Mekong Delta Miracle: Can Vietnam's Green Rice Revolution Feed the World?

  • From
    Sehlule Muzata
  • Published on
    25.01.24

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CGIAR’s Excellence in Agronomy Initiative Revolutionizing Rice Production in the Mekong Delta

In a groundbreaking development for sustainable agriculture and climate change mitigation, the Excellence in Agronomy (EIA) initiative, a research program implemented and scaled up across the Consultative Group of International Agriculture Research (CGIAR), is making waves in the Mekong Delta.

“Through our collaboration with the Department of Crop Production – Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, we have introduced this important handbook for mechanized direct seeding,” says Dr Nguyen Van Hung, senior Scientist at IRRI.

Dr. Nguyen Thanh Nghi, Nong Lam University, receiving the manual from Wanjiku Guchu, Program Manager at Excellence in Agronomy Initiative

The latest breakthrough comes with the integration into Vietnam’s agricultural policy of Technical Guideline and handover of the Manual on Mechanized Direct Seeding. The Handbook for Mechanized Direct Seeding is a collaborative effort with the Department of Crop Production – Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. This technical guideline is poised to transform rice production in the Mekong, enhancing efficiency and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A testament to the successful scaling of the EIA Initiative, the Technical Guideline and handover of the Manual on Mechanized Direct Seeding have been seamlessly integrated into Vietnam’s agricultural policy.This collaborative effort with the government marks a significant milestone, as the handbook’s insights and best practices have become an integral part of official agricultural development policy. This collaborative effort with the Department of Crop Production – Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development promises to revolutionize rice farming in the Mekong Delta, fostering efficiency and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“This comprehensive guide to mechanized direct seeding is not just a manual; it’s a catalyst for positive change,” says Dr. Nguyen Nhu Cuong, General Director of the Department of Crop Production. “We anticipate that this knowledge will elevate farming standards, enhance rice production efficiency, cut down costs, boost income, and contribute significantly to protecting the environment.”

The Handbook is designed to be a valuable resource for a wide range of stakeholders, including farmers, agricultural extension officers, cooperatives, and businesses. Its impact is expected to go beyond the individual farm, influencing agricultural practices at the community and regional levels.

Vietnam acknowledges the invaluable collaboration with international institutions and experts, particularly recognizing the contributions of the International Rice Research Institute, the Consultative Group of International Agriculture Research, and the Excellence in Agronomy Initiative.

In recognition of their substantial contributions, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development awarded certificates of merit to these organizations, for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the sustainable development of Vietnam’s agriculture and rural development sector, affirming their role in the sustainable development of Vietnam’s agricultural sector.

Dr. Nguyen Nhu Cuong, Director General of Crop Production Department, MARD and Bernard Vanlauwe, Initiative Lead at the Excellence in Agronomy and Dr. Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy Director General Department of Science, Technology and Environment MARD and Dr. Virender Kumar, Scientist at IRRI unveiling the handbook at the launch

Since 2021, the Excellence in Agronomy Initiative, through IRRI in Vietnam has aimed to alleviate hunger and poverty, ensure food security, close the gender equality gap, conserve biodiversity, mitigate the effects of climate change, and contribute to “South-South” cooperation in agricultural science and technology development.

Among the notable activities, EiA has worked closely with the Crop Production Department to deploy technical packages based on mechanized direct seeding rice (mDSR). This includes developing technologies, verifying practical benefits, building capacity, and promoting mechanized direct seeding for improved productivity and reduced emissions in rice production in the Mekong River Delta.

The culmination of these efforts is reflected in the Decision on the promulgation of the Technical Protocol and Manual on Mechanized Direct Seeding for Increased Productivity and Reduced GHG Emission in Rice Production in the Mekong River Delta by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The technical guideline of mechanized wet direct-seeding covers a range of topics from land preparation to seed preparation, machinery safety, and seeder path planning. It aims to be a comprehensive handbook for farmers, extension officers, cooperatives, and individuals involved in rice production in the Mekong Delta, emphasizing high-quality and low emission rice production. This marks a significant leap forward in sustainable agricultural practices, setting a precedent for the future of rice farming in the region. The handbook will be adapted to respond to the needs of other countries regions that produce in the world, including African countries.

“This integration into Vietnam’s agricultural policy is a significant achievement, with the initiative’s insights and best practices becoming central to official agricultural development, promising to transform rice farming in the region and significantly reduce carbon footprint. This comprehensive approach not only elevates farming standards and enhances efficiency but also signifies a remarkable milestone in sustainable agricultural practices, with the potential to influence agricultural practices beyond Vietnam at the community and regional levels,” concluded Dr Hung.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a CGIAR member, has been at the forefront of implementing this initiative since 2021.

The EiA initiative is being implemented and scaled up by ten CGIAR centers in numerous regions in the world, aiming to support and replicate agronomy solutions for adaptation to climate change reduction in the affected countries. The CGIAR centers supporting the EiA represent a global force for agricultural transformation and include AfricaRice, Alliance of Bioversity and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the International Potato Center (CIP), the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

About the Excellence in Agronomy Initiative

The CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy Initiative was launched in 2020 to improve outcomes for smallholder farmers amidst climate change. EiA is supported by the CGIAR Big Data Platform and will combine big data analytics, new sensing technologies, geospatial decision tools, and farming systems research to come up with scalable agronomic innovations for agricultural development. The initiative is not only responding to demand from the public and private sector but will also help increase efficiencies through stronger collaboration and cross-learning among CGIAR centers and within the broader agronomy R&D ecosystem. More information can be found at the CGIAR Excellence in Agronomy (EiA) website.

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