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FOCUS ON NGOs
MARCH MAY 2011 PARTNERS
World Vision is a Christian non-profit and humanitarian organisation working to
improve the quality of life of people, especially children, who are marginalised
and living in poverty. Established in 1950, the organisation has expertise in areas
such as agriculture, micro-enterprise economic assistance, capacity building, and
emergency relief and mitigation.
The Area Development Program (ADP) is World Vision's standard program
model and is funded by child-sponsorship funds.
Programs are integrated and generally support local economic
development and sustainable livelihoods, with a strong focus on health
and education. ADPs aim to build the capacity for local people to ultimately
undertake their own development.
ThailandMahasarakham province in north-eastern
Thailand is among one of the poorest
parts of the country. Dr Gamini
Keerthisinghe, ACIAR's soil management and crop
nutrition research program manager, says the major
agricultural activity in the area is a single crop of
lowland rice, grown under rain-fed conditions during
the annual wet season.
"Of the total 57,000 hectares of agricultural land
in the target area, almost 92% is planted to rice in
the wet season," he says. "Grain yields, however, are
below potential yields, mainly due to low soil fertility,
salinity and acidity. The second-most important
activity is raising cattle for beef production."
By using the rice-growing area before and after
cropping, beef production becomes an integral part
of the rice-farming system. Most farming households
have two or three head of cattle---a potentially
important contributor to family income---but
farmers frequently struggle to provide enough feed.
In partnership with Khon Kaen University,
World Vision has been actively engaged in raising
agricultural productivity and profitability of this vital
Stephen Collins, country program coordinator at
World Vision Australia, says the projects had many
different aspects, from introducing new forage
options (including plants such as cassava that
double as a cash crop), to reducing the weed load on
rice production, a problem identified as 'serious' by
94% of surveyed farmers.
"Some of the prime innovations to the dual
rice--livestock farms were the introduction of a new
rice variety better suited to dry sowing---RD33,"
Dr Keerthisinghe says. "It has a shorter maturity time,
which provides greater opportunity for farmers to
get a second crop in the same season."
To control weeds, row-seeding techniques were
tested, with a Thai research institute developing a
The third component of the project was training
for university students. There are four doing Masters
degrees at Khon Kaen University, with the ACIAR
project providing the field-research opportunities
for the degree.
"There have been some good outcomes for
farmers from this project and it has been useful for the
ADP staff to learn from the ACIAR-brokered contacts,"
Mr Collins says. "There are a couple of other ADPs
nearby that have also learned a lot from the project."
World Vision Australia supports seven
ADPs in Vietnam that reach a beneficiary
population of about 400,000 people.
Most are located in mountainous areas where many
people belong to ethnic minorities.
In a departure from typical practices, one
ADP adopted agricultural practices that were first
pioneered in two ACIAR projects. One related to
rodent control in rice paddies and the other to soil
fertility. Training and support were provided by the
ACIAR team to World Vision Vietnam, which then
introduced the innovations to ADP farmers.
Leading the rodent-control ACIAR team was
Dr Peter Brown from CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.
His involvement with Vietnam dates back to 1996
and continues to the present, as the initiative went
through three stages. These involved first analysing
the problems facing farmers and testing solutions
with farmer participation before roll out of effective
methods to villages.
"Among the effective technology identified in
stage one was the community trap-barrier system or
CTBS," Dr Brown says. "It involves one farmer planting
a rice paddy three weeks before everyone else in the
village. That paddy then acts like a vacuum cleaner,
attracting rats from surrounding areas. The paddy
is surrounded by a plastic fence containing small
holes, which lead to multiple live-capture traps. Data
showed this method could improve rice yields in
fields located 200 metres from the fence."
The CTBS method is used in combination with a
range of community actions (CA) to reduce rodent
damage and increase rice yields. These side-by-
side methods include synchronised cropping, field
sanitation and community rat campaigns to dig out
rat burrows in key habitats.
World Vision Vietnam adopted techniques such
as CTBS and CA and, with support and training from
Dr Brown and his in-country partners, introduced
the technologies to farmers beyond the reach of the
Mr Le Anh Tuan, formerly of World Vision Vietnam
and now with the World Bank, has analysed and
written about the ACIAR--World Vision experience.
He says 42 experimental sites were set up
under the World Vision rodent control project, and
28 experimental and demonstration sites for the
soil fertility project. All field sites were managed
by farmers, with the support of weekly visits by
project staff and quarterly or biannual visits by
scientists from local and international collaborating
institutions. These include the Institute of Plant
Protection, the Institute of Soils and Fertilizers,
the Southern Institute of Agricultural Sciences,
CSIRO, the International Rice Research Institute,
the University of Queensland and the Queensland
Department of Natural Resources and Mines.
"The main lesson we draw is that an effective
demand-driven collaboration between outside
'change agents' and in-country 'opinion leaders' is
needed to transfer innovation," Mr Tuan says.
"We particularly found that the technical support
and continuous commitment from researchers played
an important role in providing a strong platform for
change for the major end users, who are farmers, local
government officials and other World Vision staff."
He found that World Vision and local government
also played a vital role in some key areas. Of
particular value was their ability to:
n promote 'learning by doing' as a way to build
n clarify technical issues
n maintain effective communications among
n provide a sense of project ownership among
n embed the work in a broader program of long-
term community development.
"This collaborative model using adaptive
research provided a good framework of partnership
and an active learning alliance between partners,"
Mr Tuan says.
"Such success stories need to be scaled out,
not only to leverage limited financial and human
development resources but also to avoid possible
traps in the technology transfer process."
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