The pilot farms, learn simple techniques for a healthy development
The Mekong Plus agronomists live in the villages and first of all they listen to the farmers. We start from the farmers’ questions and problems. They cannot afford big investments nor to take risks, as a failure would be a disaster for the family. Capital is scarce and returns must be quick: in the village context the ROI, the return on investment must be 100%. The environment and soil protection and improvement are very important for sustainable, profitable agriculture: farmers are very receptive when we can reduce the use of chemicals and reduce costs.
The best trainers are in fact fellow-farmers, who share with their peers, better than a technician from outside the village! With this in mind Mekong Plus uses the pilot farmers as models and trainers. First we help them to test new techniques, then they teach and advise other villagers. Small farm meetings are organized at the request of the villagers, usually 10-20 farmers gather around the pilot farmer. Concrete exchanges, very practical, the farmers argue and are not intimidated as they can be with an agronomist with a university degree.
Best Agriculture Practices
When you have a small plot only to feed your family, you try to get the best out of it! Often the peasants tend to put too much pesticide and fertilizer, as they think “more is better and safer”. Mekong Plus proposes a better and cheaper option: a net. The vegetables are well protected from insects and also from the heavy rains of the monsoon. Farmers can then grow throughout the year, which is not possible in traditional agriculture. Save on chemicals and grow vegetables all year round are the two key arguments to convince the peasants.
New challenges in the face of rising sea levels
The Mekong delta is facing a new challenge: the progressive salinization of water makes the land unsuitable for cultivation. The villagers try to limit the penetration of saline water with sluice gates and pumping, but ultimately they risk to give up paddy cultivation and shift to shrimp culture. Which is another source of heavy pollution. The Mekong delta is one of the worst affected regions in the world and sure enough, the poorest will suffer.