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Model farmers - awards for outstanding achievements


Model scientist from India

Photo credits: Suthep Charoenbutr.

Dr Tarannum Kadarbhai is a model scientist from Baramati block in the Pune district of central western India, close to Bombay. This articulate and colorful 39-year-old woman is filled with energy and charisma as she explores how research can better help rural farmers in the field. "My role is to see myself in a farmer's position, to imagine what she or he would need next," says Dr Kadarbhai.

For more than 16 years, Dr Kadarbhai has been helping Indian farmers by training them about current technology in order to increase their production, productivity, and income from agriculture and allied sectors on a sustained basis. Dr Kadarbhai has a background in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, but desired to focus on agriculture. In the state of Maharashtra she is the only female training organizer at the district level farm science center - Krishi Vigyan Kendra - established by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in New Delhi. Dr Kadarbhai describes the center as a one-stop-shop for farmers. Her department also runs the first FM radio center dedicated to agriculture in Asia, supported by the World Bank. The center also has an award-winning bilingual website for farmers.

Dr Kadarbhai is especially proud of the establishment of 85 farmer's clubs in Baramati - some of them are exclusively rural women's clubs, she says.

"Most of the work in agriculture is done by women," Dr Kadarbhai notes. "Their role is never credited or identified. We try to empower women with different technologies: vermicomposting, zero energy cooling chambers, nutritional gardens and backyard poultry. These women were never in the picture, they had never crossed the boundaries of their houses, and we made them come forward."

Model livestock and mixed crops farmer from Mongolia

Photo credits: Suthep Charoenbutr.

Rentsen Tsogtbuyan is a tall, broad-shouldered farmer from Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar. A 47-year-old man, he has a gentleness about him that shows when he speaks of his love for his family and farming. He lives in Byanchandman village in Tov province, about 80 kilometers from Mongolia's capital, is married and has two adult children.

"The area where we live is surrounded by mountains, forests and rivers," says Rentsen. "It's one of the most beautiful places in Mongolia. Since we are close to the capital, the roads are good, and the infrastructure is better than the rest of the country which is still rather poor."

Mongolia's economy is traditionally based on herding and agriculture. Mr Tsogtbuyan's work is dedicated to integrated animal husbandry and crop production farming. His harvests are the highest among Mongolian farmers. He works closely with the University of Agriculture to encourage farmers to intensify livestock and crop production. Currently, Mr Tsogtbuyan is working with FAO to increase milk production because milk and dairy products are an important part of Mongolian culture. He also has a company called Montarimal, founded in 1992.

"Before the 1990s, our country was producing about 65 million liters of milk, but this year we are producing only 5.7 million liters," says Mr Tsogbuyan. "We used to export milk, now we are importing it."

One cow from Mr Tsogtbuyan's farm produces 3 300 liters of milk per year compared to the average Mongolian cow which produces 2 200 liters. The reason for this is that his cows are fed additional fodder from his crop farming throughout the winter. Last summer, about 500 farmers visited his farm from 18 other provinces to learn from Mr Tsogbuyan.

Model hill tribe farmer from Thailand

Photo credits: Suthep Charoenbutr.

Kha Taechalertphana is a 41-year-old Hmong hill tribe woman whose family used to grow opium. Today, she is an expert vegetable farmer because of her involvement with Nong Hoi's Royal Project Development Center. This center is part of the Royal Project Foundation - created in 1969 by His Majesty the King of Thailand - to develop agriculture, preserve forests and manage land.

In the Hmong culture, women traditionally do not take leadership positions, but that didn't stop Khun Khaa from becoming chairperson of the Nong Hoi Women's Group at the age of 21 and an active member of Nong Hoi's Vegetable Growing Group since 1984. She drives her own truck, contacts sellers and manages her products. Currently, she grows Chinese spinach, cabbage, lettuce and carrots on 15 rai of land. Using crop rotation and organic production, her farm is certified under the Good Agricultural Practices.

Khun Khaa has devoted herself to helping her family and community. She is often found speaking to young women about her knowledge of farming and life in general. She says the key to her being a successful model farmer is having a husband who gave her the freedom and trust to become more than just a common housewife.

"As a Hmong woman it was very difficult to get my husband to agree to let me learn new skills," she says. "After I attended a lot of training and learned new things, I realized that I could be a leader too."

Model aquaculturist from Vanuatu

Photo credits: Kesara Aotarayakul.

Felix Nguyen hails from Vanuatu, a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Like many people on this island nation, Felix is unique because his father is Vietnamese and his mother is Ni-Vanuatu, the local and dominant ethnic group. Mr Nguyen's father had traveled to the South Pacific islands to work as a coffee and cocoa planter.

"When I was growing up my father told me almost every night that he came to Vanuatu because of hunger, not for the pleasure. He came to work to bring money back to his first family in Viet Nam" says Mr Nguyen.

Today, Mr Nguyen says he doesn't want other people to be hungry. Since 1986, he has been working with the Vanuatu government on fishing projects with rural farmers. He wants to focus on the aquaculture industry to help poor communities on the islands. Today, Mr Nguyen has helped to start fishing projects in inland communities, and is working on the first-ever aquaculture fish farm in Vanuatu alongside FAO officials.

"We have in the sea depleted stocks of fish and shellfish, so the main thing is to move towards aquaculture," says Felix. "Our population is growing very fast, and we have a shortage of fish in the markets. We have so many rivers back in Vanuatu, and no work done on freshwater, so with the help of the South Pacific Commission in New Caledonia, and training from Fiji, I decided to go back and start fish farms."

Mr Nguyen says the purpose of his work is simple: to provide food security for rural communities living on the remote islands of Vanuatu.

Photo credits: Suthep Charoenbutr.

Photo credits: Suthep Charoenbutr.


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