United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Viet Nam Dragon Fruit Orchards Bloom in New Light

A UNEP-GEF project is helping Vietnamese farmers to reduce their environmental impact and their electricity bills

A farmer for more than three decades, 50-year-old Nguyen Minh Cam from Viet Nam's Binh Thuan province earns over 70 per cent of his annual income by cultivating dragon fruit on his two hectare plot.

This Southeast Asian delicacy requires the long daylight hours of summer to blossom and bear fruit. Many Vietnamese farmers rely on artificial lighting during the shorter days of the off season to ensure a year-round harvest and a year-round income.

Minh Cam's family, including his wife and three children who help on the farm, has seen its income increase after they switched to energy efficient lamps on the advice of the local district committee and the Dragon Fruit Research and Development Center in Binh Thuan.

After replacing the incandescent bulbs on his farm with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), Minh Cam's electricity bill came down from about US$660-700 to US$177-220 per lighting session.

His farm is one of sixty dragon fruit plantations in Binh Thuan and Tien Giang provinces that are part of the 'Phasing out Incandescent Lamps through Lighting Market Transformation in Vietnam' project, funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific in partnership with the Vietnamese Institute of Strategy, Policy on Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam.

'The transformation of incandescent lamps to CFLs in growing dragon fruit will help farmers reduce production cost and save electricity, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation in Vietnam,' said Dr Nguyen Trung Thang, Deputy Director General of the Department of Integrated Research at Viet Nam's Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment (ISPONRE).

Local agencies and district committees played a crucial role, addressing dragon fruit farmers' concerns over initial investment costs and the impact of the new lamps on the crop, the ISPONRE official said. With savings of up to US $485 per hectare, the number of dragon fruit farmers using CFLs has increased by 20 per cent.

This change of attitude was shared by the nearly 14,000 families in seven provinces who participated in energy efficient household lighting demonstration projects. For example, in three communes of the Ha Tinh province, all household lighting was replaced with CFLs.

Participation in the project has also benefitted two of Viet Nam's largest lighting manufacturers who were able to improve product quality, heighten staff skills and introduce new technologies. Working with them and supported by a two-year-old ban on the import, production and sale of incandescent lamps with a capacity higher than 60 W, the project aims to transform the country's lighting products market, making it more energy-efficient and climate-friendly.

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