Strengthening Young Farmers: from Local Actions to Global Impacts
14 – 18 December 2018, Vientiane, Lao PDR
In the collaboration with Participatory Development Training Centre (PADETC), Rural Development Agency (RDA), and College of Natural Resources in Bhutan, a group of Young Organic Farmers from Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam participated in the 6th anniversary of Sombath Somphone’s Disappearance and PADETC Fair to present and exchange the best practices and learning experiences of PADETC and development partners under the theme of “Promoting Ecological Sustainability: Towards a more livable Laos for All”, including a range of works, showcases and best practices associated with organic agriculture, healthy living, and ecological sustainability from local organization and local community from Lao society.
Exposure Trip, Vientiane, Laos
The group of 10 young farmers from Lao PDR and 8 International participants explored good practice models on social enterprises and organic farming In Vientiane. The models and enterprises are:
Dakdae, Social Enterprise Shop: A shop selling Laos products, working on branding and packaging for local products, and exporting Tea and other local products to a wider market. The young entrepreneur group works on developing, processing, branding and packaging with the producers. In case the producers don’t want to do branding, they will buy raw material and do their own branding and packaging. The tips for young social entrepreneurs are: first one is finding your niche that you want to promote such as organic to promote your own shop. Second is finding the demand and who is your target group. For example, Dakdae focuses on the residence in Laos and provide the products based on customers need.
Panyanivej Farm: Our goal for this farm is exploring an organic farming model in Vientiane contexts for self-sufficiency. We produce organic vegetable and work with schools; we also supply organic vegetable to schools. We grow rice 1 time / year and we depend on the rainwater. We have a very big fishpond; this is the only container for collect water. So we have water all year round and we use it for vegetable garden. The garden is not very big that’s why we have sufficient water for the whole year. For rice yield, we got 290 kg / 1,600 square meters, in Lao the average yield is 3-4 tons / hectare and in our area we have lower yield. However, this is organic rice.
Our goal or our success is we have the system function and run by ourselves as much as possible. We feel satisfied with the progress we have achieved these past 4 years with our management system and the team improvement.
Saoban, Village Handicrafts from the Heart of Laos: To address the economy sufficiency, economy, culture, environment, and agriculture so we need to address the economic problem. We set this up and we registered it as social enterprise. But we have problems about approaching the products. They have to be socially fair to the producers. So, we actually, as a social enterprise, make sure that the producers produce quality products. Everything that comes through here needs to be checked – quality control. People, who come and buy this, want quality products. The biggest problem right now is because they cut the forest and they give land concession, they contaminate the water, so it is very difficult now. Very few people raise silk now. Once the land and the air are polluted, the silk is very delicate and sensitive. There is also chemical spray. So, now we don’t have enough silk. Another difficulty is young people do not want to learn. They want to come to the city. They give up even though we have done studies and found out that women earn more than men working in the city.
As a social enterprise we have to make profits. Every year we also put some of the benefits back to the community for education, water for plantation, and now my villagers are quite ok
Another day, the excursion trip, the group of young organic farmers had a discussion, including site visit, with Vansy Phathammavong on integrated farming (Mr. Vansy has been practicing integrated farming for more than 40 years learning from the forest and Fukuoka- a Japanese farmer and philosopher celebrated for his natural farming and re-vegetation of decertified lands.)
On the next day the group learned from Dr. Sonam Tashi about The Four Principle of Organic Farming and The Heart of Organic farming Production.
On the next day the group learned from Dr. Sonam Tashi about The Four Principle of Organic Farming and The Heart of Organic farming Production
Soil: Soil is the heart of organic farming. Soil fertility can be subdivided into nutrient availability for plant uptake, the soil’s nutrient-holding capacity, and the balances among plant-available nutrients. There are several ways to maintain the soil such as adding organic materials, crop rotation, intercropping, and multiple cropping. Plant protection: There are 3 things pets, diseases and weeds that we need to know. Some techniques for this are tillage and cover cropping (to sub-press the weeds). Irrigation: Plants needs water like human being, if the water is inadequate their performance will be like human being will be, and in drought condition plant will be sick or stress and it can be attack by pets and disease like human being.
The last 2 days, the group shared about their experience on farming. Each person presented and discussed about their works for young farmers in Laos.
- Maetha Organic Seeds by Mathana Aphaimool
- Bhutan Young Farmers by Tshering Dem
- Tsirang Organic Seeds by Dilip Kumar Subba
- Myanmar- Green Youth Network by Tun Aung
- Young Entrepreneur in Cambodia, Takihiro Chea
- Hana group in Vietnam by Hoang Anh
On the topic of Strengthening Young Farmers from Local Action to Global Impact, the group split into 5 small groups to share and discuss on Local Issues, Local Actions and Global Impact. The purpose of this activity was to create an understanding of the purpose and value of farming, as well as, an Insight towards the connection of farming and global transformation.