Developing Business with the Rural Poor Programme in Cao Bang Province

8:49:34 AM | 21/11/2012

Phia Den in Thanh Cong commune, Nguyen Binh district, Cao Bang province is a locality with favourable climate and soil conditions for growing of Canna edulis Ker for production of vermicelli which is a famous specialty of Cao Bang. With the assistance from the Developing Business with the Rural Poor Programme (DBRP), the Canna edulis Ker vermicelli has become a consumable goods and contributed to sustainable income generation, hunger alleviation and poverty reduction for the local people.
According to Mr Du Van Siu, Chairman of Thanh Cong commune People’s Committee, the Canna edulis Ker planting model in groups has contributed to the fulfillment of the sustainable hunger alleviation and poverty reduction goal of the people. “This is a large programme of our district, through which local people get supported. The plant area, therefore, has kept expanding from 49.6 hectares in 2008 to approximately 80 hectares in 2012.”
Prior to the implementation of the programme, product consumption was more difficult since there was not a large volume of product and consumers did not know about it by then. However, the story is different now. “Since Canna edulis Ker vermicelli was introduced at market fairs by the programme, Phia Den vermicelli has been better known of. Without DBRP, our product cannot find its way out of local market,” said Mr Siu.
Mr Rudi Schuetz, Chief Technical Advisor of DBRP said that since project VN/029 was implemented via predominant support from the IFAD, there has been significant change in terms of raising awareness for local people. The programme provides technical assistance to local people through theory and practice in the fields and through modeling. Mr Schuetz revealed that “At the beginning, when the local people neither knew about value chains nor the way to improve productivity, we demonstrated how to do it and conducted training. We then work with and supervise them. Examination of efficiency and productivity is then conducted as the final step.”
Over one year ago, when the DBRP was implemented in Nguyen Binh locality, Mr Truong Van Long, who lives at Phia Den Commnue joined the group of people with an interest in making Canna edulis Ker vermicelli. He told that “I used to have 0.5 hectare for planting Canna edulis Ker and harvested 20 tonnes of product annually. I then made vermicelli and earned VND60 million (US$3,000). Since being supported by the programme, our family’s income has been significantly improved.”
What makes Long surprised most is the fact that when applying the planting and caring techniques as directed by the programme, the productivity has been doubled. He now harvests 40 tonnes of product from the same growing area. In addition, his family no longer sells the powder. They now completes the final stage, i.e. vermicelli making. Thanks to stable production, his family has been able to buy an extra powder filter machine. Long intends to expand production by purchasing another 0.5 hectare of land. Despite being contented with these results, Long is still concerned about product consumption.
Mr Phuong Tien Tan, Programme Director of DBRP, believes that what the programme brings local people is value chains of products. In other words, the programme creates a linkage between farmers and the market with a view to enhancing value of farming products and reducing unnecessary costs. However, to reach these goals, involvement and commitment of concerned authorities at all levels, departments and particularly enterprises are needed. “We are aware that the farmers just participate at some certain stage of the value chain. They are now involved in the very first stage of the value chain, i.e production (raising pigs, cows and growing Canna edulis Ker to provide inputs for the value chain.” 
Long is highly appreciative of the implementation of this model in which local people’s demands are attentively listened to and on that basement, policies on and plans for sustainable poverty alleviation and hunger reduction are developed. This is also the way the programme teaches local people to fish in stead of giving them a fish like the traditional way.
Nguyen Mai