Thirty-one special and early childhood education teachers and community learning centre (CLC) educators in Vietnam completed a training course on urban agriculture on 16-19 October 2018 at the Nong Lam University (NLU) in Ho Chi Minh. The in-country training was a collaboration among BIOTROP, SEAMEO Regional Centre for Special Education Needs (SEN), SEAMEO Regional Centre for Lifelong Learning (CELLL) and NLU.
In general, the training course was designed to enable the school teachers and community learning centre educators to acquire basic knowledge and skills on specific agricultural production technologies appropriate for urban application to benefit their students and their families as well as their communities.
NLU President, Prof Dr Nguyen Hay, welcomed the participants during the opening program. He said that his univesity is honored to collaborate with three different SEAMEO Centres hosted by three national governments, namely: Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. He thanked BIOTROP for initiating the implementation of the training as part of its Memorandum of Understanding with NLU.
In opening the training course, BIOTROP Deputy Director for Program Dr Jess Fernandez emphasized that urban agriculture is already a worldwide trend to help address issues confronting urban areas in terms of livelihood, health, and environment. He opined that urban agriculture could help create a much greener environment, promote household and community food safety and security, contribute to healthy living, and help develop a more self-reliant citizenry for their daily needs.
“BIOTROP proposed to implement this training in Vietnam because we believe that Vietnamese families, like any other families in Southeast Asia, living in urban areas also desire to be self-sufficient in terms of their food sources as well as to enable the members of their families with disabilities to be useful and productive,” Dr Fernandez added. He also quoted Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture Trinh Dinh Dung emphasizing the need to promote agriculture to contribute to food security and sustainable development in our region during his opening speech at the 40th ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) meeting in Hanoi on 11 October 2018.
Acting Directors of SEAMEO SEN and SEAMEO CELLL, Dr Safani Baru and Ms Vu Lan Chi, respectively also delivered their messages on behalf of their respective Centres during the opening program. Both of them expressed their thanks to BIOTROP and NLU for organizing the training and encouraged the participants to learn as much from it.
During the 4-day training, the participants received lectures and practical exercises on the following topics: (1) Overview of Urban Agriculture, (2) Hydroponic Production of Fruits and Vegetables, (3) Container Gardening, (4) Composting, (5) Application of Internet of Things in Agriculture, (6) The Roles of Schools and Community Learning Centres in Developing Life Skills Among Communities and Children with Special Needs, and (7) Approaches to Teach Agri-based Skills to Children with Disabilities. The participants also visited the Agri Hi-Tech Research and Development Centre of Ho Chi Minh at Cu Chi District to observe other production technologies such as vertigation, tissue culture propagation, mushroom cultivation, and aquaculture production.
As a training requirement, the participants produced group action plans, i.e., one each from the early childhood and special education teachers and three from the CLC educators. The special education teachers proposed to implement a microgreen production while the early childhood education teachers planned to create green classrooms for their students. The three groups of CLC educators proposed to implement an urban agriculture project consisting of hydroponic production, verticulture gardening, and composting and waste segregation in their respective CLCs.
NLU Faculty of Agronomy Dean Dr Vo Thai Dan, in his closing remarks, encouraged the participants to continue the networking that they have established with each other and with the resource persons during the course.
The training was the third offering of BIOTROP. The first was conducted in March 2016 at BIOTROP headquarter in Bogor while the second was held in August 2017 in Kuala Lumpur in collaboration with SEAMEO SEN and the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI). The training now has 93 alumni from Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam consisting of vocational, early childhood and special education teachers and CLC educators.
The training was coordinated by Dr Fernandez and NLU International Affairs Director Dr Nguyen Ngoc Thuy.