Studying climate-smart agriculture in Vietnam

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The National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway), in partnership with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), is offering a Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security master’s degree program (MScCCAFS). The program aims to provide graduate students in-depth knowledge on the synergy of climate change with agriculture and food security in a global setting. To apply what they learn in classes, students are exposed to real-life settings, including research projects in different parts of the world focusing on adaptation and mitigation strategies.

This year, eight MScCCAFS students went to Vietnam to research about the various angles of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) for their graduate theses. Some of them studied alternate wetting and drying (AWD) and climate-smart pest management. Other students focused on participatory selection of rice varieties, CSA prioritization, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions monitoring tools. They conducted their researches under the technical supervision of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the Vietnam National University of Agriculture (VNUA).

A scalable mitigation technology

The AWD in Vietnam was studied for its adaptation, mitigation, and profitability potential. The studies that covered this technology found that AWD can minimize the effects of fertilizer contamination in soils and reduce the GHG emissions of farms. In his study, Cian Mulligan concluded that AWD can even be profitable for farmers if they control their use of certain fertilizers.

In literature reviews, studies are disputing the profitability of AWD. Most of them; however, agree that AWD is a scalable mitigation technology. To fully realize the mitigation potential of AWD, GHG emissions monitoring tools must embed AWD-related data into their systems.

The study of Annette Cotter measured AWD for its potential to reduce GHG emissions, and it also listed the prerequisites to identify ideal AWD sites. The study was conducted in Red River Delta and Mekong River Delta, Vietnam’s major rice-producing regions. It concluded that certain GHG monitoring tools can integrate AWD data on its system, enabling implementers to measure its mitigation potential.

Adaptation practices and participatory approaches

Climate-smart pest management is an adaptation practice that attracts certain biological agents preying on specific pests. In the study conducted by Kate Greaney, Phytoseiid mites were assessed on whether they could manage the threat of red spider mites on cassava monocrops and intercrops or not. It concluded that climate-smart pest management is better practiced in intercropping.

To determine the appropriate climate-smart technologies and practices in specific settings, the farmers themselves must be consulted. Natalie Cunningham discussed CSA prioritization in the mountainous region of Northern Vietnam. Meanwhile, Umor Gift focused on the participatory selection of rice varieties in Ma Climate-Smart Village.

These studies highlight the role of academia in crafting climate action. Academic research must be set on the ground to generate results that represent and address the true plights of farmers. Farmers, then, must also be involved in research to ensure their situation and needs are well considered.

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