Monday, July 24, 2023

Harnessing multi-stakeholders cooperation to improve rice straw-based value chains in Vietnam

CẦN THƠ, Vietnam (10 July 2023) – To develop value chain upgrading strategies for rice straw-based compost and biodegradable products in Vietnam, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in cooperation with the Crop Production and Plant Protection Sub-department of Cần Thơ City, organized a Stakeholders’ Workshop.

More than 50 participants representing the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) of Cần Thơ, IRRI, farmer organizations, organic fertilizer companies, wholesalers, retailers, and other sectors of the rice value chain attended the event to verify the results of the farmers’ survey and key informant interviews of value chain actors. The event also aimed to elicit feedback on the overall structure of the rice straw-based compost and biodegradable products value chain.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Tran Thai Nghiem, Deputy Director General of DARD Cần Thơ, stressed how the rice straw value chain can be a “key” to building a circular economy of agriculture in Vietnam. He shared that the rice production in Cần Thơ of around 1.3 million tons per year equally produced 1.3 million tons of rice straw. Containing a significant amount of greenhouse gases, he emphasized that developing a circular economy based on rice straw will support the Prime Minister of Vietnam’s commitments in COP26 to reach net-zero emissions in 2050 towards green agriculture.

Ms. Jhoanne Ynion, Associate Scientist for market research at IRRI, and Ms. Tran Thi Cam Nhung, a researcher at IRRI Vietnam, shared the results of the farmers’ survey and key informant interviews. The study shows that the majority of the farmers practice the removal of rice straw in the field and only 28% of the farmers applied other types of organic fertilizer. Based on the survey, most of the farmers collected rice straw for selling (81%) but few of the farmers used rice straw for other purposes, such as farming, mushroom cultivation, composting, mulching, and feeds.

Results also show that the farmers knew the information about the end market for the rice straw value chain from their first buyer or a trader. Moreover, the study also found out that the traders required certain quality standards on the rice straw-based compost they sold.

Ms. Ynion also presented the value chain maps of rice straw, rice straw for mushroom production, and rice straw-based compost fertilizer and organic fertilizer to get feedback from the participants. Mr. Pham Minh Cuong of Toan Phat Cooperative shared that “in the third crop season, we removed rice straw from the field and sold it at the farmer’s gate price of 40.000 VND/1000m2 to generate additional income rather than incorporation or burning.” 

Ms. Luu Thi Kieu Tham, head of Thoi Lai Station of Crop Production and Plant Protection, also added that “most farmers in the Thoi Lai district decide to collect and sell rice straw. There are also two mushroom-growing communes that take advantage of rice straw for mushroom production, after which, the used rice straw is the input material for composting."

As a culminating activity, group discussions were conducted to perform SWOT analyses on the rice straw-based product value chains. The participants were divided into three groups, such as rice farmers and dairy farmers; processors, wholesalers, and retailers; and rice farmers and vegetable farmers.

According to the groups, the strengths of rice straw-based products are the abundant source of rice straw and the rice straw baler service while its weaknesses are labor shortage, lack of linkage for large-scale rice straw collection, and insufficient initial investment. 

The groups also agreed that the related opportunities are the upcoming 1-million hectares of high-quality rice project and the increasing popularity of organic farming practices. However, some threats include competitiveness in terms of nutritional ratio with other organic fertilizers, unstable weather (wet rice straw is difficult to collect), and limited access to up-to-date technology. 

This work is supported by the Federal Government of Germany through the Green Innovation Center Vietnam - Promoting rice straw innovations project, Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund through the Rice straw based circular economy (RiceEco) project, and CGIAR Initiative on Asian Mega-Deltas.


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