Thai Field Alliance project after two months of implementation.
This one-year project is designed to create and raise awareness of the impacts of pesticides to health and the environment. The project objectives are to create awareness about the importance of the farmland biodiversity to the Muong villagers’ livelihood and the impacts of pesticides to their health and environment. Further to this, the objectives include making the community aware about conservation and the utilisation of the agro biodiversity, the alternative ecological agriculture practices and how to reduce the use of pesticides. The final aim of the project is to help improve the livelihoods of the villagers in the Tu Ne and Thanh Hoi communes, which will later serve as an example for similar areas elsewhere in Vietnam.
The project is supported by the grant from the Thai Field Alliance (TFA), c/o Thai Education Foundation in Thailand.
For the first two months from February to March 2012, the project was divided into two parts: (1) TOT training for university lecturers and CECAD staff members; and (2) Training for university students, local school teachers, farmers and extension workers.
After the project was approved by TFA, the project coordinator and the project members along with field staff and university lecturers had meetings to discuss the project’s objectives and how to carry out its activities. CECAD’s project coordinator and its field staff also had meetings with local authorities in the two communes: Tu Ne and Thanh Hoi to brief them on the project’s objectives and activities. The project was well received by the local authorities as well as headmasters of the two middle schools in the two communes.
Members of the project are experienced and skilled trainers who are capable of transferring their skills and knowledge via formal training as well as doing on-the-job training. During February 10-14th 2012 in Hanoi, these members were sent to participate in the TOT, conducted by TFA on both the Agro Biodiversity (ABD) and the Pesticides Impact Assessment (PIA). The TOT training was very helpful for university lecturers and CECAD staff members, and it has since served as a successful component of this project.
Following the TOT training, project members met several times to prepare for the CECAD training on ABD for university students, local farmers, school teachers and extension workers. The training was proposed for the end of March 2012 which allowed the project staff members to conduct meetings with local farmers. Further to this, it allowed for experimental sites to be selected and gave a time allowance for the farmers to participate in the training. It should be noted that the farmland in Tu Ne and Thanh Hoi is very fragmented and therefore it was difficult for CECAD’s project staff to find an experimental site of one ha in each commune. The project staff and field staff spent a great deal of time discussing, negotiating and convincing farmers to participate in the project. Once the farmers had a firm understanding of the project’s objectives, they were very willing to participate in the project’s activities.
At the end of February 2012, project members including CECAD field staff worked with the Muong villagers to select 2 groups of farmers that were interested in ABD conservation and reducing the impacts of pesticides on people’s health and the environment. As mentioned earlier, due to the agricultural land fragmentation, dispersion and size limitation (1ha) of the experimental area, the number of households that had fields next to each other in each group varied. Ten households in Tu Ne and eighteen households in Thanh Hoi were selected for the purposes of the project.
Four teachers at the Tu Ne and Thanh Hoi middle schools were invited to the training. In addition, 3 students from the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Hanoi University of Science were selected for the training and allowed to participate in the project activities in the Tu Ne and Thanh Hoi communes.
From 24th to 26th March 2012, University lecturers and CECAD staff members conducted training about ABD for university students, local farmers, school teachers and extension workers in the Tu Ne and Thanh Hoi communes. Participants were taught about ABD and trained to make certain plants to protect selected species.
At the end of the training university students, local farmers, teachers and extension workers had a better understanding of the importance of biodiversity in their agricultural production and livelihoods. Many of the participants seemed keen to undertake a full survey of their environment in order to identify certain species to be protected/preserved and to construct and implement their own protection plan.