Ali Kuchel, Stock Journal 13 February 2018
ADELAIDE’s Vietnamese farmers will soon be equipped with bilingual information sheets and videos to help their understanding about water consumption, thanks to a Community Natural Resource Management Action Grant.
With 70 per cent of the Vietnamese farmers relying on the Vietnamese language to understand protocols and information, the VFA will implement the new material this month, aiming to sustain water management resources.
VFA executive assistant Ly Le said the project was first discussed nine months ago after a number of farmers were fined for excessive water usage.
“We realised there is a lack of communication (about water) and we want our farmers to be able to come and ask questions if they do not understand anything about water usage,” Mr Le said.
“Even though a lot of the farmers don’t speak English very well, they understand that the environment is very important and biosecurity is very important, and those two elements help sustain businesses.”
Mr Le said the association planned to collaborate with Mount Lofty and Adelaide Hills NRM to deliver the content to farmers, and members of the community who were not sure about water allocations were welcome to attend.
He said on average, the Vietnamese farmers paid about $10,000 to $15,000 for irrigation water annually, depending on the number of greenhouses they had in operation, but sometimes resorted to using mains water if there were not adequate water supplies.
They will look at how to read water meters, the benefits of water licence transfers, licensing agreements and how to avoid penalties.
The association plans to create videos, filmed in Vietnamese by the farmers, so any new farmers relocating to the area or starting a business could understand water usage from day one in their own language.
The VFA has a workforce of about 5000 people, operating across 1000 farms in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.
Each year, the farmers produce about 80 per cent of SA’s continental cucumbers, along with tomatoes, eggplants, herbs and flowers.
Some farms are a fraction of a hectare, but others utilise upwards of 15 greenhouses to grow fresh produce.
The VFA – a not-for-profit organisation – was one of 25 community groups that shared nearly $110,000 of funding for projects to enhance and protect their local environment.
NRM AMLR district manager Tony Fox said the VFA project would bring significant benefits to farmers by improving farm productivity and reducing grower costs.
“It will also provide sustainability of the Northern Adelaide Plains’ groundwater resource and reducing impact on soil conditions,” he said. “Groundwater is the major source of water for irrigation on the NAP.”
Irrigation knowledge is crucial
LOCATED in Penfield Gardens, Dung Huynh grows 20,000 kilograms of Truss tomatoes a year under the Vietnamese Farmers Association.
He uses a combination of bore water and recycled water from the Bolivar wastewater treatment plant, pumping about 13 megalitres each year onto his one-hectare property.
But last season, Mr Huynh was issued a fine for exceeding his bore water allowance limit.
Mr Huynh welcomed the funding from the Community Natural Resource Management Action Grants and said if the farmers could further understand water entitlements and prices, it would help them cut back on unexpected costs as well as helping the environment.
“It is an excellent idea if we can make the project for everyone and then the price of water will be lower and be available to all farmers,” he said.
VFA executive assistant Ly Le said the project would allow farmers to take their horticulture businesses to the next level.
Links to Farmer’s Talks created at the end of 2018 from the grant: