The Mekong Organics was established in 2018 to provide a knowledge platform linking organic agriculture, ecological farming and agrobiodiversity movements in the Mekong Region and Australia. The platform was initiated by Dr Van Kien Nguyen, a research fellow on agroecology from the Fenner School of Environment & Society, the Australian National University and Research Center for Rural Development of An Giang University. Following receipt of the Rod May Award funded by NASAA (National Association of Sustainabe Agriculture Australia) for contributions to organic agriculture, Kien participated in the 2017 congress of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) in New Delhi India, November 2017. Dr Kien says that Rod May, and the opportunity of participating in the congress helped inspire him to promote an organic agriculture movement for Vietnam and other Mekong countries, as well as linking these with Australian organic agriculture.
The key aim of Mekong Organics is linking organic agriculture, nutrition and health using a mutidisciplinary approach for improving well being of people in the Mekong region by translating science into policies and practices.
Kien received two Australian Award Scholarships (AAS) to undertake his Master course in Environmental Management & Development (2005-2006) and PhD in Sociology (2008-2012) at the Australian National University (ANU). He received the Luc Hoffmann Institute (LHI) Research Fellowship to undertake a 2 year postdoctoral research on sustainable rice based farming systems at the ANU. Kien is the pioneer to promote the conservation of floating rice based agroecological farming systems in the Mekong Region.
Kien joined National Association of Sustaianble Agriculture Australia (NASAA) in 2017 and Canberra Organic Growers Society (COGS) in 2018 as a member. He is also affilicated with Organic Agriculture Association (OAA) in Bairnsdale, Victoria, Australia. He is developing a network of organic growers, researchers, NGOs and research institutions working in organic agriculture movement in Australia, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, China, the Phillipines, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, USA, UK, Switzerland, India, Iran, and Netherland.
Kien’s initiation of the Mekong Organics Platform was supported by co-founder, Dr Daniel Gilfillan. Daniel has experience establishing socially responsible programs and organisations in Southeast Asia. He is keenly interested in sustainable and organic agriculture, and the role it plays in people’s health and well-being. By identifying and working with organic entrepreneurs in the Mekong, and by linking them with Australian organic farmers, Kien and Daniel are hoping to accelerate the development of organic agriculture in the Mekong region.
Mr Nguyen Hoang Han grew up in Thien Nhon hamlet, Thuan Hung commune, My Tu district, Soc Trang province in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. He graduated with a BSc (Biotechnology) degree from An Giang University, Vietnam. Han is used to work at the Cuu Long Rice Research Institute (CLRR) as a plant breeder, focusing on rice breeding for several years. In 2009, he was awarded a Master scholarship from the Mekong 1000 Scholarship program of Vietnamese Government to a undertake a Master course in Molecular Plant Breeding (rice) and Pathology at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands. He did internship at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Germany before completing his MSc degree in August 2011. Han returned to his home province (Soc Trang province, in the Mekong Delta) to work at Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. He specialized on plant cultivation and pest management at Sub-Department of Plant Protection. Han is now a second year PhD candidate at Charles Sturt University, Australia. His research is investigating the integrative responses of crop to subsoil acidity ameliorated by organic and inorganic amendments. Han joins to the Mekong Organics to advise farmers on the interaction between soil microbiology and plants and to translate organic agriculture materials into Vietnamese.
Photo: Mr. Nguyen Hoang Han
Kien Huong Pham graduated Bsc in teaching English for non-speaking english speakers from Can Tho University. She involved with teaching professional english for agriculture students at Faculty of Agriculture & Natural Resources Management of An Giang University (AGU, Vietnam) from 2002 to 2005. She also involved in social research survey for several international research projects about agriculture & rural development at AGU. Huong then undertook Diploma of community services work at Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), Certificate IV in Frontline Management at CIT, and Master of Social Work at Australian Catholic University (ACU). Now she is working in community services sector in Canberra region, Australia. She loves growing and cooking organic foods. She will involve with the Mekong Organics to support food, nutrition and health for communities.
Photo: Mrs. Kien Huong Pham
Minh Phuc Tran graduated BSc in economics from Can Tho University in 2001. He has been working for Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in Mekong Delta for 5 years: 2001-2006, to 1) assist small and medium enterprises to improve capacity competition and export; 2) provide data and market information for local enterprises, 3) business matchmaking activities, and 4) conduct training and activities to encourage starting business. From 2008-2009, he undertook Master of International and Development Economics at Crawford School of Public Policies, the Australian National University (ANU), under Australia Award Scholarships (AAS). He has involved with CARE International for 3 years (2010-2013) to coordinate the project entitled “Financial security for poor people in Long An province, Mekong Delta”. His roles were 1) advising saving methodology to enhance financial status for poor women groups and 2) providing skills for poor people to operate income generation activities to improve the standard of living. From 2014 to 2015, Phuc involved with the United Development Program (UNDP) as the role of project technical coordinator for the project entitled “Support to multidimensional poverty reduction in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.” Phuc joined Canberra Organic Grower Society (COGS) in 2018. Phuc will involve with the Mekong Organics Platform to support economic and market research and development for organic products by linking farmers to organic market.
Photo: Mr. Minh Phuc Tran
Alan Broughton has been involved with Organic Agriculture Association (OAA) since 1985 in various roles including editor and education officer, and currently the vice president of OAA in Bairsdale in East Gippsland, Victoria Region, Australia. He wrote Australia's first organic farming diploma course and taught it for 15 years. He worked for nine years until retirement for Australian Landscape Trust at an organic beef farm doing research into grazing management and soil carbon sequestration. Other jobs included nursery work, gardening grounds and bouts at fruit picking, shop assistant work and uploading goods trains. Alan has written and contributed to several books and has produced over 100 articles on biological agriulture and rural issues. Alan has been to organic farms in Cuba, Thailand, Tanzania, Uganda, Italy and South Korea. He will involve with the Mekong Orgnaics as principal research advisor and organic agriculture educator.
Mr Le Ngoc Hiep, a lecturer of food science, nutrition and public health at the Department of Food Technology, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources, An Giang University. He graduated BSc in Food technology with first-class honours from An Giang University. In 2015, Hiep was awarded a Master of Science in Public Health & Nutrition at Flinders University, Australia funded by Australia Award Scholarships (AAS). He received several research and development grants to study the perceptions of customers, food handlers on food safety, safe vegetables; nutritional status of ethnic minority children (Khmer in An Giang); recycling food waste from local markets and households by using black soldier fly technology to produce animal feed. Hiep will involve with the Mekong Organics to 1) conduct the study on the impacts of organic agriculture on food safety, nutrition and health from different stakeholders (growers, processors, consumers and retailers), 2) advise organic growers set up models to recycle waste of substrate by using black soldier fly and earthworm to produce animal feed, organic fertilisers, 3) provide trainings on output quality control for organic products.
Photo: Mr Le Ngoc Hiep
Pham Tran Lan Phuong is an English teacher at An Giang talent sports school. She received a master degree in urban water governance at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. She involved with Research Center for Rural Development (An Giang University) as an adjunct researcher. Phuong engaged in various international research projects including water governance, resilience to climate change and ecological farming. Phuong involves with the Mekong Organics to translate English materials into Vietnamese and vice versa.
Photo: Mrs Pham Tran Lan Phuong
Mr Nguyen Van Thai is a researcher on social, gender, and water at the Research Center for Rural Development of An Giang University. Thai owns a BSc on Integrated Rural Development from An Giang University, and a MSc in International Development Studies at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Australia in 2016. Thai received several research and development grants to study the roles of gender in water management as the role of Primary Investigator (PI). He also involved in socio-economic studies of ecological rice-based farming systems in the Mekong Delta. Thai involves in the Mekong Organics to share his research and development interest in community-based organic farming.
Photo: Mr. Nguyen Van Thai
Mr Oc Van Vo is currently a research assistant for several international research projects at the Research Centre for Rural Development (RCRD), An Giang University. He received a BSc Rural Development from An Giang University. He has 4 years of experience in working with the RCRD in promoting the floating rice-based farming systems in the Mekong Delta and community resilience to flood program. Oc involves with the Mekong Organics to liaise with local organic growers and facilitate organic events on the ground. Oc was selected by Australia Scholarships Award (AAS) in 2019 intake. He wishes to learn practical skills and knowledge from Australia for solving the local real problems in the Mekong Delta.
Photo: Vo Van Oc
Mr Pham Tan Dat received a BSc in Biology from An Giang University in 2003. He has been tutoring biology for high school and university students for several years before he involved with the agroecological research team at the Research Center for Rural Development (RCRD) of An Giang University in April 2017. In particular, he is studying agro-biodiversity component under the Mitsui’s research grants on “Promoting the floating rice-based agro-ecological farming systems for a healthy society and adaptation to climate changes in the Lower Mekong Region and Myanmar” until March 2019. In 2017, he was awarded an Academic Fellowship to study Environmental Issues and Food Security in East-West Center, United States. Joining with the Mekong Organics, he takes responsibility to research biological pest control and organic pesticides on vegetable crops. He also facilitates the organic training for farmers. Dat wishes to improve farmer's livelihood in Mekong Delta through organic agriculture development and agro-biodiversity conservation.
Photo: Pham Tan Dat
Key foundation's activities:
- Share knowledge, skills, practices about global organic agriculture
- Promote scientific research on organic agriculture in the Mekong countries
- Link Australian Organic Agriculture Industry with Vietnam, Mekong countries and Southeast Asia
- Provide platform for farmers, students, private sectors, and government extension staffs to share their organic farming practices
- Provide short trainings for farmers, students, bussiness and local government and community on organic farming practices
- Host local, national, international workshops and regional forums on organic agriculture research and development in the Mekong region
- Organize study tours on organic agriculture in Vietnam and Australia