A Muong woman happy with her daily work on organic farm
Many gardens look green with organic vegetables grown by local farmers under a pilot project launched by the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (ISPARD) with financial assistance from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).
Nguyen Thi Thuy, 43, a local Muong ethnic minority farmer says, "I've earned VND 2 million (US$97) per month from growing organic vegetables, doubled what I got from growing rice in the past."
"I took part in a three-month course to learn how to grow and care for organic vegetables and found it very interesting”, Thuy says.
Processing home-made pesticides from chilli, garlic, and ginger to prevent worms from destroying the vegetables is the hardest stepHowever, scientists of the institute have helped me a lot," she adds.
The organic vegetables are planted on an area of 1.5ha under Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS), an international organic certification for small farmers, says Nguyen Xuan Te, Vice Chairman of the Luong Son District People's Committee. “Around 80 local households have benefited from the pilot project,” he says.
Pham Ben Ngoc from Green Link Co Ltd – one of the distributors of the vegetables – says they sell around 1.2 tons of organic vegetables per month at a price twice as much as it is in the markets.
One reason, he explains, is that organic vegetables are grown under the PGS and it takes more time to harvest them than those grown by artificial methods.
Moreover, these organic vegetables are safer for customers as they are no chemical residue.
According to ISPARD Director Dang Kim Son, the pilot model of growing organic vegetable with close co-operation between farmers, scientists, businesses and the State is the first step taken by the local authorities.
"This is part of Project 1956 to provide vocational training for rural labourers approved by the Government," he says.
“If the model is successful on six ha, says Nguyen Duc Xuong, head of the local co-operative, it will be applied to other areas of Hoa Binh and to other provinces.
There is high hope that it will help increase farmers’ incomes. With a total output of more than 77-tonnes of organic vegetables in the first year, the cooperative will be able to meet the domestic consumers’ demand for organic farm produce.
Growing organic vegetables will reduce the cost of buying fertilizers and pesticides but, more importantly, help reduce environmental pollution.