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Farmer-to-farmer: How is climate-smart agriculture being communicated in climate-vulnerable communities?
2018-07-05
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Jul 5, 2018 by Renz Louie Celeridad (World Agroforestry Centre)

Farmer-to-farmer communication might be the best way to scale climate-smart agriculture.

During a one-day roving workshop, farmers from My Loi Climate-Smart Village (CSV) in Ha Tinh Province, Vietnam demonstrated several climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices to visiting local leaders, agricultural extension workers, and fellow farmers from Quang Binh Province. The workshop, which was organized on 23 April 2018, allowed the farmers to exchange ideas and, more importantly, relevant knowledge and practices, among themselves to help one another in combating climate change. My Loi CSV is a part of the CSV initiative in the country funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and managed by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Vietnam.

The workshop was a day full of learning for the visitors. For the farmers of My Loi, it was a perfect opportunity to showcase the benefits of CSA not only to the visitors from Quang Binh but also to the global agricultural sector. My Loi farmers showed how to establish diversified home gardens and agroforestry systems, utilizing agricultural resources, and building a simple meteorological station that generates more accurate weather forecasts and agro-advisories, among others. These practices garnered enough interest among the visitors that they invited My Loi farmers to their districts to conduct training sessions.

Amongst the knowledge-sharing activities and demonstrations, one significant lesson stood out: face-to-face communication, specifcally farmer-to-farmer, is arguably the best way to communicate agricultural practices that can be adopted to help farmers become resilient to climate change.   

Diversifying planting systems, utilizing available resources

Diverse home gardens and agroforestry systems, achieved by intercropping various crops and trees, are considered more resilient to climate change. As explained by Food Start+ staff Le Thi Hang, “…My Loi farmers plant multiple crops and trees on the same unit of land, producing diversified products and reducing risks of losing all products at once when something happens…”

At first, producing diversified products might indicate more agricultural resources will be needed. Utilizing available resources is then crucial. The visitors learned how to turn agricultural wastes such as livestock manure and crop stems and leaves into home-made compost. Phan Van Ly, an extension worker from the Quang Trach District of Quang Binh, observed that this would help the farmers cut down the amount of waste and, eventually, save more money for their future. Recycling agricultural wastes into home-made compost will also reduce the farmers’ use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

In relation to producing chemical-free compost, vermiculture is another practice that farmers can adopt. It involves producing nutrient-rich compost materials from organic residues using earthworms. Afterwards, the earthworms can then be fed to fish or poultry.

If sustained, these practices will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The best form of communication

CSA practices are proven to be effective and efficient means of adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change. The challenge now for its advocates is to communicate CSA to more farming communities and encourage them to adopt it. Media-based materials, infrastructures, and campaigns might help in spreading the word about CSA to a wider audience, but as shown during the workshop, it might be best to gather farmers together in one place and let them learn from one another. Media, in this case, serves as a complementary form of communication.

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