15 December 2020, Vietnam: During the wrap-up workshop of the International Rice Research Institute’s (IRRI) consultancy to the Vietnam Sustainable Agriculture Transformation (VnSAT) Project, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) acknowledged the contribution of the institute in promoting best practices for better quality rice in a sustainable framework. Moreover, the adoption of best practices significantly increased the annual rice production of Vietnam and the incomes of Vietnamese farmers in the Mekong River Delta.
Funded by the World Bank and the Vietnamese government, the VnSAT Project is a large-scale program for improving agronomic practices and management, upgrading rice processing technology for high value and quality rice, and improving public service delivery.
“MARD highly appreciated IRRI’s support in capacity building, technical assistance, sustainable farming practices, climate change mitigation, and enhancing the rice value chain. IRRI’s contribution over the past 4 years has helped increase the productivity and profitability of Vietnam’s farmer associations” said MARD Deputy Minister Dr. Le Quoc Doanh.
Over 800,000 farmers received training on the new rice cultivation technique ‘1 Must Do, 5 Reductions’ (1M5R) practices. 1M5R promotes using certified seeds and reductions in use of seed, chemical fertilisers, pesticides, water use, and post-harvest losses.
IRRI has worked with VnSAT since 2017 in eight provinces in the Mekong River Delta: An Giang, Đồng Tháp, Hậu Giang, Kiên Giang, Long An, Sóc Trăng, and Tiền Giang, as well as Cần Thơ City. By the beginning of the project in 2017, the implementation of modern best management practices for lowland irrigated rice had been achieved on 163,418 hectares. The rate of high-quality rice cultivation has reached 75-80%, even 90%, in some localities, while the profits of farmers who took part in the project has increased by 28% compared to farmers who did not.
Added Dr. Doanh, “IRRI continues to provide rice varieties with robust genetic resources and technical assistance to create high-quality rice varieties for commercial rice production. Most especially, many of these rice varieties are resistant to drought, salinity, brown plant hopper, rice blast, blight, and other valuable rice varieties that can meet market demand. IRRI also provides support in developing policies related to production, rice breeding to adapt to climate change, reducing post-harvest losses, promoting best practices for processing, and developing Vietnamese rice brands.”
Dr. Doanh also echoed that IRRI’s contributions have received many positive responses from the World Bank, project management boards, and farmers. He concluded by saying the ministry wants to continue cooperating with IRRI on rice variety research, best practices for natural resource management as demonstrated in the VnSAT project, capacity building, policy advice, and exchange of scientific and technical advances.
Joining the workshop through a teleconference video, IRRI Director General Dr. Matthew Morell said, “Vietnam contributes more than 6% of global rice production. Promoting good agricultural practices such as the ‘1 Must 5 Reductions’ will help farmers reduce pesticide use, and at the same time increase productivity towards sustainable rice production, and gradually improve the brand of Vietnam rice.”