On August 25, the AgResults Vietnam GHG Emissions Reduction Challenge Project held its official closeout event to recognize how the four-year Pay-for-Results prize competition used incentives to connect rice companies with smallholder farmers and strengthen the rice value chain. Since 2017, the project tackled the dual goals of increasing rice yields while reducing GHG emissions, improving the technologies and agricultural practices accessible to rice farmers in Thai Binh Province.
The closeout event, which was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, brought together government and private sector stakeholders to recognize the project’s accomplishments and look to the future of sustainable low-carbon farming practices. The event featured a range of perspectives, from AgResults donors to Project Manager SNV Vietnam to Thai Binh government officials and culminated with the announcement of the grand prizes.
The event began with welcoming remarks from SNV Vietnam Country Director Mr. Peter Loach. After these introductory remarks, Mr. Tristan Armstrong, who serves as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) representative on the AgResults Steering Committee, reflected on how the Vietnam prize competition has encouraged farmers to improve their agronomic practices. He spoke about how the Pay-for-Results model has incentivized companies to develop, test, and scale technology packages for rice farmers to increase productivity and sustainability.
“In Thai Binh, the prize competition encouraged private sector actors to compete by motivating them to develop, test, and scale technology packages and agricultural best practices among smallholder farmers,” said Mr. Armstrong. “The donor community is very excited to see the continued impact of this competition on future activities targeting climate-smart agriculture and resilience.”
Following this, a series of presentations explored facets of the project: Dr. Tran Thu Ha, SNV Vietnam Team Leader, summarized the project’s achievements over four years of implementation.
“In addition to delivering triple wins that benefits all actors in the rice value chain including smallholder farmers, the project achieved three key pillars for sustainability beyond the competition’s timeline,” said Dr. Tran. “It contributed to policy reform for the Rice-Restructuring Plan and Crop Production Strategy for 2020-2025 with vision to 2030 and the NDC; proved the roles and readiness of the private sector for technology innovation and scale up in the rice value chain; and opened up opportunities for green credit and carbon financing, which will catalyze both businesses and farmers to enthusiastically implement low-carbon farming technologies.”
Mr. William Salas, representing AgResults Verifier AGS, shared information about the verification and prize award calculation. External Evaluator Abt Associates then presented evaluation findings from their independent analysis. Justin Kosoris from the AgResults Secretariat wrapped up this portion by sharing lessons learned and broader observations about the prize competition.
“We observed that the private sector pay-for-results prize mechanism worked extremely well as a model to incentivize scaling,” said Mr. Kosoris. “Competitors saw it as a motivating factor that compelled them to adjust their business models to promote sustainable rice farming technologies to a greater number of SHFs than before.”
Then Project Manager SNV and senior leaders from Thai Binh People’s Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture announced the grand prizes. Thai Binh Seed, An Dinh, and FARI Seed were recognized for their accomplishments to reduce GHG emissions and increase rice yields. In total, the project’s competitors engaged 47,762 smallholder rice farmers from 82 agricultural co-ops on 4,937 hectares. Compared to conventional cultivation methods, the competition’s four technology packages reduced GHG emissions by 0.5 tons/hectare and increased yields by an average of 0.2 tons/hectare.
To end the event, key central and provincial government officials shared closing remarks on the project’s impacts and reiterated their commitments for the future of low-carbon agriculture in Vietnam.
“On behalf of Thai Binh Provincial People’s Committee, I’d like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation,” said Chairman Mr. Nguyen Khac Than of the Thai Binh Provincial People’s Committee. “On this occasion, I command the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Thai Binh, the competitors, and the localities to continue to implement the advanced technologies tested by the project in the coming rice crops for sustainable economic development and social security contribution. I also command that the public media promote the scientific-proven technologies to the communist Party Leadership, local authorities, and farmers.”
Mr. Nguyen Nhu Cuong, General Director of the Crop Production Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, emphasized the need for Vietnam-led activities going forward.
“Our responsibility is to work with localities, businesses, and international partners to develop solutions and policies for scaling,” said Mr. Nguyen. “We will promote the linkage between businesses and agricultural cooperatives in rice production to ensure the effective implementation of crop production restructuring objectives to combat serious climate change impacts.”
The Vietnam GHG Emissions Reduction Challenge Project is part of AgResults, a $152 million collaborative initiative between the governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Bank Group that uses prize competitions to incentivize the private sector to overcome market barriers and create lasting change. Under AgResults’ Pay-for-Results model, these competitions encourage actors to achieve predetermined results thresholds and qualify for monetary prizes.
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