Improving indigenous technologies for sustainable land use in northern mountainous areas of vietnam
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More than 30 ethnic groups are now living in northern mountainous regions, Vietnam, mainly relying on shifting cultivation with the fallow period being shortened from time to time. Naturally, soil fertility reduces from cycle to cycle, entailing the reduction of productivity. Large areas of moderately sloping lands suitable for upland agriculture have become bare after many cultivation-fallow cycles. The soils there have been severely degraded with more toxicity, low porosity, low water retention capacity and poor floral diversity. Normally, these lands cannot be used for food crop cultivation. So farmers in uplands have to rely on slash-and-burn practices for their livelihood. As there is no more forest with good soil in medium slopes, farmers go to cut forests in watershed, high slope lands and old forests up to the mountains’ top. There are ecologically and environmentally very sensitive areas, so their destruction will inevitably cause hazardous consequences in the whole basin. Meanwhile, cultivation in these areas has low economic efficiency and sustainability because the crop yield may decrease very fast due to severe erosion as the higher the slope, the more serious erosion. Consequently living standards of highland farmers remain low and unstable.
Sustainable farming on these lands in the perspective of a seriously deteriorated ecology and environmental is not an easy task. There have been many projects trying to help mountainous farmers get out of their vicious circle. However, due to different reasons, the results gained are low, and in some cases, things ceased to move after the projects phased out.
During past few years, based on the farmer experiences, the Vietnam Agricultural Science Institute has cooperated with local and international partners to implement different projects in order to solve the problems by developing simple, easy and cheap cultivation technologies, which can be accepted and applied by local poor farmers for sustainable agricultural production. The first results of our activities offered good opportunities for sustain food production, improve soil health, recharge of aquifers, and enhanced household income for better rural lively hoods in the upland eco-regions of northern Vietnam.
KeywordsIndigenous technologies sustainable agriculture upland eco-regions northern vietnam
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