The Kaokainoi rice paddy field farmed by Phonxay’s family is integrated with rice fish.

Lao woman receives model farmer award

Mrs Phonexay Thammavong was recently presented with the  2018 FAO Model Farmer Award for her outstanding achievements after her participation in a season-long Farmer Field School on Save and Grow - Sustainable Intensification of Rice Production (Save & Grow - SIRP), supported within the context of FAO’s Regional Rice Initiative.
After taking part in the Farmer Field School, she was able to increase land productivity while making farming more profitable and sustainable through the more effective management and efficient use of farm inputs and natural resources.
She is now able to grow organic rice which fetches a higher market price. She has also helped other farmers in her community learn about sustainable rice production and integrated farming systems.
Phonexay is now the head of an organic rice production group and has been involved in related activities.
The award recipients for 2018 came from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Laos, the Maldives, Thailand and Vanuatu.
What type of rice and vegetables does she grow? Are the crops grown/cultivated in her hometown?
Phonexay grows “Khao Kai Noi” - a specialty, high quality rice variety - as the main crop in her own paddy fields.
In addition, she has initiated agricultural diversification. She cultivates fish in the rice paddy, grows vegetables for family consumption and sells them in the local market, as well as keeping ducks, chickens, cows and horses. At her homestead, she also farms fish in a pond.
What size area does she farm and is her produce for sale or for family consumption?
Phonexay grows paddy rice on 1.5 hectares but previously she could hardly grow enough rice for her family’s needs.
But since she participated in the Save and Grow Sustainable Intensification of Rice Production Farmer Field School in Horkang village, Phaxay district, Xieng Khuang province, in the wet season of 2015, she has applied Save and Grow techniques and her rice yield has increased by 100-150 percent from 2.6 t/ha-4-5 t/ha.
Many farmers in other places used chemical pesticides and fertiliser. Does Phonexay also use chemicals?
No, Phonexay no longer uses any chemicals in her rice paddy fields or in her vegetable garden. Instead, she applies the knowledge and skills acquired during her participation in the season long Farmer Field School on Save and Grow - SIRP to conserve natural enemies for natural biological control of crop pests, to make compost and use the manure collected from her livestock to fertilise the rice crop. She makes botanical pesticides from available natural resources in the rice landscape for the control of pests and diseases in her rice paddy and vegetable production and protection activities.
Has she ever received a similar award?
No, this is the first time she has been honoured with an award. However, she has received many acknowledgements and appreciation from local authorities such as a Certificate for an Outstanding Youth (2009), Certificate for a Model Family (2015), Certificate for a Criminal Free Family (2015), Certificate 2 Good Woman (2010 and 2011) and Certificate 3 Good Woman (2017).
The FAO-funded Trust Fund Regional Project in the context of FAO’s Regional Rice Initiative has helped build the capacity of the Lao National Integrated Pest Management Programme to implement Farmer Field Schools on Save and Grow for Sustainable Intensification of Rice Production. Farmer training is implemented by Farmer Field School Facilitators/District Agriculture and Forestry Office staff trained by FAO.
They helped provide field-based training for Phonexay and 30 other farmer participants to gain new knowledge and skills for sustainable intensification of rice production.
Studies carried out by the National University of Laos have shown that farmers have adopted the good practices learned in the Farmer Field School on their own farms.
This has resulted in land productivity gains and more profitable farming systems achieved by Farmer Field School Save and Grow SIRP graduate farmers.
The FAO project that supports farmer education/capacity building for Farmer Field School implementation is the FAO Regional Integrated Pest Management and Pesticide Risk Reduction project.
This project is part of the Swedish-supported programme “Towards a Non-Toxic South-East Asia”. The programme will finish at the end of 2018.
At present, how many projects like this are there and since when?
This information is not available, but this FAO project helped establish the Lao National Integrated Pest Management Programme, which began in 1996.
FAO in Laos answered these questions for Vientiane Times.

(Latest Update November 2, 2018)

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