Farming communities and media practitioners in Vietnam share their experiences on climate-smart agriculture with visiting rural broadcasters from the Philippines.

Rural communities in Southeast Asia largely depend on the climate; however climate change is posing a number of challenges to their productivity, livelihoods and food security. Communities could better adapt to the negative impacts of climate change, if they are provided with the information necessary to address the issues.

Rural broadcasters, who serve as information conduits to farmers, therefore have an important role in raising awareness and understanding regarding climate change and climate-smart agriculture (CSA). The Food and Agriculture Organization defines CSA based on the three pillars of improved food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation.

A team of seven rural broadcasters from the Philippines visited communities and demonstration sites of different CSA practices and technologies in Vietnam from 27 March to 3 April 2017. Aside from learning about the best practices in CSA in Vietnam, the Filipino broadcasters would be interacting with farming communities, thus giving the broadcasters a broader perspective of CSA.

One of the highlights of their trip was the visit to the Ma Climate-Smart Village (CSV) in Yen Bai province of Vietnam. One of the six CSVs under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Southeast Asia (CCAFS SEA), Ma CSV is a testing center for different CSA practices and technologies that could also be implemented in other areas. Some of the practices showcased in the village are vermiculture and composting, living bed technology and advanced livestock management practices, and the loud speakers which service as the village information system.

A demonstration of the vermiculture in Ma CSV during an interview with the media. This is just one of the many climate-smart  practices showcased in the CSV. Photo: B. Joven (CCAFS)

In Soc Son district, the group heard from the farmers and management board of the Thanh Xuan Organic Vegetable Farmers’ Cooperative how they switched to organic vegetable farming, which has increased their incomes by more than seven to eight times, compared to their previous practice of rice production. Other demonstration sites the group visited included the fish pond and livestock system in Soc Son, the lychee/longan model in Bac Ninh and the CSA models of Cuu Long Rice Research Institute in southern Vietnam.

I am very impressed by what I see in this village about how people are adopting technology that is related to improving their income… and taking care of the environment. It is almost the same thing… Quite a lot of parallels, likeness between the situation in Vietnam and the Philippines," PFRB Chairman Mr Louie Tabing commented during an interview with the local press.

The Filipino group also had the opportunity to exchange experiences on broadcasting climate change and related issues with Vietnamese media practitioners. It is hoped that this trip would help broadcasters better amplify their learning on CSA and CSV concepts among their audiences.

Cross-learning events have proven to be effective in sharing information on CSA practices and technologies, especially among CSVs in Southeast Asia. CCAFS SEA has supported a number of roving workshops and cross-visits with selected farmers and local government officials from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines.

During the briefing before the tour of Ma CSV in Vietnam. Such cross-learning events have proven to be effective in scaling up CSA in Southeast Asia. Photo: B. Joven (CCAFS)

This educational trip was an incentive for the outstanding broadcasters who participated in a CSA information campaign in the Philippines. The three broadcasters who were awarded during the trip were Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Division Chief Dr Kadiguia Abdullah of DXMS (Cotobato, southern Philippines); Ms Gloria Parong of DZWM (La Union, northern Philippines), Aksyon Radio and DZNL; and Ms Ronald Omang of DYVL (Tacloban, central Philippines). PFRB Chairman Tabing, PFRB President Mr Rogelio Matalang, campaign manager Ms Cherrie Lyn Masicat, and Ms Salembai Abdullah of DXMS Cotobato City also joined the field trip in Vietnam.

The said campaign was held across the country in 2016 by the Philippine Federation of Rural Broadcasters, and was supported by CCAFS SEA. A set of 156 ready-to-air interviews and 165 scripts in five local languages in the Philippines were distributed to 153 rural broadcasters. At least 63 radio stations used the prepared materials, which reached about two million listeners (estimated based on radio station listenership).

According to Dr Leocadio Sebastian, regional program leader of CCAFS SEA, this climate information campaign would continue in the Philippines. In the future, they will pick another batch of outstanding climate-smart broadcasters who would have the opportunity to go on a similar educational trip. All these activities seek to improve communication of climate change to rural communities.

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Amy Cruz is a junior communications specialist for the World Agroforestry Centre Philippines and communication consultant with the CCAFS SEA program.