Goats, new rice promote Delta resilience

Le Thi Trang, 48, a farmer in Ba Tien 1 Village in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta's Tien Giang Province, dreams of the day her family has a house without a leaky roof.
Trang's dream is now coming true because she is now the owner of a thriving herd of 11 goats.

Farmers harvest rice in the northern province of Thai Binh. Many farmers in the province have climbed out of poverty by growing a new variety of rice that can adapt to climate change impacts. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Ha

"I'll sell one or two male goats when they grow bigger to get money for repairs," she said.

Trang's family has six members. Her husband and son are seasonal builders, her daughter is a secondary-school student, and her daughter-in-law just delivered a baby. The main income comes from her husband and son.

Last April, Trang was listed among the poorest households in the village, so she was given a pregnant goat from a programme to ease poverty.

At first, her husband opposed accepting the goat because it involved his wife going to class to learn how to breed the animals.

"My husband said if I joined the class, who will take care for our field," she said. However, Trang was determined and still went to the class.

"I am fed up with poverty. I want to take the chance, to breed goats, to earn money, to repair my house… and to change my life," she said.

"My husband's attitude changed as the number of goats gradually rose from one goat to four, six and now 11 in a short time," she said.

Her goats are worth about VND32 million (US$1,400), and the amount rises quickly as the animals get older.

In the last two years, Tran Thi Cuc, a poor householder from northern Thai Binh Province's Nam Thinh Commune, has learned how to grow a new type of rice to adapt to climate change. (In Viet Nam, a poor household is defined as one having a monthly income below VND500,000 a month.)

The productivity of the new type of rice is about 150 kilos per 360 sq.m, compared to about 50-60 kilos for the old types of rice.

The new rice is salt tolerant and better adapts to cold weather.

In the first year, Cuc's family made about five times more than in previous years and quickly escaped from poverty.

Trang and Cuc are among 51,000 people living in coastal communes in the provinces of Hai Phong, Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Tra Vinh and Tien Giang, who have benefited from a three-year project funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The overall objective of the project is to increase the resilience of the most vulnerable people, especially women, living in coastal communes affected by climate change by helping to improve their livelihoods.

The project, named Partnership for equitable resilience to the impacts of climate change of the coastal communities in deltas of Viet Nam, was run by Oxfam and the Centre for Marine-life Conservation and Community Development since the middle of 2012.

Nguyen Nhu Lien, head of Thai Binh Province's Agricultural Promotion Centre said the province was severely hit by climate change, threatening its crown as the "rice granary of the North".

In 2007, when the average temperature during winter-spring temperatures were 2.5 degrees Celsius higher than the previous years due to climate change, the total rice yield fell to one tonne per hectare.

In the spring of 2012, prolonged cold weather lasting for 39 days also caused a big loss to the provincial rice yield, he said.

Some households were chosen to plant new types of rice in fields slowly becoming saline due to rising seas.

The province multiplied the model widely after pilot households were so successful with the new types of rice, he said.

Le Kim Dung, associate Country Director of Oxfam in Viet Nam, said that it would also continue working hard to support Viet Nam coping with climate change in the future.


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