Dragonfruit Win

Dragonfruit Win

12 January, 2016
Lighting the Way
Vietnamese farmers embrace energy efficient lights in a simple but wonderful public-private initiative
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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, along with his wife and three children who help on the farm.
 
The sweet, fleshy fruit requires the long daylight hours of summer to blossom and ripen. Many Vietnamese farmers, including Minh Cam's family, rely on artificial lighting during the shorter days of the off season to ensure a year-round harvest and a year-round income.
 
But electricity comes at a cost, and the price of running the lights can eat significantly into profits.
 
Last year, Minh Cam replaced his incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). His farm's electricity bill came down dramatically as a result – from about US$660-700 to US$177-220 per lighting session.
 
His farm is one of 60 dragon fruit plantations that are part of the "Phasing out Incandescent Lamps through Lighting Market Transformation in Vietnam" project, implemented by the UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific in partnership with the Vietnamese Government. The aim of the programme, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility. is to help farmers reduce production cost and save electricity – which, in turn, will contribute to climate change mitigation in Viet Nam.
 
A representative for the programme said in a press release that local agencies and district committees have played a crucial role in the transition, educating and addressing farmers' concerns over things like initial investment costs and the impact of the new lamps on the crop. And, as a result, the tide is slowly turning; with savings of up to US $485 per hectare, the math makes sense, and the number of dragon fruit farmers using CFLs has so far increased by 20 per cent.
 
Meanwhile, nearly 14,000 families in seven provinces who participated in energy efficient household lighting demonstration projects also reported a newfound preference for the low-energy bulbs, and take-up has been steady; in three communes of the Ha Tinh province, all household lighting has already been replaced with CFLs.
 
Participation in such projects has also benefitted two of Viet Nam's largest lighting manufacturers, who have been able to improve product quality, increase staff skills and introduce new technologies. Working with them and supported by a two-year-old ban on the sale of incandescent lamps with a capacity higher than 60 W, these projects aim to transform the country's lighting products market, making it more energy-efficient and climate-friendly.

By: Ecozine Staff
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