Students Abroad: Abigail Smith in My Loi, Vietnam

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Thanks to funding from the Coca Cola World Fund at Yale, Abigail Smith, a Class of 2018 Master of Environmental Management Candidate at the Yale School of the Environment, traveled to Vietnam to work with the World Agroforestry Centre on agriculture and climate-change mitigation.

My work this summer is focused on a Climate-Smart Agriculture project led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Vietnam. As the planet warms and global population continues to grow and demand for food increases, it is increasingly urgent to devise solutions which achieve sustainable nutritional and ecological security. On the farm level, these overlapping goals necessitate agricultural ecosystems with high levels of biological productivity to maximize ecological interactions and niches, as well as resource use efficiency to minimize artificial or external inputs into the agricultural system.

Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) denotes a set of practices developed to increase both productivity and resiliency in the face of a changing climate. Practices are developed in partnership with local farmers based on their perceived priorities and needs, and are designed to synergistically address food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation. CSA methods regard the farm and landscape holistically with the goal of facilitating short and long-term ecosystem health through sustainable management of soil and water resources.

I spent this week in My Loi, Vietnam, learning from farmers about the various strategies they are implementing. My Loi is a Climate-Smart Village, meaning that it was identified as the site for development and testing of technologically appropriate interventions, innovations, and policies which are focused on sustainability as well as social and economic empowerment. With the support of research scientists from ICRAF, farmers in My Loi test various approaches to determine the impact on yields, resilience to changing weather patterns, and other metrics. Some of these climate-smart practices include the creation of a community nursery to propagate adapted species, vermiculture composting using crop waste and livestock manure, and beneficial intercropping combinations to maximize yield and soil fertility. These projects not only contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but also can have transformative impacts on the livelihoods of rural farmers.

The opportunity to learn about adaptive management strategies from farmers themselves is fascinating, and I’m thrilled to be able to deepen my understanding about these practices and their scalability in the coming weeks. The leadership and creativity of farmers I’ve met fills me with hope and optimism about the future confluence of food security and climate resilience. I’m very grateful to the Coca Cola World Fund at Yale and the McMillan Center for making this experience possible.