Friday, May 3, 2024

USDA, MARD, and IRRI launch Fertilize Right Project to optimize fertilizer use of Vietnamese farmers

The Fertilize Right project is a 4-year, USD 4.4M project that will develop and promote efficient and sustainable uses of fertilizer based on the 4Rs of nutrient management (right source, right rate, right time, right place). The project is a joint collaboration between USDA and MARD, with IRRI as implementing partner, and its activities will include technology development, capacity building, and monitoring and evaluation across 6 pilot provinces.

17 April 2024, HANOI, Vietnam ~ The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) recently launched the Fertilize Right Project, a USD 4.4 million project that aims to improve fertilizer use, boost farmer incomes, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in rice cultivation.

The strengthened US-Vietnam relationship has opened up new opportunities for agricultural cooperation for sustainable development. Vietnam’s robust agricultural exports have increased the country’s role in global food security, with the US as one of its top trade partners.

The Fertilize Right Project was kicked off by a workshop on 9 April in Hanoi. The event was attended by over 80 participants from relevant ministries, international organizations, research institutes, and other stakeholders, including representatives from fertilizer companies and associations. The project will be managed under MARD’s Plant Protection Department, with funding coursed through the Foreign Agricultural Service of the USDA. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) will be the implementing partner.

In his opening message, MARD Vice-Minister Dr. Ho├áng Trung emphasized the project’s importance not just to agricultural development, but in reaching Sustainable Development Goals, specifically on responsible consumption and climate change action. Dr. Trung also emphasized the project’s contribution to the farmers in the project sites, disseminating information and technologies on sustainable, accountable, and clean agriculture that can be scaled out to other rice farming areas.

His Excellency Marc E. Knapper, the US Ambassador to Vietnam, underscored this new agriculture collaboration between US and Vietnam in his special message during the launching ceremony. The Ambassador shared the 4Rs of the Fertilize Right Project, which is “the use of fertilizer from the Right source, applied at the Right rate, at the Right time, and in the Right place.” He stressed that by providing technical support to farmers, the project aims to improve livelihoods, enhance soil health, ensure nutrition security, and foster a green and climate-resilient economy.

In his presentation, USDA Agricultural Development Advisor Dr. Harold Tarver talked about the US Government's call for a worldwide collaboration to enhance fertilizer efficiency and soil health measures as a strategy to address food insecurity. This Fertilize Right initiative involves a dedicated budget of USD 25 million from the United States, aimed at achieving food security and lowering agricultural emissions through advancements in fertilizer efficiency and effectiveness, and in exploring alternatives.

Dr. Tarver shared that the USDA is also implementing this project in three other countries, namely Brazil, Colombia, and Pakistan. By facilitating the exchange of knowledge and experiences from these different countries and diverse ecologies, the project will be able to better enhance the effectiveness of its activities.

Dr. Katie Hickey-Schaub, the International Program Specialist at USDA, highlighted that over the next 4 years, the project will concentrate on 6 pilot provinces in Vietnam, including Hai Duong, Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Can Tho, Dong Thap, and Soc Trang, all within the Red River Delta and Mekong River Delta regions. These provinces were carefully chosen based on their ecological zones, current rice and coffee production capacity, accessibility within the value chain for scaling up the project, and their potential to have a positive impact on farmer livelihoods and incomes.

Dr. Nguyen Van Hung, project leader and senior scientist at IRRI, provided detailed insights into the components of the Fertilize Right project. The project is comprised of three key components, such as on the development of technology and tools aimed at enhancing the efficient use of fertilizer in rice production; capacity building and communication with relevant stakeholders regarding nutrient management practices; and project monitoring and evaluation to ensure the project's effectiveness and impact assessment.

Two panel sessions were conducted during the event. The first session focused on the relevance and potential contribution of the Fertilize Right Project to the national strategy on sustainable agricultural development, while the second discussion revolved around the challenges to the Fertilize Right Project and maximizing the initiative’s impacts in Vietnam.


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