by Bo Xuan Hiep
'Sunny Farm' near HCM City promotes sustainable agriculture
Though his background is in tourism, Nguyen Vu Minh Quan, 35, has always had a great desire to promote sustainable agricultural practices.
Three years ago, his wish became reality after he set up an educational, environmentally-friendly farm on the outskirts of HCM City.
Covering 1.5ha, Sunny Farm, which is 45km from the city centre, offers activities designed for various age groups.
The education model takes participants through six stages of learning, from observation to understanding life fulfillment.
The mission, according to Quan, is to provide a safe playground for children and inspire participants to take action to protect the environment.
After receiving a bachelor's degree in commerce and an MBA in tourism and hospitality, Quan worked for a few years in multinational firms, chiefly in agricultural commodities.
There, he was able to see the potential in combining education, farming and tourism.
"I really want to inspire others to practise sustainable farming so that the environment can be kept for future generations," he said. "Our purpose is to close the gap between humans and nature."
The farm, which has contemporary farming practices, focuses on how to tackle environmental issues like littering, climate change and overuse of harmful fungicides and pesticides.
Depending on the group size and age of participants, the education model delivers different messages through its activities.
"We want to create a model of a clean environment that will inspire participants to take action," he said. "When participants enjoy what they see, harvest and cook, they learn the value and reward of work."
Farmers' lack of education has been the biggest obstacle in acquiring knowledge and keeping up with global changes, according to Quan.
Most Vietnamese farmers, despite their hard work, have had little exposure to market information and consumers.
Because of this, they face difficulties in choosing the optimum volume to produce that will allow them to cope with market demand and maximise their return on investment.
As a consequence, they often suffer losses through poor investment of time and resources.
"Only through interaction and exposure will farmers find the solutions to develop and adapt to change," he said.
Rhino protection campaign kicks off with Nail Biters photo collection
Twenty-six Vietnamese artists have posed for photos in which they are seen biting their nails for a campaign against the use of rhino horn.
Titled Nail Biters, the photo collection is part of a campaign launched by the Viet Nam chapter of the US-based environmental organisation WildAid.
It aims to raise people's awareness of rhino horn usage, and calls for action from the community to protect endangered rhinos.
Based on research that shows rhino horn is mainly made of keratin, a protein that forms nails, the campaign emphasises that it is useless to spend a huge amount of money buying horn that is similar in content to the human nail.
The campaign also includes a contest "The Biting Nails Challenge with Vietnamese Celebrities", which encourages participants to take a photo of themselves or friends biting their nails in a creative way. The photos will be posted on Facebook to spread the campaign's message.
Winners of the contest, which ends on January 31, includes a gala dinner with more than 30 artists as well as gifts.
With its alleged medicinal properties, rhino horn is considered a luxury item in Viet Nam, which has become a major market worldwide for rhino horn. — VNS