Farming worms for climate-smart agriculture in Vietnam

Twenty-three farmers from My Loi village in Viet Nam were recently trained in vermiculture—raising worms on farms to produce fertilizer and improve soil. Vermicomposting will help the farmers improve one of their priority ‘climate-smart agriculture’ interventions—home gardens.

Mr. Duong Van Tham (Extreme right) and women interested in earthworms. Photo by Le Van Hai/ICRAF

Mr. Duong Van Tham (Extreme right) and women interested in earthworms. Photo by Le Van Hai/ICRAF

Inspired by a study tour to the Philippines, the leader of one of the Climate Smart Villages (CSVs) in Vietnam, Mr Duong Van Tham, is introducing vermiculture to My Loi, a village within the Ha Tinh province of Vietnam.

Vermiculture is the process of using worms to decompose organic waste into useful fertilizer. The worms decompose organic and livestock waste (manure) into vermicompost, a good fertilizer for plants which also helps improve soil structure and water retention.

The vermicompost in My Loi will be used in the commune’s school vegetable gardens as well as on farmers’ own home gardens; home-garden improvement has been identified as a priority climate-smart agriculture intervention for My Loi.

Red earthworms, Perionyx excavatus (Perr.). Vermiculture is part of making villages climate-smart. Photo: ICRAF/Le Van Hai

Red earthworms, Perionyx excavatus (Perr.). Vermiculture is climate-smart. Photo by Le Van Hai/ICRAF

On 13 October 2015, twenty-three households raising cattle and buffalo were trained in vermiculture. Ms. Tran Thi Luc, a vermiculture farmer from Nghe An province, was one of the trainers. She showed My Loi farmers how to make a simple shed and how to feed the worms with manure. The worms can also be fed other organic materials, such as straw and peanut leaves and some types of organic household wastes. As part of the training the farmers constructed a worm shed.

Vermiculture demands little time and can be carried out by women and men, young and elderly, which makes it an inclusive practice. “It’s not a big challenge for me to set up a place and manage the worms,” said Mr Duong Van Thai, a physically challenged war veteran.

Currently 11 households have each received 50 kg of earthworm material. “We expect the earthworms to double in a month or two,’ said Mr Nguyen Viet Nghi. “Then these families will provide worms in a ‘revolving fund’ to other households.” “When there are enough earthworms, the compost will benefit many home gardens in the village,” said village leader Mr Tham. As worm production gathers pace some of the worms will be fed to the native chickens the farmers keep, as a good source of protein.

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Participants learn how to set up worm shed. Photo by Le Van Hai/ICRAF

As part of the program earthworms of the genus Perionyx excavatus (Perr.) were provided for distribution to 50 households in My Loi.

According to Mr Nguyen Viet Nghi, a vermiculture expert and farmer from Nghe An province, another attractive benefit of vermiculture is that the worms reduce odours in livestock-dense areas to a minimum.

The vermiculture training in My Loi was supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the Vietnam office of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

Blog by Le Van Hai of ICRAF-Vietnam

 

See related blog: Farmer master chefs reveal the colourful diversity of food

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