From Vietnam,Trang is an agricultural entrepreneur and co-founder of Fargreen. She shares her story of how she works with farmers to build a more sustainable, and prosperous farming community within Vietnam’s rural areas. She is in the midst of curbing the open burning of rice stalks which causes air pollution which is hazardous to the environment.
Tell us more about Fargreen?
I started Fargreen as my thesis project for my MBA at Colorado State University. I wanted to use a business tool to solve an environmental problem withing farmers in Vietnam.
Why do farmers burn rice straws?
The farmers know its bad for their health, but they have to get rid of the rice straws and opening burning is the quickness and most effective way. If you look at human history we always burn trash, so it becomes a normal thing to do. They have to do this so they can start on another crop, to earn more money. It becomes a normal cycle. They do this not because they have limited knowledge on the consequences, but they have to help themselves first.
The magnitude of the problem is big, ranging from 20-40 million tons of rice straws get burnt every year. Each ton of straw that gets burn, will release 1.5 tons of greenhouse gas, which causes smoke and very fine ash particles that can travel down to your lungs causing respiratory distress.
What are the affects of rice straw burning on the health of local farmers and the environment?
Respiratory problems is very common in Vietnam, and we have the highest rate of respiratory distress among new borns and adults. This is cause by the inhaling of smoke in the atmosphere. The burning will usually last between 1-2 months per harvest.
How does Fargreen help farmers earn a more consistent income?
With mushrooms we have all year crops, unlike rice which is only harvested twice a year. With mushrooms they can harvest every month, so it creates a consistent income. We collect the straws and we use the straws for a growing kit and we bring it to their home, and create a separate small space to grow mushrooms. The idea is that they can still grow rice, while growing the mushrooms.It also create s a 50% increase in income for each farmer. So it becomes a very attractive model. Over the past 3 years we have removed over 80 tons of straws, the equivalent of about 100 tons of green houses gases. Fargreen buys back the mushrooms from the farmers, so they get a guaranteed profit each month.
About Marriot Hotels and TED
The ongoing global partnership between Marriott Hotels and TED is now in its second year, following its launch in 2016 and has been expanded to include more exciting and innovative programming at Marriott Hotels in key destinations worldwide. Marriott Hotels is a brand that’s geared towards a new generation of travelers, who continuously seek fresh inspirations and creative ideas during their own life-changing journeys around the world.
“It was a pleasure to spark a conversation between innovative influencers and being able to share ideas on how to support Women in Innovation,” said Peggy Fang Roe, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Asia-Pacific, Marriott International.
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