3.1. Lessons learned from the Vietnam Cassava Program
Vietnam Cassava Program support by MARD in close cooperation with CIAT of the the Nippon Foundation project, promoted the rapid multiplication and wide distribution of high-yielding and high-starch varieties, and the adoption of sustainable cassava production practices, especially in the Central Coast, Central Highlands and Northern mountains and uplands. Ten million stakes of new varieties, mainly KM94, KM98-5 and KM140, were distributed to various provinces in this project. Up to now, year 2007/08, more than 350,000 ha of cassava in Vietnam were planted with new varieties; this corresponds to about 75- 80% of the total cassava area in the country.
Cassava yields and production in several provinces have doubled, stimulated by the construction of new large-scale cassava processing factories. New high-yielding cassava varieties and more sustainable production practices have increased the economic effectiveness of cassava production. Year 2004, example, with the establishment of new processing factories and increases in yield and starch content resulted in increased production of 2,225 thousand tonnes of fresh roots (371.500 ha x 6,07 t/ha= 2.225 tonnes or 578 thousand tonnes of starch; this means that approximately 814 billion VND (51,89 million US$) per year were added to farmers’ income (Table 8).
Many farmers have become rich by growing cassava. In An Vien and Doi 61 communes in Dong Nai province, for example, 97% of the agricultural land has poor gray sandy soil. Previously, farmers grew the old cassava varieties Gon and HL23 with average yields of about 9–12 t/ha. In recent years, by growing new high-yielding varieties and applying improved cultural practices, the average yield in this commune increased up to 16-32 t/ha. Many farmers are now growing varieties KM94, KM140 and KM98-5, obtaining 25-35 t/ha in areas of 3-5 hectares. In the Central provinces of Vietnam, the total variable cost of cultivation in 2007 was about US$ 455- 567.5/ha, at an average root yield of 22.0 t/ha, the production cost would be US$ 20.68- 25.79 /t fresh roots. Gross income is US$ 1,155- 1,237.5 /ha. Net income is US$ 670 - 700/ha. (Hoang Kim, Nguyen Van Ngai, Reinhardt Howeler and Hernan Ceballos, 2008)
Six essential conditions for a successful cassava R&D program include: Materials, Markets, Management, Methods, Manpower and Money (6 Ms). Main experiences in linking cassava R&D activities in Vietnam include: 1) Establishment of the Vietnam Cassava Program (VNCP) including advanced cassava farmers, researchers, extension worker, managers of cassava research and development projects, cassava trade and processing companies, and 2) The establishment of on-farm research and demonstration fields (farmer participation research FPR), and 3) Ten mutual link-up activities (10 T – in Vietnamese):
1. Thu nghiem Trials
2. Trinh dien Demonstrations
3. Tap huan Training
4. Trao doi Exchange
5. Tham vieng Farmer tours
6. Tham quan hoi nghi dau bo Farmer field day
7. Thong tin tuyen truyen Information, propaganda
8. Thi dua Competition
9. Tong ket khen thuong Recognition, praise and reward
10. Thanh lap mang luoi nguoi nong dan gioi Establish good farmers’ network
(Hoang Kim, Pham Van Bien and R.H. Howeler 2003, Reinhardt Howeler, 2004, Hoang Kim 2007, Tran Ngoc Ngoan and R.H. Howeler 2007, Tran Ngoc Ngoan 2008, Reinhardt H. Howeler, 2008, Hoang Kim et al . 2008).