What are some examples of successful ACIAR projects?
Introduction of high value plantation forests
Many Vietnamese rural communities suffer a harsh climate and degraded soils. Australian and Vietnamese experts have been working together to introduce varieties of Australian tree species suited to Vietnamese conditions. These species have been successfully planted in difficult environments, increasing land productivity and stopping soil degradation. This research work has brought benefit to Vietnam’s wood growers and small rural companies who participate in the multi-million dollars wood production industry. The current focus of ACIAR’s forestry research in Vietnam is improving management of plantations to grow trees for higher value furniture products and improving processing.
Non-chemical control of rodents in rice fields
Rodents are an age-old problem for farmers. For many years, ACIAR has supported research on controlling this pest. In Vietnam, CSIRO, the National Institute for Plant Protection and the Institute for Agricultural Sciences of South Vietnam have researched rats’ feeding and breeding habits. This knowledge has resulted in a new integrated management approach. This includes a Trap Barrier System (TBS) which uses a lure crop, planted before the main crop, to attract rats. The lure crop is surrounded by a small moat and plastic fencing, with access deliberately provided in a few places. Traps are placed behind these access points, snaring rats in sufficient numbers to break the population cycle. The TBS uses cheap, readily available materials, and is an alternative to harmful poisons and chemicals. By using the TBS and other new management approaches, some farmers have seen a reduction in crop losses from 15-20% to 5-10%.
Better control of citrus pests, fruit fly and plant disease diagnosis
To help Vietnam control plant diseases, ACIAR has funded a project to boost the diagnostic capacity of Vietnam’s plant pathologists through training and to establish a diagnostic laboratory at the Hanoi Agricultural University (HAU). The Queensland University of Technology, the University of Sydney, the National Institute of Plant Protection and HAU worked on major diseases of fruit and vegetable crops, determining the cause of many diseases for the first time. HAU now has a state-of-the-art molecular disease diagnostic laboratory, which provides a valuable training ground for young Vietnamese scientists. On a more practical field based level, ACIAR has supported plant disease diagnostic laboratories in Quang Nam and Nghe An to help local Plant Protection Department staff provide timely and accurate advice on crop diseases to farmers.
A fruit fly control project is another good example of ACIAR’s success in crop protection research. Through an extensive collaborative project between Foster’s Vietnam, Bayer and the Crawford Fund, the International Centre for the Management of Pest Fruit Flies (Griffith University), the Southern Fruit Research Institute and the National Institute of Plant Protection, the project developed a protein bait made from brewery waste which attracts fruit flies. With a pesticide added to it, the bait is applied as a small spot to each tree in an orchard. The result is a low-cost and environmentally friendly method of controlling fruit flies. An added advantage of the method is brewery waste will no longer be released into the environment. This research has been successfully commercialised, and is rapidly being adopted across large areas in the south and north of Vietnam. Reduced crop losses have seen income increased by 200% on some orchards in the Mekong Delta.
ACIAR-funded projects in fishery started in 1998 and many of them helped improve the fish production in inland pond and small reservoirs, and increase income of small and medium size farmers and fishers in Vietnam. Economic studies demonstrated the benefit of inland fisheries and effectiveness of better management practices. ACIAR has also had a focus on fish nutrition to develop more sustainable and economic feeds to reduce the reliance on wild-caught fish feeds. This work has been conducted for Catfish and mud-crabs. More recently ACIAR has had a very successful program on development of molluscs (oysters and clams) with a particular focus on hatchery production techniques in Quang Ninh province. The improved hatchery techniques have assisted the rapid development of smallholder floating farms in the protected water ways near Ha Long Bay.
Introduction of better pig breeds
Pig production is vitally important to Vietnam. However the local pig breeds are slow growing, producing meat with a high fat content. The Institute of Agricultural Sciences of South Vietnam worked with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries (QDPI) to introduce Australian breeds well suited to Vietnamese conditions. Crossing the Vietnamese and Australian breeds resulted in faster growing progeny with leaner meat. Through joint support from AusAID, five artificial insemination centres have been equipped and used to introduce and build up the newer, superior breeds. An independent assessment has estimated that by 2010, this project’s value to Vietnamese pig farmers may total US$325 million.
Improved vaccines for poultry
In Vietnam, poultry farming is a major income source for many smallholder farmers. The industry, however, faces a major disease threat from plague. Vaccines and diagnostic tests for poultry diseases in Vietnam, including Newcastle disease in chickens, have been developed by Australian and Vietnamese experts under the ACIAR-funded research projects. The vaccines are now distributed by the Vietnam National Veterinary Company throughout Vietnam and Cambodia. Independent assessments estimated that by 2012, Vietnam’s poultry farmers will benefit by as much as US$40million as a result of this research.
In Quang Ngai and Quang Nam, Hue University and Australian Scientists have been developing feeding regimes using locally available feeds to improve the health and production of beef cattle. Collaboration in Quang Nam with Word Vision has seen small mountainous villages improve their production and incomes with simple but appropriate changes in growing feed crops and management of cattle. Similar work has now been extended in the south Central Coast region and soon to be linked to research on successful beef value chains in the Dak Lak province.