Strengthening partnerships through advanced agroforestry research in Viet Nam
A training course has helped cement relationships with key agroforestry-development organizations in Viet Nam and prepared young researchers for future growth.
By Rachmat Mulia and La Nguyen
‘The training was really important because it introduced advanced agroforestry research to our fellow researchers. I’m sure all participants derived a lot of benefits and will follow up by implementing it in their research’, said Dr Bui Quang Dang, head of the Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Institute (NOMAFSI), when closing a two -day training workshop held in November 2015 and led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), in Phu Ho City, Viet Nam. The workshop hosted 12 participants from NOMAFSI and the Fruit and Vegetable Research Institute (FAVRI) and two from the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
‘It is important for us to strengthen relationships by introducing advanced agroforestry research based on what ICRAF has been doing so far’, said Dr Delia Catacutan, ICRAF’s Vietnam Country Representative, explaining the background to the workshop.
During the training, ICRAF experts Dr Agustin Mercado from the Philippines and La Nguyen and Rachmat Mulia from Viet Nam discussed agroforestry and complementarity, light transmission measurement and tools, and fractal branching analysis (FBA), a non-destructive method of estimating tree biomass. While complementarity and light transmission are essential for optimal agroforestry designs, FBA is an important element in understanding tree and crop interactions as well as for estimating a system’s potential to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions.
Thanks to a tool known as Sunscan, scientists can measure the Leaf Area Index (LAI) of a tree and the photo-synthetically active radiation (PAR) received by understorey plants and associated crops. Calculating these measurements allows researchers to estimate the ideal planting distances between trees and adjacent crops as well as developing finely shaded management for optimal agroforestry designs. As part of the light-transmission tool, a fish-eye camera captures a hemispherical view from which light transmission is calculated based on the gap in canopy hemispherically from sunrise to sunset.
The training combined lectures and hands-on experience. On-site measurements of LAI, PAR and light transmission, as well as FBA field data collection for pamelo trees, were conducted using trees on the NOMAFSI campus. The last session of the training was dedicated to analysing the collected field data.
Addressing directly the heads of NOMAFSI and FAVRI following the training, Dr Catacutan emphasized her willingness to maintain the partnerships with the two institutions: ‘I understand that the participants were enthusiastic about the new methods introduced at the training. Although not all would be equally interested or would have the opportunity to apply the methods in their research, I am hoping that those who are interested can be supported to use those methods and/or train others in their own teams. I am happy to discuss the next steps to support this’.