Toward Regenerative Agriculture

9:59:16 AM | 9/19/2022

Regenerative agriculture is engaged by farmers, businesses and researchers, aiming to reduce costs, increase productivity, quality and profitability on the one hand and deliver enormous values like diminishing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and conserving and restoring agricultural land and ecosystems.

 Vietnam is an agricultural country while agriculture is a huge source of emissions. Agricultural emissions are largely generated in cultivation, animal husbandry, land management and fertilizer use. Emissions include CO2 and CH4 gases.  According to statistics, each year, agricultural production in Vietnam emits about 80 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the environment, accounting for over 30% of total CO2 emissions in the country. Of the amount, nearly 70% come from cultivation.

At the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26), Vietnam and nearly 150 countries pledged to bring net emissions to zero by mid-century and, together with more than 100 countries, to reduce global methane (CH4) emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to 2010.

According to Vietnam's COP 26 commitments to bring net emissions to zero by 2050, Vietnam will have to spend about 6.8% of its GDP or US$368 billion. This huge amount of capital requires joint actions of the government and businesses.

To bring down greenhouse gas emissions, it is necessary to closely link the transition to ecological agriculture, low carbon, circular economy, digital transformation, modern countryside and civilized farmers. Tens of thousands of farming households in the Central Highlands switching to regenerative agriculture, with clear effects, showed how the matter is solved to realize commitments.

Mr. Hoang Van Son, a coffee farmer in Ea Ktur commune, Cu Kuin district (Dak Lak province), said, regenerative agriculture is greatly fruitful. “When switching to regenerative agriculture, we no longer use herbicides but grass, branches and leaves are spread into the soil to create humus to fertilize the soil. While using high-quality, resistant seedlings, the amount of water and chemical fertilizers is considerably reduced. Using traditional cultivation methods, each coffee tree could yield only about 2kg of seeds a season but it now bears 3-4kg, intercropped with pepper and avocado. As a result, the income rises from VND100 million to VND190 million per hectare,” he said.

Mr. Nguyen Huu Thong, agricultural officer of Nestle Vietnam Company, said NesCafé Plan has supported 21,000 farmers in Central Highlands provinces to improve the way coffee trees are grown and cared for towards regenerative agriculture. Specifically, farmers are instructed to measure soil pH (potential of hydrogen) to have appropriate fertilization, detect pests and diseases, and advise on best plant protection measures. After 12 years of implementation, more than 21,000 farmers are globally certified 4C for sustainable production. Farmers save 40-60% on the water on the farm and 20% on fertilizer.

In addition, to improve coffee bean quality, the project cooperates with experts from the Central Highlands Agricultural Institute to support the replanting of coffee trees by producing 63 million seedlings. Plant varieties have increased resistance to water deficiency. In the first stage, farmers who buy seedlings are supported with 50% of the cost, followed by a direct discount of VND1,000 per tree.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Tieu Oanh, Head of Industrial Crops Department, the Western Highlands Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (WASI), said, according to the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy for the 2021-2030 period, with a vision to 2050, Vietnam will reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030. For the crop sector, the two most effective solutions are water management and advanced farming technique application. To implement this plan, it is necessary to mobilize all resources and economic sectors for development, especially from the private sector. The government prioritizes State budgetary resources, calls for international support and mobilizes private and social resources.

Ms. Nguyen Quynh Nga, Deputy Director of the Office for Business Sustainable Development under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said that VCCI will boost the popularity of this model and expand to other agricultural sectors. Combined with other initiatives on sustainable development, it will help bring about green agriculture and make an important contribution to realizing COP 26 commitments.

Giang Tu (Vietnam Business Forum)