Jun 29, 2021 3 min read

Dutch consultancy helps Mekong Delta farmers switch to sustainable agriculture

Dutch consultancy helps Mekong Delta farmers switch to sustainable agriculture
Aerial view of the Mekong delta in vietnam. Photo: Vu Minh Cao/Deltafly

Resource-intensive practices made farming environmentally and financially unsustainable for rice farmers of the Mekong Delta. With a blend of varied data, Nelen & Schuurmans, a Netherlands-based company that offers technology-based solutions in the water sector, has turned the practices of the farmers around.

The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam plays a crucial role in the country’s economy. Vietnam produces 5% of the global rice market. Most of this rice is produced in the Mekong Delta region, known as the rice bowl of Vietnam. About 70% of the rice from Mekong is exported, which accounts for 90% of the country’s rice export.

However, the 1.5 million small holder farmers in the delta region have been severely impacted by climate-induced drought and salinity. Lack of access to markets make them more vulnerable. In addition, the farming practices are resource-intensive and are detrimental to the environment.

To help these small holder farmers shift towards efficient and sustainable rice production, Nelen & Schuurmans, a Netherlands-based water management consultancy, has been providing them with IT-enabled data services.

Rice farmers in the Mekong Delta. Photo: Ruud Grim

Facilitating sustainable farming

Recognising the role that data could play in helping the farmers of Mekong Delta, Nelen & Schuurmans developed a geo-information service that combines satellite data, geodata and field data. The company’s long involvement in the delta in the past helped it develop the service named Sat4Rice with ease.

Loc Troi Group, an agricultural products and services company, believed that technology was the corner stone for sustainable rice production, and collaborated with Nelen & Schuurmans. With inputs from Farmer Friends, who are field extension officers of Loc Troi, the company developed Sat4Rice.

Processed satellite image showing different rice growth stages.

With the help of pictures of the rice fields taken by a satellite every week, and field data acquired by the Farmer Friends during their fortnightly visit to the farms, the Sat4Rice app helps the Farmer Friends advise farmers.

The Sat4Rice advisory service helps more than 50,000 rice framers of the Mekong Delta optimise farm input and water use. The minimal use of resources helps farmers save on expenses.

In addition to helping farmers on optimal use of resources, Sat4Rice’s information helps other stakeholders in the supply chain. The app’s real-time information on the harvest date, expected tonnage of harvest, etc. from each farm, benefits post-harvest logistics, and thus the farmers’ access to market.

Software platforms

The efficient use of Sat4Rice, which is built on geodata platform named Lizard, has led to Vietnam’s rice farmers turn sustainable. This scalable digital service has enabled Nelen & Schuurmans to provide similar services across the globe, demonstrating that data can help solve the world’s pressing climate, environmental, economic and humanitarian challenges.

Just as in Mekong Delta, Nelen & Schuurmans supports others with informed decision making through inhouse software solutions Lizard and 3Di Water Management. Lizard is a geodata and analytics platform that stores big time series, raster and vector data-sets to create insights with geoblocks or data tools and application programming interfaces (APIs). Lizard can be used as a back-end to build one’s own application or present observations through online portals and dashboards.

3Di Water Management is the company’s cutting edge hydrodynamic simulation software. With an integral approach of the water system, it models single and two-dimensional groundwater flow. It allows interaction with simulations and connect to the calculation core.

With the effective use of technology and data, Nelen & Schuurmans facilitates resource efficiency in the water sector, to attain its mission of shaping a healthy, safe and resilient environment around the globe.

How information services contribute to a resilient livnig environment
Joep Janssen
Joep Janssen
Founder and editor-in-chief Nextblue
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