New rice variety improving lives
Posted on 20/07/2021
Buot is a village located in the remote mountainous area of Chieng Yen Commune, Van Ho District in Vietnam’s Son La Province. The Village is home to Thai, Muong and Dao ethnic groups.
More than 90 per cent of the villagers earn their livelihood from agriculture. However, they struggle to make enough income from their produce and often migrate to cities to work as hired labour. Women have the triple burden of looking after the household, being the primary caregiver and working in the field. Specialty rice presents an opportunity for women and their households to substantially increase their income.
In 2019, the Australian Government-funded Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) Project in partnership with the the Agriculture and Forestry Research and Development Centre for Northern Mountainous Region (ADC), the Northwest Cooperation Development Center, and TABA Social Enterprise began the Ethnic Minority Women’s Empowerment through Developing the Specialty (Te Rau) Rice Value Chain in Son La Province project. The project focuses on advancing women’s economic empowerment by enhancing their participation and performance in the production and sale of specialty rice.
This project aims to improve livelihoods for 54 households in Buot Village, and 333 households in Phu Mau Village, Chieng Yen, Van Ho and Song Khua communes of Van Ho District, Son La Province.
Te Rau rice is indigenous to the area and is known for its great taste and flavour, and it has strong potential to be sold to high-end markets in Vietnam’s larger cities. The project organised technical trainings for 333 households (including 453 women, almost all from ethnic minority groups) on Te Rau rice production that meets VietGAP standards. A total of 10 ha of Te Rau rice belonging to 100 households in Van Ho District has subsequently been certified to VietGAP standards.
The project also delivered 16 trainings on organic agriculture and supported Van Ho women to apply Vietnam’s locally based participatory guarantee system to the production of organic rice.
To ensure the sustainable development of the Te Rau rice area, local cooperatives including Song Khua Rice Cooperative and Dong Rung Van Ho Agriculture and Tourism Cooperative were provided with business training to ensure they can support local farmers. These two cooperatives were also connected to TABA Social Enterprise, an investor which supports them with business strategy advice, co-invests in their business, and distributes Te Rau rice to the domestic market.
Buot villagers embraced the new opportunity provided by the project. To date, results have been positive with Te Rau rice produced by local women sold at VND15,000 per kg, which is twice as high as the price of more commonly produced rice varieties. On average, each household will earn VND 65.5 million annually from selling Te Rau rice.
Song Khua Rice Cooperative now packs their rice and sells the final product for VND 45,000 per kg. Mrs Ngan Thi Nga, a local farmer, explains how she has benefited.
“Today I sold Te Rau rice paddy. With the more common rice varieties, we would normally harvest 20 packs of paddy, now with the Te Rau rice variety, we harvest only 15 packs but its price is twice as high as the price of the more commonly grown varieties. Next year, I will continue growing Te Rau to sell,” Mrs Nga said.
With the support of the GREAT Program, Te Rau rice is now sold and consumed in the larger cities, including Hanoi, Hai Phong and Thanh Hoa. Song Khua Rice Cooperative has distributed over 20 tonnes of Te Rau rice with new packaging and labels. TABA Social Enterprise has purchased 15 tonnes of Te Rau rice from farmers in Buot Village following the first crop, and has distributed the rice to more than 200 food stores in Hanoi. Local farmers and the enterprise continue to expand the Te Rau rice cultivation area.
The project has also helped cooperatives in highland communes find opportunities for development and cooperation with external partners and enterprises and opened up more channels for local products.
“We believe that once there are close economic linkages and relationships, the economic development opportunities for the mountainous and rural regions will be opened up, for Buot Village, for Song Khua, Van Ho and Chieng Yen communes, and many other locations in the mountainous regions of Vietnam,” said Mr Thai Ba Sinh, the Head of Van Ho District Agriculture Division.
By: Northwest Cooperation Development Center– TABA