“It’s less harmful to my health if I don’t have to spray herbicide. My farther and grandfather made good rice harvests without any herbicide. Why we make ourselves dependent? It’s better that we farmers are self-assured” – Mr. Bui Van Bon, 70 years old farmer, resident in Dong Phu commune, Hanoi firmly stated.
We sat down on the side of the deep yellow rice fields belonging to Bon’s family. He passionately talked about paddy rice cultivation. He said proudly “my family applies SRI in all our 6 sao” (each sao equal to 360 square meters). He did not attend any farmer field school and only learnt from his neighbours. He was not entirely certain at the beginning. The bountiful demonstration sites, however, convinced him.
Some woman members in my group still insisted to clarify the rumour that transplanting in SRI technique was difficult. Bon shared his secret that the paddy field should be well prepared. He made himself a bamboo tube to even the field and pressed down the weeds. “Man normally does not like bending their back, thus, shallow placement and wider spacing technique like SRI makes the transplanting faster and easier” – he said. His 2 person family has only himself and 26 years-old son. His wife passed away few years ago. Although the son does not live full time at home, he manages to lend a hand during the peak times.
His four SRI crops were successful on a row. We were eager to know if this crop was another success. Bon simply put on an unassuming smile “have to wait after harvest in a few days” even though the rice panicles look as if they were about to fall down because of so many full grains.
With the technical support from the Plant Protection Department under scope of Oxfam-supported project, together with few other farmer groups Bon will combine SRI and Viet – GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) to move into production of chemical-free and high-value rice.
Lê Minh, Oxfam America
Impressions from the field visit during Field Day on community-based SRI application in Chuong My district, Hanoi, Vietnam
15 September 2009