Heading into the recent Vietnam GHG Emissions Reduction Pilot Phase I kickoff workshop, the Secretariat was filled with nervous excitement. Due to the quick turnaround between when we accepted prize contest implementers in May to when the first cropping season of Phase I began in June, we knew that implementers would face challenges in managing their testing sites. However, from the moment we entered the room in which the Phase I kickoff workshop took place, our fears disappeared. The immediate enthusiasm from implementers and their technology packages was astounding. Each was more eager than the last to present their technology to us (despite some language barrier challenges!).
Adding to the positive atmosphere was the obvious passion of government partners for the Pilot. The partners, including the Crop Production Department (CPD) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Thai Binh Agriculture Extension Center (AEC), have been with us every step of the way since the February launch. For example, when Pilot Manager SNV needed additional resources to monitor Phase I test sites, AEC quickly assigned a capable extension agent to each of the 11 sites, nine of which are women.
A critical part of the success of the kickoff workshop was due to the presence of our Advisory Council members, who provide expert feedback and consultation on all aspects of the Pilot. Drs. Vo Tong Xuan and Nguyen Van Sanh are globally-recognized rice experts, and their very presence at the event and field visits caused some stakeholders to act as if they were meeting major celebrities. Local representatives from donor governments Australia and Canada continue to lend their support. Finally, Joe Rudek of Environmental Defense Fund traveled from the USA on his own time to review GHG sampling methods and provide expert guidance to our verification team to strengthen its measurement protocols.
The Secretariat left Vietnam on August 26th feeling quite confident about the direction of the Pilot so far. Regardless of the individual outcomes, it is clear that something special is underway because of AgResults initiative in Vietnam. We cannot wait to see the impact on GHG emissions and yields that these new technologies have in the testing phase, but we are even more eager to witness the overall impact on the Thai Binh province in Phase II, when implementers must figure out how to scale these technologies to smallholder farmers. Stay tuned!