Australia Supports Improving Farmers and Ethnic Minority Women Lives in Northwest Vietnam

The Australian Embassy delegation in Vietnam visited Northwest Vietnam from December 12th to 14th, 2021, to meet with local farmers and businesses who are benefiting from projects funded by Australia.

The visit, led by Mark Tattersall, Australian Deputy Head of Mission to Vietnam, was an opportunity to witness first-hand the improved livelihoods and economic opportunities that the projects are creating for local farmers, cooperatives and small businesses in the region, including ethnic minority women.

The visit also reaffirmed Australia's commitment to economic development in the North West provinces as part of its long-term aid partnership with Vietnam, which includes the Promotion of Gender Equality through Agriculture Project, the Aus4innovation program, and the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Mark Tattersall, Australian Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam, met with farmers.

Since 1993, ACIAR has invested approximately 32 million AUD through 20 international collaborative research projects in the Northwest region to develop sustainable sloped systems, helping to diversify agricultural products, protect natural resources and the environment, and increase income for smallholder farmers.

During this visit, the delegation met with farmers and agricultural and extension officers from Son La, Yen Bai, and Dien Bien provinces who participated in a 10-year project funded by ACIAR and the International Agroforestry Research Organization (ICRAF) to develop market-oriented agroforestry systems in the Northwest. Up to now, 425 small-scale farming households have participated in the project and successfully developed agroforestry systems that increase incomes, while protecting soil quality and the environment.

GREAT project is Australia's largest development investment program in Vietnam, with a total value of more than 32 million AUD. The project is working with businesses, NGOs and government agencies to build inclusive business and market development systems in the agricultural and tourism sectors in Son La and Lao Cai provinces. The objective of the project is to ensure that local women and ethnic minorities actively participate in and profit from economic growth and business activity.

The delegation also visited GREAT project's partners including Xuan Nha Organic Bamboo Co-operative in Xuan Nha Commune, Van Ho Province, and a meeting with local women who are homestay owners in Ban Vat, Moc Chau District.

The Delegation listened to strategies to link-local women-owned production facilities, community-based tourism groups, and the high-value market system in Moc Chau. Despite the effects of Covid 19, the project has achieved positive results, including 2,803 women with new jobs, 14,833 women joining the business network, and $8.5 million AUD is invested by private businesses in the project.

The visit reaffirms Australia's commitment to economic development in the Northwest provinces.

The Deputy Ambassador, along with local farmers and businesses, also participated in a field visit organized by the Aus4Innovation program, to CoolBot - an innovative and affordable cool storage technology that helps maintain the quality of post-harvest vegetables. This investment is based on what both ACIAR and GREAT projects have already done, at the same time adding in cutting-edge technology to help farmers access markets and increase their income.

Eight cold storage units and two refrigerated trucks have already been delivered to local co-ops. According to preliminary findings, cold storage and transportation may reduce vegetable loss by 50% to 25%; enhance the storage time for tomatoes and cabbage from 5 to 21 days, and the economic value to the user can increase by 10% to 30%.

During a meeting with the People's Committee of Son La province, the Deputy Ambassador noted the close partnership between Australia and Son La. He discussed Australian investment in the province, and looked for opportunities to further strengthen the relationship between the two parties.

Mark Tattersall, Australian Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam worked with the People's Committee in Son La province.

The Deputy Ambassador said: “The partnership between Australia and the Northwestern provinces of Vietnam is meaningful and long-term relations, in aspects such as long-term development programs, strong links between people, as well as Australia's substantial investment in vital mineral resources to the clean energy transition. Australia will continue to strengthen these relationships, including mapping out a common road map towards post-Covid-19 recovery and delivering on Australia and Vietnam's shared commitment to zero emissions by 2050."