Today is the International Day of Forests - 21 March. Fittingly our Forestry expert Tony Bartlett is in Vietnam today, checking on the progress of the Son tra trees in our project there. Son tra trees produce a yellowy-green fruit and are still in the early days of domestication.
The Son tra tree is an indigenous fruit tree species growing around the Himalayas. The trees grow in areas populated by the H’mong people in north-west Vietnam, leading to the local name ‘Hmong apple’.
Sweet fruit is used for juice and sour fruit makes wine. Tony says ‘the project is helping farmers plant improved quality Son tra trees where the trees have been selected to produce quality sweet or sour fruit.'
‘Ethnic minority women (H’mong) benefit from selling shan tea and fruit and also from employment in local factories where these products are being processed’ say Tony. ‘And the income that can be earned by selling fruit from one Son tra tree in one year is enough for the farmer to purchase a new motor bike.’
Fruit production from this indigenous tree is going well. But that is only one small part of our agroforestry project. Our work with these trees also aims to increase the productivity of associated crop and livestock systems, leading to more diverse and sustainable production systems as well as better income from the tree products.
Up in the high village of Toa Tinh, project staff from the Forest Science Centre of north-west Vietnam introduced Son tra trees, as well as a fodder grass system. Small household farms can lose cattle during winter weather. Last year more than 10 cattle died during heavy snow.
So the Toa Tinh family farmers are enthusiastic about our agroforestry system because the grass provided enough fodder for their cattle to survive snow storms and the Son tra has begun fruiting after only 2.5 years.
The project team and farmers with our improved Son tra trees
'This agroforestry project is helping farmers in north-west Vietnam to improve the resilience and sustainability of their farming systems by incorporating a variety of locally appropriate trees,’ Tony says.
‘Forests and trees outside forests provide important environmental functions and also transform people’s lives.’
Read more on our project
Agroforestry for livelihoods of smallholder farmers in north-western Vietnam