On 29 March, SNV staff visited MAM project sites in Ca Mau province. Mr. André Jager (SNV Global Managing Director - Agriculture), Mr. Richard Rastall (Agriculture Sector Leader, SNV Vietnam), Ms. Ismène Stalpers, (SNV Indonesia Country Director), Mr. Rizki Pandu Permana (Agriculture Sector Leader, SNV Indonesia) and Mr. Johan Martens (SNV Marketing and Communications Advisor, Agriculture Sector) were amongst visitors together with MAM project manager Ms. Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy.
The first the team met was the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), which has been project partner for six year. Mr. Chau Cong Bang, DARD’s deputy director. He told the team that due to the project the conservation of mangrove forests in Ca Mau has significantly improved. Around 80,000 hectares of mangrove forest has been replanted or protected. The MAM team has also provided technical assistance to farmers to help improve their productivity and obtain an international organic shrimp certification for integrated mangrove-shrimp farming. Shrimp farmers’ misconception that clearing mangroves will increase production for shrimp farming has been changed. They have moved from cutting down mangrove forests to replanting and protecting them, Mr. Bang noted. He also mentioned the creation of 76 shrimp farmers groups that helps individual farmers work together and share knowledge.
He stated that “The project has helped change the mindset of the provincial administration and enhance capacity for DARD and the province’s specialised aquaculture agencies in managing the shrimp farming industry. Over a period of six years, the project has brought very concrete results which proved the hard work and efforts of both sides. We will work hard to maintain these positive results as well as build on their success in the coming time.”
Mr. Bang invited the SNV to scale up the MAM project in the future as the province has immense potential for shrimp production and there is a lack of knowledge with smallholder farmers on the practices and techniques. A possible location for the expansion of the project is the large extensive shrimp farming area along Ca Mau coastal areas with more 30,000 shrimp farms, measuring 50,000 hectares (the area has been surveyed by the MAM team and DARD and currently they are reviewing a proposal for project expansion).
Mr. Andre de Jager, SNV Managing Director, shared his impression of the project’s results. He particularly appreciated the cooperation with DARD and their role in the project's success.He thought that an expansion should include activities to enhance the project's quality.
After the meeting with DARD, the SNV team visited Minh Phu Seafood Corporation, one of the major shrimp processing and exporter companies in the country. Minh Phu has worked with SNV to help local shrimp farmers obtain organic mangrove shrimp certification and buys the certified shrimps.
Mr. Le Van Diep, CEO of Minh Phu Ca Mau, shared his experiences and challenges in getting organic shrimp certification for the farmers. He stated that the main points for improvement in the supply chain would be to increase the survival rates of shrimp larvae and increasing the level of natural feeds in the shrimp ponds. This recommendation was particularly practical and close to the forthcoming plan of the MAM team to organise workshops to share the results of several studies on the effects of natural feeds that were conducted over the past years.
In the afternoon, the SNV team continued their visit and met the Nhung Mien Forest Management Board (FMB) to learn more about its task to protect and sustainably manage the mangrove forests together with the shrimp farmers in the area. The Nhung Mien area contains about 3,000 households, most of whom are shrimp farmers.
The FMB manages about 12,000 hectares of mangrove forests, on 11,000 hectares farmers are allowed to grow shrimp, but they must keep 60% mangrove coverage. When the mangrove trees are around 15 years old, farmers are allowed to cut down the trees and sell the wood. They can earn around 100 million VND per hectare. Mr. Ta Minh Tan, Nhung Mien FMB’s deputy director, noted that under the MAM project, smallholders have learned how to conserve mangrove trees and sustainably produce organic shrimp.
The team also visited the mangrove greenbelt, which protects the local area from salt water intrusion and coastal erosion. The FMB strictly monitors the greenbelt again logging, erosion an intrusion. As a last stop the team met with some local shrimp farmers who have participated in the MAM project. Mr. Hoang Van Ta, a shrimp farmer in Tac Bien Commune, shared “The project has brought valuable knowledge and farming techniques to us farmers. Thanks to the project, our income has been significantly improved and we also gained profound insights into the importance of mangrove forest for both the environment and our livelihood. We are very excited to participate in the upcoming activities.”
After the meetings, the MAM team had gained valuable insights into the experience of stakeholders. The information will be included in a new proposal for scaling up the project by promoting the Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) approach in the Mekong Delta, which is highly vulnerable to climate change.