THE Business-Minded NGO

Agroecology learning cycle: beyond the training, it’s a collaborating and sharing experience

End of September, an agroecological learning cycle has been organized by Agrisud in Sa Pa (northern Vietnam) as part of the IDEAS project*. The main goal is to support the project’s agricultural technicians in improving their practices. This enhancement directly benefits farmers they supervise daily.

Claire Kieffer, who oversees Agrisud activities in Vietnam, tells us the course of this cycle and the resulting benefits:

“Fifteen technicians and coordinators from Sa Pa Agricultural Office and Ranger stations benefited from this training cycle. During 4 days they had the opportunity to discuss the issues and difficulties encountered in their activities in support of development in villages.
Many of them recognize that they used to do not take into account all the factors that interact with farms. Focused on the technical feasibility and environmental impact of the activities, they neglected to consider and study the economic and social dimensions.

A very relevant example was given by one of the participants, it was about the installation of a diversification activity for market gardening.
The conditions of the natural environment (climate, type of soil, relief) had then carefully been studied in order to select
vegetables crops adapted to the area, and the support of the villagers to get involved in the activity had been obtained. But at harvest time, they were unable to find commercial opportunities, which are necessary to sale products.That way, they loosed at once the motivation and confidence of the farmers in these villages.

More than a technical training, the learning cycle in Agroecology is a time for sharing experiences and thoughts on the method.
In the course of the discussions and group exercises, participants identified areas for improvement in their ways of identifying problems, developing projects (which was often done unilaterally with little consultation of the populations concerned), and to implement agricultural development activities.

The main message participants retained was knowing how to replace human – the farmer – at the center of analysis and decisions in order to act in a more efficient and sustainable way.”

*IDEAS (Income Development for Ethnic minorities based on Agriculture Sustainability): this project is implemented in partnership with the Hoang Lien National Park Office, the Lao Caï Province and the Nouvelle Aquitaine Region. It aims to support the establishment of sustainable agricultural sectors to improve the income of ethnic minorities living in and around the National Park.