Written by Nguyen Xuan Quyen, CNO, Heifer Vietnam | Information by Nguyen Thanh Binh, RPM, Heifer Vietnam | Photos by Nguyen Ngoc Thach, RPM, Heifer Vietnam
Heifer Vietnam celebrated its 25th anniversary at the annual project partner meeting. A total of 27 project partners from 27 provinces in Vietnam attended the event, which was held July 26-27, 2012. Attendees watched a video clip highlighting Heifer Vietnams major events and successes since 1987. The successes were made possible by the contributions of many different elements, particularly project partners, who have enthusiastically accompanied Heifer Vietnam from the beginning to current developments. Through the clip, Heifer Vietnam expressed its sincere gratitude towards project partners for their persistent devotion to and cooperation with Heifer projects, poor farmers and communities.
Dang This Doan Trang, Country Director of Heifer Vietnam, reported on the work of fiscal year 2012. The total matching budget from project partners was $708,900, or 39% of the project budget. This past year marked a year of many new accomplishments, such as five matching projects, which is a high, an increased numbers of original beneficiaries by 1,480, and receiving merit and recognition from local authorities for endeavors against poverty and hunger. Heifer Vietnam and its project partners have successfully submitted quality and timely progress and financial reports, and have mobilized external resources from local authorities to support the most needy families in the project.
In order to achieve such improvements, Heifer Vietnam strengthened and improved inputs such as training, animals and collective project activities. Many challenges still exist due unstable market prices and little direct access to the markets. Some of the top priorities for next fiscal year include a continued focus on projects in the Mekong Delta region, especially in terms of the number of projects and beneficiaries, more types of animals, speeding up the progress of Passing on the Gift®, more matching opportunities, enhancing capacity of the Project Management Board (PMB), forming cooperatives, promoting more integrated farming models, and more. Dr. Nguyen Ngoc De, Chairman of the Advisory Committee, led a presentation on the current value chain of rice and beef cattle in the Mekong Delta as well as the feasible intervention of Heifer Vietnam to improve the chain.
After the report presentation, many project partners reiterated the effective impacts of the projects on farmers, communities and local authorities. They also shared constructive opinions and useful experiences in managing the projects. Pham Quoc Hung, project holder of Heifer Long An, shared his experience in empowering the community. The farmers are no longer dependent on the support of the government. The project has been impactful and they are heading toward self-reliance. The local partners understand their roles to provide timely and appropriate support by monthly reports to the PMB. The PMB also has follow-up actions such as regular meetings, household visits with Self-Help Groups, community facilitators exchanging consultancy and resolutions to problems if they come up.
Truong Van Quang, a member of Advisory Committee and Deputy Director of the Department of Cooperatives and Rural Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, remarked, According to this report, the project scale of 400 families is equivalent to one production group. Therefore, it is easy for Heifer Vietnam to form production groups with legal entities and develop them into cooperatives. Heifers Not a cup, but a cow has become a model for other poverty alleviation programs to follow and adapt.