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Workshop-seminar "Making better use of local feed resources" January, 2000. SAREC-UAF
This paper provides a brief summary of progress in animal production in Vietnam made with assistance of many scientists and particularly the SIDA/SAREC program. The importance of utilizing local resources efficiently, including feeds and animals and their integration with the socio-economic situation and climate in Vietnam has been stressed. Much remains to be done particularly in the field of human resource development of which this seminar is a valuable contribution.
As a result of a series of incentive policies some changes come about in the development of animal production in Vietnam. The number of livestock and poultry have increased continuously and the quality is also improving gradually. Parallel with the development of the smallholder farms a number of middle-size private farms have been developed with large number of animals. The large scale animal production has developed largely in peri-urban areas and fills an important part of the consumer demand in the big cities.
Animal production is work for millions of farmers and mainly smallholders. The most general character of them is poverty and low education. They have a strong vitality to survive in difficult conditions. But due to shortage of capital it is sometimes difficult for them to accept new technologies. Normally in a household farm, there are only 1-2 cattle or buffaloes, two to three pigs and a dozen of chickens or ducks. They run a mixed farming operation and keep multi-species of livestock in their farms. They are multi-purpose livestock. In Vietnam the women and children have an important role in agriculture especially in animal husbandry due to it links with work in the home. The development of animal production in rural areas has created many jobs and from that has come more income for the farmers. According to the national statistics the animal production occupies only about 20 % of the total GDP of agriculture, but its role in the household economy is much more than that.
Our farmers (except in the Mekong and the Red River deltas) do not usually send crops directly (paddy, cassava, sweet potato etc...) to the market but use the surplus crops as animal feed to produce animal product to gain more money. The different expenses of life: food (a part), clothes, educational fee for children, medicine, weddings, funerals .... almost all of them come from the income from animal husbandry.
After the economic renovation there is a contradiction between the subsistence and market system economy. To meet the increased demand of the population, especially in the big cities we have to produce more. But with a huge population in the countryside (nearly 80% of the total population of Vietnam), more than that three fourths of our territory is mountainous, we have no choice but to develop as much as possible the traditional feeding systems.
Let us have a look at the picture of animal production in South East Asia during the recent two years. We can see a collapse of the broiler chicken industry and after that the pig production and beef production feedlot also suffered. The main reason for the collapse of the industrial feeding system was its dependence on the importation of grain (or compound feed) from outside. In the normal situation the producer can earn a lot of money by using low-price imported feed, but it is vulnerable to any economic instability. The effect of the regional crisis was also felt in Vietnam in the field of animal production. There were negative effects on the broiler chicken industry and to a lesser extent on the pig production. Fortunately, our animal production is still based on household farms and therefore the effect of the crisis has been limited.
The lesson from the crisis in still fresh, and should remind us to consider again the right policy for the development of animal production, so as to avoid the failure experienced in other countries. One urgent problem is how to take advantage of the tropical ecosystems to develop our livestock industry. We have to exploit every possibility of the eco-agriculture of our country to develop the animal production but not based on industrial feeding systems.
First of all the abundant amount of solar energy.
A huge volume of water resources
A big diversity of crop species it can be green all the year.
A huge volume of crop by-products
A rich bio-diversity, including different indigenous breeds adapted to the agro-ecological zones and easy to manage.
Due to the warm climate, the investment in animal housing is considerably lower.
Certainly, tropical agriculture also has its negative factors and one of them is the natural disasters (such as floods and storms) but this will not be discussed in this paper.
There is no doubt that the only choice for development of the agriculture and animal production is to establish a sustainable animal production system based on exploiting local resources, based on the capacity of the small farmers and on the characteristics of the natural and economic situation. This is a long term of development, a problem with strategic meaning.
The objectives followed by the SIDA/SAREC project are correct and they respond to the urgent demand of our agriculture:
Under the supervision of many well-known scientists and consultants from the Swedish Agricultural University in Uppsala and the NGO "CIPAV" in Colombia, much creative work has been done by our scientists and good results have been achieved. It can be seen also in the training program for MSc and Ph.D degrees in which a dozen of our students have graduated. It is also expressed in the development of farming systems models in different zones:
Using sugarcane juice as pig feed in Northern mountainous areas.
Ensiling cassava root and groundnut leaves in Thua Thien - Hue
Using multipurpose tree Trichanthera gigantea for pig and other livestock
Using ensiled shrimp head as protein sources for pig and poultry in central coastal areas.
Duckweed - a high-protein water plant for poultry in central coastal and Mekong Delta and Hue.
Improvement of the soil fertility through mulching the crop by returning the dead sugarcane leaves to the soil.
Milking goats fed diets based on sugarcane tops with legume forages and cassava root and rice bran.
Low cost plastic biodigesters in smalholders farms. This technology has been stretched óver the whole country but the results seem to be much better in peri-urban areas of Ho Chi Minh City.
The dissemination of knowledge has also been emphased by the project. A series of seminar-workshops consisting not only of the scientists and extensionists but also farmers from the country. Papers based on the proceedings of these seminars have been published by different international journals in particular “Livestock Research for Rural Development”. Based on the achievement of the project the cooperation between the Vietnamese scientists and those from the neighboring countries in the region was established and developed in the field of livestock research.
The most important objective of agricultural research is to use the results in practice, so it can be accepted by farmers. For successful extension the following factors should be considered:
Selecting the target: Is the selected technology fitted to the benefit of the farmers, especially the small farmers? The experiments carried out by the SAREC-SIDA project conform to these criteria, which aims at improving the income of the small farmers.
Character of sustainability: If the research can mobilize the local available resources (feed, indigenous breed, labour) and from that to increase the productivity parallel with keeping the environment healthy
Livestock as an integrated part of rural development: We recognize doing research for smallholders, that we try as much as possible to make livestock adapted to local feed resources and not in changing feed and environment (eg: use of compound feed) to match the animals. The selected technology should fit to the farmers condition with low input and in harmony with the management capacity of the farmers.
Integrating the new technology with social factors. Not every technology can be applied in practice, because to solve a problem in production it needs to be in harmony with a series of socio-eco-technological factors. Every technology has its appropriate niche. Sugarcane juice for fattening pigs is a success in mountainous areas where there is no sugar factory and the market is far away, and where there is a habit to eat fatter pork. Azola was very popular in Vietnam but in the new situation (winter crops, new fertilizers...) it is no longer accepted by farmers.
Establishing demonstration sites is an appropriate tool for technology transfer. The Training Center for Sustainable Livestock–based Farming System in Bavi is an excellent example. In this Center a series of new technologies on sustainable livestock - based farming system has been created by scientific experiments and from the involvement of surrounding farmers. This Center has become a farmers training center, and a center not only for farmers but also for local authorities. This Center is also a place for International cooperation where we have received hundred of delegations and also trainees from foreign countries (mainly from Europe)
promoting research for smallholders to develop the sustainable farming systems,
we have to emphasize the production of more commercial products to meet the
demand of the consumer. The demand of society can be used to improve the life
of the farmers.
It is a great pleasure to acknowledge the contribution of well known scientists for the success of our project in establishing sustainable livestock-based farming systems in Vietnam. We acknowledge the help of Dr T Preston, Dr B Ogle, Dr H Wiktorsson, Dr Inger Ledin, Dr E R Orskov, Dr R Leng, Dr R Sansoucy, Dr F Dolberg, Dr A Speedy and many international friends and colleagues. With their assistance we have learned how to conduct research to solve the real problems for rural development and how to transfer the appropriate technologies to small-scale farmers.
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