In October 2022, the European Forest Institute (EFI) and the Provincial Project Management Unit of Lam Dong Province hosted a Land-use Planner training course in Da Lat City, Vietnam. The event welcomed 32 participants from Lam Dong and Dak Nong Provinces, including members from several People’s Committees, the Department of Agricultural and Rural Development and of Natural Resources and Environment, and non-governmental organisations.
The training course was participatory and trainee-centred, with participants encouraged to engage actively in learning activities using real-life situations. Three project teams shared their experiences in learning how to use the Land-use Planner to support sustainable agricultural and land-use planning.
Using the Land-use Planner at the commune level: Dak Nong cadastral work
A group of various actors from diverse sectors and fields, including local officials doing cadastral work at the commune level, joined the training from Dak Nong. They used official statistics and local knowledge from real experiences in their commune to develop different land-use scenarios. These included:
- Timber plantation in the Nam Cat Tien forest
- Intercropping vegetables under durian trees
- Grazing for swine in forest and farming areas
Some in the group spend most of their daily work carrying out on-site visits and communicating with local residents at those sites. Many noted the usefulness and practicality of the Land-use Planner as a tool to support better discussions with stakeholders in the field.
“This tool suits my work well and is helping to support farmers in my area.”
A cadastral official from Dak Nong
Source: Q-Huong Le, MDRI, 2022
DANOFARM: women from ethnic minority groups engaging in sustainable agriculture in Dak Nong Province
Located in Quang Son Commune, Dak G’long District, Dak Nong Province, DANOFARM is a cooperative with members from diverse ethnic groups, many of whom are women. The cooperative aims to promote traditional handicrafts and local agricultural products like Robusta coffee.
As Ms Ta Thi Lien, Director of DANOFARM, explained, despite the high quality of their coffee products, it is hard for DANOFARM to find markets for their coffee. This is because the cooperative is limited in resources and technical capacity for market promotion and competition.
Ms Lien participated in the Land-use Planner training course and tested DANOFARM’s business data to develop some practical agricultural production scenarios. Based on DANOFARM’s current and prospective business practice, she tested three scenarios:
- Intercropping coffee with medical herb
- Combining bee-raising and silkworm-raising with mulberry farming (for silkworm feeding)
- Agricultural tourism
Her participation provided a practical perspective in discussions with participants from the public sector.
Global Coffee Platform: experience with the Land-use Planner in different projects and its potential use for diverse actors
Apart from local stakeholders, the Land-use Planner training course also welcomed a technical expert from the Global Coffee Platform – Mr Mai Xuan Thong. Mr Thong has previously used the Land-use Planner and other similar modelling tools. Coupled with his rich experience in coffee production techniques, he offered valuable support and insights while facilitating group discussions.
During the training course, Mr Thong collaborated with a group of participants from Di Linh to develop scenarios for the district. Their scenarios explored increasing forest, rice and coffee plantation areas to exploit fallow and unused land areas.
From Mr Thong’s perspective, the Land-use Planner can be a valuable tool for a multitude of users, at diverse scales and with varying aims, from cooperatives or even family farms up to large-scale planning processes. The tool and its outputs can help stakeholders find a balance between agricultural production and forest ecosystem-based services.
Participants from the Central Highlands of Vietnam explored the various ways the Land-use Planner could support sustainable land-use planning in their areas and meet a range of needs. Bringing together a diverse set of stakeholders from the government, private sector and civil society, the training helped to establish a Land-use Planner community of practice in Vietnam, and users can continue to exchange on using data and modelling future scenarios to inform land-use strategies.
Nguyen Que Huong Le
Mekong Development Research Institute