A tornado and heatwave welcome a new climate-smart village in Viet Nam
Assault from a tornado and the hottest weather in 40 years surrounded the inauguration of the newest climate-smart village in Viet Nam, underscoring the need to increase farmers’ resilience to climate change
During a heatwave with temperatures around 40 °C, the ‘climate-smart village’ of My Loi in southern Ha Tinh Province, Viet Nam was officially inaugurated on 29 May 2015. About 100 guests participated: 50 women and men from the village and 50 delegates and project partners from Ky Son Commune, Ky Anh District and Ha Tinh provincial departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environment and Natural Resources, the Farmers’ Union and the Research Centre for Agro-meteorology of the Viet Nam Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment and from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), World Agroforestry Centre, Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP/International Potato Center) and the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT). Special guests from Ky Son Primary School included three fourth and fifth-grade boys—Luc, Thang and Sang—who had won a logo competition to represent the climate-smart village.
The inauguration included field visits and an indoor ceremony. The visits involved one of the landmarks of My Loi, namely Cay Tram dam, which supplies irrigation water through 1-km-long cement channels to nearby rice fields. Living near the dam, a young couple, Mr Hung and Mrs Ly, showed their self-initiated experiments with numerous fruit trees, crops and ginger in bags.
Participants also visited the Vedan factory, which processes starch from most of the cassava produced in Central Viet Nam. The director of Vedan stressed the importance of working together with farmers and public and private agencies to increase cassava production and find solutions to adapt to climate change. Before seeking shade and the breeze of fans indoors, the guests walked through the village to see some examples of the existing climate-smart practices of biogas production and intercropping cassava and peanut.
‘We are proud to be one of the first six climate-smart villages in Southeast Asia. The project has consent from the villagers and, with support from the authorities and ICRAF, we are determined to make My Loi a successful model of local action’, said village leader, Mr Duong Van Tham.
‘We have been coming to Ky Son Commune since 2012 and always felt warmly welcomed and supported by the province, district and commune authorities and villagers’ said ICRAF’s country coordinator, Dr Delia Catacutan. ‘The inauguration today is the continuation of the journey for our organizations, local partners and villagers of working together to improve livelihoods in My Loi’.
My Loi is one of six CCAFS climate-smart villages in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam. The villages are learning and exchange sites for wider expansion, where CGIAR research centres and programs cooperate with national and local partners to find solutions that create synergies between food security, climate adaptation and mitigation. Some of the upcoming CCAFS activities together with farmers in My Loi include documenting existing climate-smart activities, identifying expansion processes, developing climate advice and forecasts, and enhancing biochar production.
The main farming systems in My Loi are monocultural cassava, peanut, beans and short-term acacia rotations. Being predominantly rain fed, agricultural production is exposed to multiple weather stresses, including droughts, floods, hot spells, cold snaps, three types of strong winds and the impact thereof nearly all-year round. Increasingly variable climatic conditions are adding more challenges to farmers’ livelihoods.
‘This year, we are carefully documenting the farming systems and monitoring the production of monocultures and intercropped systems’, said Dr Elisabeth Simelton, who manages the project and is ICRAF’s Focal Point for CCAFS in Viet Nam. ‘We are already observing many smart practices in the commune and some fairly simple interventions can provide more stable and probably even higher yields’.
The need for weather-smart practices (as well as more long-term climate-smart ones) was evident during the inauguration event, with My Loi experiencing a heatwave with the highest temperatures in 40 years. Villagers had not seen rain for two months, since a tornado had struck at the end of March. Coincidentally, the tornado united two of the CCAFS climate-smart villages, striking near Ekxang in Lao PDR at 6pm and My Loi at 10pm the same evening, 29 March.
‘We hope that the future cooperation between the climate-smart villages will be more constructive’, joked community organizer Mr Hai Le Van. ‘At least the tornado offered opportunities for us to observe impacts on regrowth and crop yields with the farmers’.
Research on climate-smart villages is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security