AgResults Donor Visit to Thai Binh Underscores Local Support and Long-term Impact of Prize Competition to Reduce GHG Emissions of Rice Production

October 14, 2019

farmers lined up along the road

On October 1, 2019, the AgResults Steering Committee visited four competition sites of the Vietnam Emissions Reduction Challenge Project (AVERP) in Thai Binh province. The AgResults Delegation (the Delegation) comprised representatives from the initiative’s donor organizations, including USAID, DFID, Global Affairs Canada, DFAT, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the World Bank Trustee. The Project Manager, SNV Vietnam coordinated the trip and facilitated conversations between the delegation and the competing companies (Competitors), district and commune leaders, and rice farmers.

The Delegation met with four private sector Competitors — An Dinh, Thai Binh Seed, Fari-Seed, and Binh Dien Fertilizer — who are participating in the Pay-for-Results prize competition to develop, test, and scale up technologies and tools to reduce GHG emissions in rice production. During the site visits, the Delegation had a chance to speak with communes who have been receiving extension services from the competitors to adopt new practices and technologies. The discussions highlighted the continued dedication among both Competitors and farmers.

“We are honored to participate in AVERP given the Project’s overarching goals are in line with our Corporate Strategies,” said Mr. Tran Manh Bao, CEO of Thai Binh Seed Corporation. “We are definitely scaling our tested technology package in much wider areas in Thai Binh, and hopefully to other parts of Viet Nam for the sustainable development of the rice sector.”

The General Secretary of Dong Long Commune in Tien Hai District reflected on the Project’s impacts: “From the commune governance perspective, we see the positive impact of the project. It helps not only our farmers but also from the management board of the commune, we are changing our ideology to bring this technology into rice cultivation.”

Many rice farmers reflected honestly on the challenges they had experienced as early adopters of the farming technologies but also shared how they soon realized the well-defined agronomic practices could reduce costs.

“We had to be strict when following this technology,” one farmer shared. “That’s what we learned. We had some hesitation to apply these new practices. But we also see now that if we follow this technology, our rice plants are more productive, and we can also help reduce emissions that lead to climate changes that are hard on us.”

“We’re very proud of the work that we’re doing here in Thai Binh,” said Tristan Armstrong, the DFAT representative on the AgResults Steering Committee. “The program demonstrates an innovative way of working with the public and private sectors, and an opportunity to scale out new technologies for both the benefit of farmers and the environment.”

After visiting the rice fields, the AgResults delegation was welcomed by the provincial government, led by the Vice Chairman of the Provincial People’s Committee and representatives from Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Key messages from the Vice Chairman underlined continued support and enthusiasm among local government counterparts for the potential of the prize competition to significantly shape the future of rice farming in the Red River Delta.

“I would like to thank the donors for coming to Thai Binh and choosing this province for the competition,” said Mr. Nguyen Hoang Giang, Vice Chairman of Thai Binh People’s Committee. “With close cooperation with SNV and all the government departments in Thai Binh province, the project has completed Phase 1 successfully. The competing companies have demonstrated their technologies to help change the province’s approach to rice production to increase productivity, provide good solutions for the environment, and increase incomes for farmers.”

Only by maintaining these dialogues will improved rice production practices continue after the competition ends in 2020. But if this week’s visits were any indication, both the international donor community and Thai Binh’s private and public sectors are committed to positioning the province — and country — for long-term success.

The AgResults Vietnam GHG Emissions Reduction Challenge Project (2017 – 2020) is a US$8 million prize competition that aims to develop, test, and scale up innovative technologies, tools, and approaches to increase yields and reduce GHG emissions in rice production. The project uses results-based prize incentives to encourage private competitors to deliver packages and training to smallholder farmers. These new approaches will help lower GHG emissions, protect the environment, and ultimately reduce poverty among smallholder farmers in the Thai Binh province in the Red River Delta. Funded by USAID (US), DFID (UK), DFAT (Australia), GAC (Canada), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, AgResults has designed and implemented prize competitions since 2013 focused on spurring fundamental change in market relationships between the private sector and smallholder farmers.

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