, determine the reason, and provide them with the support they need to return to school.

CENWOR will also locate fifty girls who dropped out of their final years of high school and provide them with vocational training that will enable them to find employment. CENWOR will also offer the women complementary courses in English, basic IT, personality development, and gender issues. Annually renewable project.

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Help on the Way: New Buddhist Global Relief Programs (Part II)

 

As a followup to our June 21 post on Buddhist Global Relief’s new programs, we are pleased to announce new support to communities in Sri Lanka and Vietnam:

Tam Binh Red Cross (hospital feeding)

For the fourth consecutive year, BGR continues to support Vietnam’s Tam Binh Red Cross’ program to help the poor feed family members who are hospitalized. Located in the Tam Binh district in the Mekong Delta region, a single hospital exists to serve more than half a million people. The price of a hospital stay does not include food, and poverty-stricken families who must carry the heavy weight of medical and hospital costs are further burdened by the need to buy food for their ill family members. BGR’s funding will allow the Red Cross to purchase in-season vegetables, tofu and charcoal for cooking for these patients. These funds are leveraged with the volunteer labor of more than 80 volunteers, who prepare the meals and serve lunch and dinner to the most vulnerable ill and poor people.

Tam Binh Red Cross (Scholarships)

BGR continues to support the scholarship program of the Tam Binh Red Cross with a third year of funding. Entrenched rural poverty in Vietnam has forced many families to make the difficult decision to keep their children at home to work in the fields rather than send them to schools where they cannot afford the basic fees. BGR funds will provide the annual enrollment fee, educational materials and basic health care for 150 students, enabling them to overcome the barriers of poverty and to continue their studies. 100% of BGR’s funds will be used for these scholarships, without any deduction for administrative costs. To qualify for these scholarships, each student must meet criteria for low income, high teacher recommendations, and good conduct. By providing educational opportunities to these promising students, BGR hopes to break the cycle of poverty in their families.

Sarvodaya (Kelwatte water supply)

This year, BGR is supporting its long-time partner, Sarvodaya (“Welfare of All”) USA with a life-saving project to provide reliable clean water supplies in the Kelwatte district of Sri Lanka. Currently, these residents obtain untreated water from an open and polluted stream. An assessment of the needs of these villagers showed a high rate of childhood disease from drinking unsafe water. Dry seasons threaten water shortages every year, putting crops, livelihoods and health at risk. BGR funds will help provide safe and clean water to hundreds of residents with a new gravity water supply system. The local community participates in the construction by providing direct labor through shramadana: “sharing work, knowledge, talents and time.” This project will empower the community, raise individual and self-esteem and be a model project for neighboring communities. Thus, the project will provide a foundation for personal and social awakening and offer the gifts of water and health.

In making these grants, BGR addresses the twin problem of pollution and poverty,  helps ill and vulnerable members of poor families, and acknowledges the critical role of education in escaping intergenerational poverty and hunger.