Tuong and his wife are both 64 years old and live in Luc Nam District in Vietnam. They have seen agriculture change a lot over the years and they have become very worried about the environment in their community with the introduction and increased use of chemicals on the crops.
Using chemical fertilizers and pesticides can be very dangerous when farmers don’t understand how to use them correctly. The potential negative impact is increased by the partially used bags and bottles that are left sitting on the land or thrown into the ditches.
Concentrated amounts of chemicals in the ditches are very dangerous because these ditches are where many farm families get the water to irrigate their crops and wash their vegetables before going to market. The bags and bottles create a lot of litter that clogs the waterways.
Tuong was voted to be the leader in his community at the beginning of 2011. While he was in this position he worked with YWAM Mercy Vietnam on several environmental initiatives.
Between 2013 and 2016 several training meetings were held. Messages were broadcast over the local loudspeaker system teaching the community about the harmful effects of using chemicals on their farms and proper application methods. Education was also provided to make the community aware of the harmful results of leaving chemical bags around their farms and their homes.
Part of this environmental project included creating chemical waste collection tanks in accessible locations near the farmer’s fields.
In July of 2015, YWAM Mercy Vietnam provided the community with the funds to install two tanks. The community was responsible for installing the tanks and teaching the farmers how to use them.
The local farmers got behind the project and asked the community leaders for more tanks.
Six months later Tuong approved building three more tanks with funds from the community’s budget.
There are now five chemical waste collection tanks located around the community and all the farmers have access to the tanks to dispose of unused toxic fertilizers and pesticides as well as their containers.
The waterways and ditches are noticeably cleaner and there is less risk of toxic levels of chemicals being found on vegetables in the market.
Tuong has completed his five year term as community leader and a new leader has been voted in. However, Tuong continues to be part of the environmental management team in his community as they look for other ways to protect their environment.
This community is not only implementing this program on a basic level, but also investing in and growing it locally.
In July 2016 YWAM Mercy Vietnam finished their involvement with this project and turned it over to be wholly community run.
YWAM Mercy Vietnam sees this as an entry-level environmental project. In the future we hope to do more trainings in these agricultural communities to continue to lower the amount of chemicals used on the crops and prevent chemicals from seeping into the land and waterways.
Photo Credit: Sharing Dots