Agroforestry set to grow even more in Viet Nam
The World Agroforestry Centre and the Viet Nam Academy of Forest Sciences have signed a formal agreement to work more closely together on agroforestry research, says Robert Finlayson
On 16 December 2013 in the offices of the World Agroforestry Centre’s Viet Nam program in Hanoi, the president of the Viet Nam Academy of Forest Sciences, Dr Trieu Van Hung, and the country coordinator of the Centre’s program in Viet Nam, Dr Delia Catacutan, signed a formal agreement to increase cooperation between the two organizations.
‘We have been working together since 2008’, said Dr Catacutan. ‘This agreement formally acknowledges the extent of our cooperation with the Academy and sets out a clear path for deepening the relationship’.
The agreement emphasizes four main areas of cooperation. The first is increasing the capacity of the Academy in agroforestry research through training, seminars, workshops in technical matters and in the development of funding proposals and creating more post-graduate research positions. Specifically, this will involve developing and promoting agroforestry systems that will improve farmers’ livelihoods and simultaneously protect environmental services; identifying and growing superior seeds and seedlings; establishing an agroforestry classification database and a gene bank; helping to rehabilitate degraded land with agroforestry systems; disseminating research findings; testing and developing negotiation-support tools.
The second emphasis is specifically on working in close partnership to identify and develop research proposals in order to increase production and judiciously manage the natural resources of Viet Nam.
The third is implementation of the successful research proposals in a coordinated and collaborative manner to ensure a harmonious working environment that maximizes the Centre’s ‘international knowledge’ and the Academy’s ‘local knowledge’.
The fourth is production of scientific publications and advisory (aka ‘extension’) material. This is an important pathway for sharing the results of the former three points to the nation and to the world and to effectively promote agroforestry as a way of improving livelihoods.
‘Despite our already successful partnership’, said Dr Hung, ‘the existing organizational arrangements did not meet our requirements not fulfill the potential of the relationship. Now we have more activities in forests, so we want to upgrade our capacity and the quality of our research capabilities. Last year, we reopened our agroforestry unit as part of our silviculture division and we want to extend our research into tree improvement and domestication, especially in the Northwest, to help farmers in remote areas where we do not yet have research activities. This agreement with the Centre will add considerable strength to our existing human resources and we expect much more progress in research and in sharing knowledge and information’.
Two visiting scientists—Dr Ingrid Öborn, senior research fellow with the Centre, professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and a leader of the CGIAR Research Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics; and Dr Jianchu Xu, of the Centre’s China and East Asia program—both spoke and welcomed the formalization of the collaboration, Dr Öborn highlighting the collaboration she had enjoyed with the Academy in Ha Tinh province and that this agreement created another tie with the Centre, the CGIAR and, through her, to Sweden; while Dr Xu extended the China office’s full support and offers of collaboration in genetic material, spatial analysis and post-graduate research.
After signing, Dr Catacutan closed the official ceremony, commenting that ‘early next year she looked forward to deepening the relationship with collaborative work on the Agroforestry for Smallholders’ Livelihoods in Northwestern Viet Nam project, gene banks, and a workshop on fruit trees for health and nutrition: small steps that will lead to big outcomes’.
This work is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry component on landscape management of forested areas for environmental services, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods.