Session on Salinity during the NL Economic Mission to Vietnam

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Session on Salinity during the NL Economic Mission to Vietnam: Sweet Solutions for Salty Challenges

Between 18-21 March, Babette Bodlaender from the Netherlands Food Partnership joined the NL economic mission to Vietnam, under the leadership of Ingrid Thijssen from VNO-NCW and Ministers Mark Harbers and Minister van der Wal.

The trade mission convened 140 partners from logistics, water, and agrifood sectors, organizing three distinct programs tailored to the specific needs and opportunities of each sector. The Mekong Delta Business Forum served as the culminating event.

During the Mekong Delta Business Forum, Babette Bodlaender moderated the session 'Sweet Solutions for Salty Challenges,' featuring insightful contributions from panelists Nien Dang Van, representing RijkZwaan, Kim Thanh NGUYEN from@Kim Delta), Ngoc Bich Tran Thi from Tra Vinh University, and Peter Prins Land Water Food Consultant. Discussions centered on the impact of salinity in the Mekong Delta, exploring integrated approaches and potential solutions.

Topics included the Mekong Delta plan and existing policies and integrated approaches addressing salinity, which threatens food security in the region. Rijkzwaan emphasized the role of seed companies in developing salt-tolerant varieties and underscored the need for government support for investments in greenhouses and irrigation systems. 

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Thanh from Kim Delta shared the story of Mr. Bay Don, a local farmer grappling with salinity challenges, highlighting the importance of individual action and community support.

"Mr. Bay Don, already a prominent figure in his community, experienced a significant loss of crops due to saltwater intrusion in 2016 and 2020. To combat this, he took proactive measures by constructing his own dike to fend off saltwater, purchasing fresh water from Vinh Long for irrigation, and maintaining grass in his orchard to preserve moisture. Additionally, he collected rainwater for household consumption, a practice upheld for years during the dry season. He has done well, and other growers look up at him. . What sets him apart is his belief that salt intrusion is not solely a government concern but rather his own, compelling him to take action based on his years of experience cultivating fruit trees in arid conditions. Not many farmers are like Mr Bay Don. My point here is that we need rural communities with champions like Mr Bay Don, dare to own problems and seek help."

The session concluded with a call for an integrated approach encompassing mitigation and adaptation strategies, linking short-term actions with long-term visions. This approach involves all stakeholders, including government bodies, knowledge institutes, local communities, and businesses.

The exchange highlighted the mutual learning opportunities for the Netherlands and Vietnam as both face similar challenges as delta countries—a focus area that the Saline Water & Food Systems Partnership by NWP (Netherlands Water Partnership) and Netherlands Food Partnership is dedicated to addressing.


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Babette Bodlaender

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