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Less-emission production fuels Vietnam’s sustainable agriculture
Linh Pham 11:17, 2024/02/05
The innovative approach enables Vietnamese farmers to produce high-quality products while contributing to the country’s green growth toward low-carbon pathways.

A three-year project on climate-resilient agricultural production has demonstrated how agriculture businesses and cooperatives can contribute to fast-track the progress of Vietnam's Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) goals.

 E-tracing system applied for Binh Thuan's dragon fruit. Photo: NDC in Agriculture Project  

The project on dragon fruit production in the central province of Binh Thuan and shrimp aquaculture in the southern province of Bac Lieu is a part of the UNDP NDC Support Program with funding from the Governments of Germany, Spain, and the European Union (EU), helps local farmers produce higher quality products for domestic use and export.

The project, entitled “Accelerating Private Sector Engagement in Climate-Resilient and Low-Emission Investment in Implementing Vietnam’s Nationally Determined Contributions for Agriculture Sector” is an innovative approach to embracing green agriculture while adapting to climate change in agriculture production. Its main goal is to transform the supply chains for the two southern provinces into examples of sustainable agriculture to help Vietnam fulfill its NDC.

Ramla Khalidi, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, highlighted the project’s pioneering role in tracking the carbon footprint of Vietnamese agricultural products, adding that the models help adopt circularity principles and leverage finance for scaling up best practices. “This offers the opportunity for climate-responsible and climate-smart agriculture that contributes to sustainable development and the achievement of the global climate goals.”

With the results gained over the past time, the project has fueled the cultivation in Binh Thuan to help the province expand the less-emission area to have more high-quality products for export and laid the foundation for sustainable agriculture in the locality to reinforce the brand "Binh Thuan Dragon Fruit" and apply to other kinds of fruits like apple and durian.    

Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, Director of the International Cooperation Department of MARD said the project showcases Vietnam’s commitment to sustainable development. The transformation in Binh Thuan’s dragon fruit supply chain is about empowering farmers and communities to adopt environmentally friendly practices, securing a better future for all. 

 Farmers in Binh Thuan and the joy of bumper crops thanks to less emission cultivation. Photo: Phan Giang, Dieu Linh

The models that matter to Vietnam’s emission journey

Nguyen Do Anh Tuan stressed that dragon fruit is one of Vietnam’s 14 key fruits in the development plan by 2030 but Vietnamese dragon fruit is threatened by successful cultivation in China, India, and Mexico.

Such models matter a lot to Vietnam following its commitments and targets set for the agriculture sector towards building transparent, responsible, and sustainable food systems at the United Nations 2021 Food Systems Summit; and joining more than 130 countries at COP28 in December 2023 signed the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, committing to integrate food into their climate plans by 2025.

This project has helped create a future where innovative and cooperative efforts would foster the growth of a green economic environment that’s in line with the country’s climate targets, he stated.

According to UNDP, greener technologies for dragon fruit production in the central province of Binh Thuan – the dragon fruit hub of Vietnam, have enabled local agriculture cooperatives and businesses to stay away from traditional weather-based agriculture practices and the misuse of fertilizers and pesticides.

The adoption of LED lighting, drip irrigation, solar-powered drying and processing technology, planting of wood trees around dragon fruit farms, and the expansion of farms certified by Global G.A.P. have all contributed to productivity gains and notable environmental footprint reductions.

In addition, the project taught local farmers creative livestreaming campaigns and assisted in the establishment of e-commerce platforms, opening up new domestic and international markets for them.

A local farmer named Tam, who is also a project beneficiary, shared insights on the economic benefits of these green innovations. “In the past, with the 22W bulb, the electricity cost for lighting 1,000 pillars over 22 nights was around VND18 million (US$1,117). However, with this 9W bulb, illuminating 1,000 pillars for the same duration now only costs one-third. That’s a significant advantage."
Additionally, he said the adoption of the e-tracing system enables farmers to move in an eco-friendly direction for the products permitted in the market and those that benefit the environment. The cost isn’t high, yet it yields effective production,

 Representatives of UNDP Vietnam and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development trace the origin and cultivation process of Binh Thuan's dragon fruit. Photo: UNDP 

 

In a talk with The Hanoi Times, Phan Van Tan, Deputy Director of the Binh Thuan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said Binh Thuan’s dragon fruit has been shipped to more than 20 countries and territories worldwide, including 73.6% to Asian markets: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan (China), the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Qatar, UAE; 18.1% to Canada and the US; and 9.3% to Australia and New Zealand.

Binh Thuan’s dragon fruit was granted a geographical indication in Vietnam in 2006 and has been recognized as a protected geographical indication in the EU since 2020 when the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement entered into force. The “Binh Thuan DRAGON FRUIT” label and image is registered and protected in 13 countries and territories, namely France, Germany, the Netherlands, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan (China), Singapore, the UK, and the US.

Regarding the UNDP-implemented project starting in 2021 in Binh Thuan’s three districts of Bac Binh, Ham Thuan Bac, and Ham Thuan Nam, he said it promoted the engagement of the private sector in investing, supporting, and implementing less-emission production with more climate mitigation and adaptation efforts to contribute to Vietnam’s NDC.

Particularly, the project encourages the growth of dragon fruit chain connections leads to reduced carbon emissions, sustainability, and adaptability to climate hazards, with a focus on green growth and e-commerce; develops the brand of Binh Thuan’s dragon fruit products; boosts digital transformation in production and management; establish green finance mechanisms to invest in advanced technologies that are environmentally friendly and with less emissions.

Phan Van Tan said that the project has benefited about 5,000 locals with incentives given to cooperatives run by women and young people. But the biggest benefit earned from the project is “significant changes in cultivation and awareness of green production and higher quality products to ensure sustainable supply chains.” So far, local exporters have signed contracts to export dragon fruit to Europe and Australia.  

From the outcomes of the project, Binh Thuan will promote the model with a focus on the e-tracing system with e-dairy for other main fruits in the locality like apples and durian. The less-emission cultivation model has enabled the province to expand the production areas to target high-end markets, Tan emphasized.   

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