Smart farming model adapts to climate change

Over the past two years, many farmers in the south-central coastal province of Binh Thuan have planted dragon fruit to reduce air emissions and improve quality of life. Dragon fruit is of high quality and can be exported to many demanding markets. Currently, farmers in the province have continued to improve “green” dragon fruit production standards, aiming to sell carbon credits.

Emission-reducing dragon fruit sells for high prices and is exported to several demanding markets. (Photo: Thanh Hai)

Reducing costs by about 40%

It was only 9 a.m., farmer Tran Dinh Trung of Thuan Tien Dragon Fruit Cooperative (Ham Liem Commune, Ham Thuan Bac District) was resting and no longer had to take care of dragon fruits. Previously, with an area of 1.5 hectares, Trung had to work hard until nearly 11 am before taking a break. In addition, he also had to hire two or three workers.

Now, only one labourer is needed to finish the work early. After working, Trung opened the “Green Dragon Fruit Chain” application on his smartphone to update the amount of fertiliser, production date, water amount, pruning, lighting, etc.

The data, when updated to the “Green Dragon Fruit Chain”, will have the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s calculation formula as to how much emissions a hectare can reduce. Trung shared that since the end of the COVID-19 epidemic, through the province’s Agricultural Extension Centre, the cooperative has been supported by the project with 50% of production materials, such as switching to 9W LED light bulbs to save energy in handling off-season flowering dragon fruit and invest in an economical drip irrigation system. On average, one hectare invests about 80 million VND for a drip irrigation system, saving nearly 40 million VND for an LED lighting system.

After one season, the results were better than expected, and costs were reduced by about 40%. For example, electricity bills were reduced by 50%, fertiliser costs by 30%, labour costs by 30%, etc.

A representative of the Thuan Tien Dragon Fruit Cooperative said in the past, farmers used round lights and compact lights that consumed a lot of electricity, so there was often a lack of electricity during the production season. Since switching to LED bulbs, farmers no longer worry about the lack of electricity during the production season. If the project invests in a solar energy system with an electricity storage tank for lighting in the evening, emissions will be greatly reduced; from there, dragon fruit production further reduces emissions and has the opportunity to sell more carbon credits.

Currently, Binh Thuan dragon fruit has been exported to more than 20 markets. Deputy Director of the Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Phan Van Tan, said that Binh Thuan Dragonfruit was granted registration of the name of origin of goods by the National Office of Intellectual Property, with the name “Binh Thuan DRAGON FRUIT”, which has been protected by the European Union Intellectual Property Office. The image and trademark “Binh Thuan DRAGON FRUIT” have been registered and agreed to be protected by 13 countries and territories.

A platform for selling carbon credits

Deputy Director of the Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Phan Van Tan, added that the project to build the “Green Dragon Fruit Chain” application for transparent product traceability and responsible production built trust for consumers, establishing competitiveness in the market, QR codes can be scanned to prove the quality and environmental responsibility of processing activities, promoting green and clean development, contributing to implementing smart farming and adapting to climate change.

The system enables real-time tracking and access to up-to-date statistics on carbon emissions, ensuring compliance with emerging carbon border regulatory regimes in demanding export markets.

Since implementation, the traceability system has increased from 50 to 270 hectares, attracting 190 households to practice green methods in Binh Thuan’s dragon fruit supply chain. By the end of 2023, more than 8,500 hectares of dragon fruit, corresponding to more than 23,000 tonnes of dragon fruit, have been monitored for carbon emissions.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, by 2023, the traceability system will also analyse and provide solutions to reduce carbon emissions in the production and transportation of agricultural products. Switching from compact light bulbs to LED lights has helped reduce emissions from electricity use by up to 68%. When consumers use a traceability system, they can learn the exact CO2 equivalent level/kg of fruits.

If the environment is clean and dragon fruit can still sell carbon credits, farmers will protect the living environment towards sustainable development. Besides, the State also needs to further research the production of organic fertiliser from grass and dragon fruit branches, as well as support, encourage, and create loan capital for farmers to have easy and convenient access to invest in infrastructure for green production. In addition, international organisations providing capital support is also an advantage to access international units that need to buy carbon credits.

Source: Smart farming model adapts to climate change | Nhan Dan Online