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[ROME] Vietnamese agricultural experts will help Chad's farmers ensure food security through a new collaboration.

Under the agreement — coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and signed by representative of both countries last month (26 March)  — Vietnam will send five experts and ten technicians to Chad.

They will live in rural areas over a period of two years, working closely with local farmers and providing know-how on a range of issues, including irrigation, growing rice, traditional fishing and bee-keeping. 

"This is a strong capacity-building programme ... it's about the transfer of technology between developing countries," Abdul Kobakiwal, chief of the FAO's Integrated Food Security Support Services told SciDev.Net.

"So far experiences with similar collaborations have been good. Farmers really enjoy them, because … the experts have been through similar stages in agriculture and development recently so they can relate to farmers in recipient countries well."

Vietnamese experts are already experienced in previous collaborations with Madagascan and Senegalese farmers, Kobakiwal added.

The experts, carefully chosen by the FAO and Chad from the pool of applicants provided by Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture, will use both their home-grown technology and local scientific achievements to help farmers improve and diversify their work, said Kobakiwal.

The cost of such South–South collaborations is usually low, he said: around US$1,500 per expert holding a Masters or PhD degree and US$900 per technician per month, plus transportation costs.

Chad initiated the collaboration and is funding the whole project as a part of its five-year, US$200 million National Programme for Food Security.

The Vietnamese experts will also benefit from the experience — several experts from previous collaborations have gone home to take up high-level jobs, Kobakiwal said.

The agreement is part of the FAO's South-South Cooperation Initiative, first launched in 1996. This was the fortieth such agreement — so far, 42 countries have benefitted from Southern expertise, said Kobakiwal. He added that similar bilateral collaborations with FAO's coordination are soon to be signed or are in negotiation between Vietnam and Congo, Gambia and Namibia.