On the first day of July, we drove over Kim Quy pass to Chi Du Nghia village (A Luoi district) to visit models of semi-intensive cow farming. We followed Mr. Tran Van Xay (37 years old) when he took cows out of the cow barn to find more grass on field. On the grass scented grazing land at the early morning, he, the farmer, had been raising cows and telling us about the new excitement after getting loans from the livelihood development fund.
In the time of impossible to borrow enough five hundred thousand dongs to take my child to the hospital
Mr. Xay, like so many farmers of Huong Nguyen commune, always wonders: What trees to plant? What to raise? Where is the capital to develop livelihoods, to raise children? He seems to be so strong with a strong physique, not tall, tanned skin and smiling eyes, but has to be teary when remembering those hard days. “On 29th December, 2013 (Lunar Year), I had just got married at that time. My first daughter had a high fever and febrile seizures at night. I did not have the minimum amount of money, five hundred thousand dongs, to take her to the hospital in case of emergency. I had to go around to borrow from relatives and neighbors but none of them had enough money.”
From the pain of borrowing money for taking care of children when they were sick, Mr. Xay built up his mind to change his life by sticking with the garden, learning good things from the others. However, he failed, chicken died because of epidemics and rice was not in full blossom because of his lack of techniques.
Hope from the livelihood development fund
In October 2018, the project “Strengthening the capacity for forest resources and biodiversity conservation associated with sustainable livelihood development for ethnic minorities living near Saola Nature Reserve” disbursed its community livelihood development funds. Mr Xay has boldly applied for a loan of 10 million dongs.
Mr. Xay said that the selection of doing the cow breeding model was because “My house does not have much land for cultivation. I have only one acre to grow grass so I think raising cows is suitable for my family conditions.” With 10 million dongs, he collected more money to build cow barn and buy cows. The couple were consulted and onsite trained by experts from the Center for Rural Development in the Central Vietnam (CRD) in every stage from selecting the breeding cows, preventing epidemics, growing grass, building barn to taking care of cow’s growth. After nearly a year, cows of 126 kg are now getting fat, grow well and are about to enter the breeding period.
Mr. Xay firmly admitted that without the project funded by Global Environment Fund – Small Project Programme (GEF-SGP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the implementation of A Luoi district Union, his family was far from able to get loans from other sources because of high interest rates while lower of the livelihood development funds.
Mr. Nguyen Van Kiem, party secretary of the commune and director of the community livelihood development fund said that the fund has a total amount of 280 million dong and criteria for beneficiary households were strict. 28 pioneer households were selected to grant a loan of 10 million VND each and 30% of the capital must be from their reciprocal capital. A cow varies from 12 to 15 million dong. As a result, 19 of the households implementing semi-intensive cattle farming model have increased their herd after a short time. With preferential interest rates of 0.4%/month, monthly interest and principal payments become a lever to raise income for forest-dependent people.
“In the near future, if a cow breeds a calf, I still want to raise more cows, grow more grass enough for feeding cows in the cold winter.” Mr. Xay shared his thoughts with a cheerful face of a farmer who is eager to escape poverty.