There has been impressive progress in greenhouse building at Dounien village these past few weeks!
The nearby organic farm has helped train the model farmers to build their own greenhouses, and the project has provided training on ‘How to make composted soil for seedling bed’ and ‘How to record farm activities’. Mentors found that composted soil for seedling is needed, as seed is easily damaged by ants, ground insects and weeds, during the germination period.
Farmers can start growing their vegetables before completing the greenhouses.
After the first crop production training for Dounien village, 6 volunteer model farmers started planning their new activities. Working closely with mentors, they have decided to start with Good Agricultural Practices :
“practices that address environmental, economic and social sustainability for on-farm processes, and result in safe and quality food and non-food agricultural products” (FAO COAG 2003 GAP paper)
This way they can build on their own experience in growing a wide range of vegetables which include onion, eggplant, spinach, morning glory, watermelon, papaya and cucumber.
At last weekend’s meeting, each farmer developed a cropping plan and the project mentors discussed with them the kinds of materials they will require and how to source good quality seeds. The next steps will be building a greenhouse and preparing the family plot. Let’s see what happens next.
Tasting organic long beans from the organic farm Admiring water sprinklers at organic farm
The world of organic can be over-whelming: procedures, certification, testing. Not an easy-access option for small farmers keen to try new farming techniques.
That’s why Vets without Borders and FoA organised an introductory 3-day training for farmers in Dounien village to show them the ropes, explain what is meant by organic and ‘good agricultural practices’ (GAP) and experiment with making their own compost.
The visit to Ban Thaxang, a local organic farm set up 3 years ago and run by 20 households, showed what all this can look like in practice, and gave participants a real vision for dreaming big.
Trainer Ms Phimmasone said “The participants already have animals and some land, but they didn’t know how to make organic compost and use natural pest control. Now they have seen how others are doing it, it will help them to try it themselves”.
Co-trainer Mr Sayvisen added “The next step will be to actually try these new approaches in their own farms. We don’t want to just stop at training, we will help them prepare for new and growing markets”.
For lunch the workshop group tasted samples of fresh water spinach from Ban Thaxang and everyone got to take some vegetables home.
Over the new few weeks, group members will volunteer to work as model farmers to try out these new techniques in their backyards.