Similar cultures, better understanding. The Learning Route enters Vietnam’s Deep South
|“Solidarity, mutual commitment and innovations were the most important factors that shaped Dan Tien into the successful cooperative that it is today”- Nguyen Van Van, Dan Tien Cooperative director.|
Colorful ethnic Khmer dance welcomes the Cambodian delegates on the streets of Cau Ke, in Vietnam’s charming Tra Vinh Province. This southern province in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta boasts a large Khmer Krom ethnic community, accounting for 30% of its population of one million.
In familiar atmosphere, the cultural barriers quickly dissipated among the participants of our Learning Route. Farmers, community builders and project officers easily found a common language.
The most entertaining and instructive part of the day, however, was a visit to the Dan Tien Cooperative (i.e. “Progressive Farmers”), also in Cau Ke district. Dan Tien started off as a community group with a few members in 2009. It grew quickly, and become a cooperative in 2012. The mostly rice growing and marketing cooperative managed to increase its annual harvest by 42% in the last five years, from 6 – 7 t/ha to 8.5 – 9 t/ha.
Since the beginnings, all cooperative activities work in contract with enterprises. Dan Tien jointly purchases seedlings, organic fertilizers and pesticides with a 10% discount from contracted businesses, and jointly sells clean rice at slightly higher than market price. Apart from rice, the group started experimenting with orange groves as pilot farms.
Learning Route participants from Cambodia taking notes at Dan Tien’s orange plantation.
The next days they are to prepare their specific innovation plans, based on their learning in Vietnam and the opportunities back in Cambodia, combining their own farm and manpower with the smart support of the PADEE Project (MAFF-IFAF)
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By Lam Pham and Gabor Teveli