Farmers in Cao Quang and Quang Thach communes in Vietnam’s Quang Binh province participated in a 3-part training activity on sweetpotato, held over a total of seven days in September, November, and December 2017. Facilitated by a group consisting of a senior agronomist from the International Potato Center (CIP), a plant breeder from the Field Crops Research Institute (FCRI)-Vietnam, an animal nutritionist, and CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture) staff members from the IFAD-funded FoodSTART+ project (Food Resilience through Root and Tuber Crops in Upland and Coastal Communities of the Asia-Pacific), the training imparted learning on sweetpotato planting and agronomy, sustainable soil management, pest and disease identification and management, and effective, climate-resilient crop management in different stages of production, amongst some 51 participants including both farmers and agricultural extension workers.

The value of the training lies in the new knowledge and skills that the farmers acquired. It was amazing to see them realize how one simple change in farming practice could result in higher, better, and more sustainable, yields.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Hoan, for example, a farmer from Quang Thach commune, had never applied potassium to her plants before. But according to her she now knows better what plants need for a healthy growth, and is also determined to source and use clean planting materials to limit the incidence of pests and diseases.

In a study published in 2017, FoodSTART+ identified the gaps between conventional farming practiced in Quang Binh and climate-smart ones. In addition, results of a pre-training test among participants had revealed important knowledge gaps on pests and diseases: farmers were not able to recognize disease symptoms in sweetpotato plants. Heavily impacting yield was also the lack of awareness of any rapid multiplication techniques for planting materials.

In response, the training facilitators, designed a curriculum that addressed specific issues of high importance to farmers.




Module 1 Sweetpotato (SP) production in Vietnam with focus in the Central Region and in Quang Binh Province in particular To gain increased awareness of the importance of SP for increased resilience to climate change
Exercise: :  Current cropping practices (e.g. soil preparation, varieties selection, soil erosion prevention) To gain understanding of the key challenges farmers are facing
Module 2 SP varieties and method for multiplication of SP planting material To gain understanding of how to select a variety for production and how to multiply healthy and vigorous vines
Module 3 Soil management practices: Soil property management & fertility enrichment. Selection of field for growing SW crop and land preparation To gain understanding of how to enhance soil fertility; how to select a field with suitable physical soil properties; and how to prepare the field for planting
Module 4 Sweetpotato planting techniques: Basal application of fertilizers before planting. Preparation of vine cuttings as seed for planting. Planting method (spacing and planting density To gain understanding of and practice how to use organic manure and inorganic fertilizer as basal; of methods of vine cutting preparation; of planting methods.
Field Visit: Sweetpotato field –AESA Analysis on local farming practice To gain increased awareness and knowledge of the existence and role of natural enemies in the SP agroecosystem



Field work: Pest and Disease and Crop management in early growing stage To be able to identify key pests and diseases of sweet potato and describe their symptoms and damage
Module 5 Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPM). Common SP pests and diseases. IPM knowledge and practical application. To gain understanding of the concepts of IPM and Integrated Crop Management; to be able to identify the major sweetpotato pests and diseases; to gain understanding of the requirements for obtaining a healthy crop
Module 6 Crop management in the early and middle growing stages. Farming practices in the initial phase (15 DAP) for obtaining the optimum plant density and crop establishment. First and second side dressing, weeding, balancing foliage and root growth To gain understanding of the development cycle of sweet potato; of the different development phases of the sweet potato plants and associated tasks; to be able to perform these practices



Field work: Knowing and managing good soil at sloping area To gain knowledge of and skills on soil erosion evaluation and control; to gain appreciation of the properties and importance of good soil for sweetpotato
Field work: Crop management at different growing stages and harvesting  practices To gain knowledge of the main aspects of SP crop management, harvesting and preliminary post-harvest handling
Filed work: Practical exercise in processing chili pesticide To be able to process chili pesticide by themselves using materials commonly found in their backyards or kitchens
Module 7 Crop management in the final growing stage and Harvesting. Crop management in the final growing stage: balancing foliage and root growth, water management, disease and pest management. Harvesting practices. To gain knowledge of and skills in taking care of sweet potato crop during this stage
Module 8 Sweetpotato Integrated Crop Management. Sweetpotato-based cropping system for Quang Binh and Central Regions of Vietnam.
Module 9 Introducing Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) and Nutrition To gain appreciation of how OFSP can contribute to reducing Vitamin A deficiency
Module 10 Vines utilization as a fermented product for pig feed To gain knowledge of and skills in simple silage processing

By the close of session one, there had been a consensus and a plan to establish a multiplication center for clean sweetpotato planting material that is to supply smallholder farmers in the two communes with increased quantities of disease-free sweetpotato planting materials.

At session two, we launched and distributed a publication – Recommended sweetpotato farming practices in Quang Binh, Vietnam: a way to promote sustainable rural development and food security under a changing climate – among farmers and extension workers to guide sweetpotato farming practices.

At session three, we talked about the nutritional benefits of consuming sweetpotato, particularly theorange-fleshed sweetpotato, for tackling vitamin A deficiency, which could cause stunting, especially among women and children. In Vietnam, stunting is observed among 25.9% of children under 5 years old.

Working within the framework of large-scale development projects supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, FoodSTART+ aims to enhance food resilience among poor households by introducing root and tuber crops innovations. In Vietnam, FoodSTART+ works with the Sustainable Rural Development for the Poor (SRDP) investment project.

Photos by Le Hang Thi/CIAT

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