Settled in the vibrant Dong Thap Province of Vietnam, Cao Lanh City finds itself in the heart of the fertile Mekong Delta. Cao Lanh benefits from the proximity to essential water sources provided by the Tien River’s waterways, which is crucial for the city’s agricultural activities. Cao Lanh City has established itself as a hub for clean and sustainable mango cultivation due to its advantageous geographic location, which is supported by the region’s ideal tropical monsoon climate.
Like many other regions, Cao Lanh City used to rely on the use of environmentally damaging products and procedures in its farming processes. However, recognizing the urgency to address these issues, Cao Lanh City took proactive steps to shift into sustainable agriculture and implemented an innovative clean mango production system based on the Vietnam Good Agricultural Practice (VietGAP) standards, as explained by Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tuan, the Vice Head of Cao Lanh City’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, and Mrs. Le Thi Hong Hue, the Vice Head of Cao Lanh City’s Department of Economics:
“In the past, [Cao Lanh] mangoes were commonly grown using excessive chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and weed killers. There was also a tendency to use substances to stimulate off-season and out-of-season flowering and fruiting, despite the negative impact on consumers and the environment. To combat these issues, our clean mango growing program focuses on organic [method of] production to enhance the value of our products, meet consumer demands, and protect the environment. We have reduced the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to only when necessary, contributing to ecological preservation, reducing climate-affecting gas emissions, and ensuring a longer shelf life for harvested agricultural products.”
Today, Cao Lanh City has emerged as a frontrunner in sustainable agriculture through its innovative clean mango production system, as more farmers recognize the importance of balancing productivity with environmental considerations, as shared by Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tuan and Mrs. Le Thi Hong Hue:
“[Cao Lanh’s farmers] have become increasingly aware of the numerous benefits that organic fertilizers offer for plant growth. By reducing the reliance on inorganic fertilizers, they’re witnessing remarkable improvements in plant health and productivity. Not only does this approach alleviate pest pressures, but it also reduces costs and the need for pesticides.
We’re also embracing cutting-edge technologies in agricultural production, such as water-saving techniques, smartphone-controlled drip irrigation, and innovative software like FaceFarm for efficient farm management. Additionally, we’re leveraging online platforms like Zalo, Facebook, Voso, and Posmart.vn to introduce and sell our products. It’s a holistic approach that combines traditional knowledge with modern advancements.”
According to Mr. Le Quang Trang, the Vice Chairman of the Cao Lanh City People Committee, this sustainable mango production plan is part of the city’s effort to contribute to Vietnam’s larger goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 through reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“We [Cao Lanh] have set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 9% by 2030. We are committed to contributing to Vietnam’s goals outlined in the Country Report on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and our participation in the COP26 Conference, aiming for net emissions of ‘zero’ by 2050.”
The development of solar-powered irrigation systems for mango farms is a vital component of the clean mango production system. This approach replaces the traditional reliance on fossil fuel-powered grid electricity or diesel-powered generators, both of which are prone to power outages and high operational costs, not to mention the environment impact. By shifting to solar energy, the city can reduce carbon emissions while ensuring reliable water supply for the crops, making this action one of Cao Lanh City’s key steps to a greener future. In addition to embracing solar energy, Cao Lanh City has also adopted VietGAP’s policies and regulations, which advocate for safe and sustainable agricultural practices. These standards cover a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from crop cultivation to post-harvest handling, environmental management, and social responsibility. They also provide detailed guidelines and protocols for farmers to follow in their agricultural practises, and when farmers comply with the VietGAP standards, their farms will receive the prestigious VietGAP logo, symbolising their dedication to high-quality environmentally friendly production.
Circular agriculture is another fundamental principle embraced by Cao Lanh City in its sustainability philosophy. Farmers and city government actively participate in practices such as reducing chemical inputs, improving soil health, and curbing greenhouse gas emissions, all of which serves to minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency. This commitment to circular agriculture is further strengthened through strategic land use planning, which aligns with clean cultivation and cropping techniques.
Furthermore, the government of Cao Lanh City has played a crucial role in cultivating an enabling environment for sustainable mango production. Farmers receive comprehensive training programs to ensure compliance with VietGAP standards, enabling them to produce safe and high-quality mangoes while minimizing ecological impact. City leaders also engage in regular meetings with local farmers, promoting open communication and addressing any of their concerns. These circular agriculture initiatives are not limited to the agricultural sector alone; they are also promoted to the wider public and other industries as a sustainable production solution.
As such, the local government is actively working alongside cities, farmers, and other stakeholders to embrace sustainable farming practices, fostering a stronger and more environmentally conscious agricultural sector, as described by Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tuan and Mrs. Le Thi Hong Hue:
“Every year, we [Cao Lanh] develop an annual plan that addresses the production and business needs of Cooperatives, Assembly Halls, [farmer] groups, and registered garden houses. This plan is supported by funding from the city budget for agricultural extension purposes. Throughout the implementation process, we conduct [information] sessions, training programs, and seminars to educate stakeholders on effective planting and harvesting techniques, as well as the demands of the consumer market.”
Mr. Le Quang Trang emphasized how Cao Lanh’s membership in the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) has empowered the city to tap into a global network of expertise, inspiring the city to pursue advanced agricultural technologies and systems to enhance efficiency. Additionally, Mr. Le Quang Trang also highlights how GCoM’s expert guidance and support have enabled them to develop effective strategies in Cao Lanh’s Climate Action Plan to secure financial assistance for initiatives that will strengthen the city’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and climate resilience.
The clean mango growing production system has had a good impact on Cao Lanh City’s economic landscape, with 3,496 hectares of mango plantations dispersed over the city. This effort has not only generated employment opportunities for locals but has also attracted tourists and improved the city’s export prospects. The success of the system has boosted growth not only in the mango agriculture sector but also in other industries such as hospitality, transportation, and retail. By prioritising eco-friendly practices, Cao Lanh City sets an inspiring example for regions striving towards sustainable agriculture and a greener future. The journey towards sustainability requires collaboration, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to balancing productivity and environmental stewardship. Through their dedication, Cao Lanh City is shaping a future where agriculture thrives hand in hand with nature, creating a harmonious and prosperous ecosystem for generations to come.
Written by: Devina Angelica Larosa
Reviewed by: Asih Budiati