A Story from a Football Field

Blog by Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung, UNDP Communication Analyst

March 22, 2023
UNDP Viet Nam

If you have a chance to visit the farm of Thi Dieu and Mang Min in Thuan Bac district, in South Viet Nam, what you see will make you think of a football field with a hard and flat ground and little grass. For 3 years, the farmland has been abandoned, cracked and dry due to intense drought. 

There was not enough rain for the corn to grow and produce seed. The whole field had only buds. Crop loss, soil depleted, financial loss. Hunger.

In order to raise 3 kids, Thi Dieu and her husband Mang Min, both Raglai ethnic minority, had to work other jobs. She said: “Since we can’t grow our own crops. It is lucky to get hired to make some money to buy food for my kids and ourselves”. 

All over the Central Highlands and Central Coast regions of Viet Nam, similar stories are not hard to find. In many villages, most people leave their homes early in the morning to work as hired hands on other farms, that are rich and have the resources to keep their land irrigated. They leave behind their own drought ridden farmlands, and their children and parents. 

A burning question is what should be done so that farmers like Thi Dieu and Mang Min can work on their own farmlands, harvesting food and making an income, instead of working low-paid job elsewhere.

An initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development and UN Development Program, with funding from Green Climate Fund, is looking at how to empower vulnerable smallholder farmers – particularly women and ethnic minority farmers – to tackle increasing risks from climate change to agricultural productionThe core pillars of the project include construction and non-construction measures, to help farmers to increase access to water, secure water, adopt climate-resilient agricultural practices, and strengthening access to agro-climate information so they can grow the right crops at the right time.

UNDP Viet Nam

Farmer Field Schools (FFS) and the central roles of women and core farmers

FFS are crucial for resilient agriculture production. Through classes, farmers, together with grassroots extension officers and experts work together, discuss, and analyze farming techniques, and soil quality and crops to find best farming solutions.

"Now I know how to properly compost and re-fertilize the plants using leaves, straw, corn husks, and unwanted branches to save money and enrich the soil." Said Thi Dieu, after attending one FFS class.

Women and farmers who have taken the courses, play a central role in decision making, and disseminating their knowledge to other farmers in their communities.  

I have shared this information with my fellow villagers. Now, all the farmers in our village use this method to maintain moisture on our farms”. Thi Dieu told us when we visited her farm.

UNDP Viet Nam

Agro-climate information

Under this project farmers like Thi Dieu will also receive consolidated information of weather and recommendations from scientists about conditions such as, moisture and soil level, what should be added or reduced in cultivation, what crops should be reduced or increased, or intercropped and how to diversify crops, leading to higher incomes.

The project aims to help about 22,200 smallholder households like Thi Dieu and Mang Min to support them in working on their own farms, instead of being forced to take low-paid job elsewhere.

In order to find more information about the project, click here to read more. 

UNDP Viet Nam
UNDP Viet Nam