Set in the year 2050, An tells her story of how the once-dreamy farmer’s daughter revolutionised the agricultural sector in her home country Vietnam, out of a need to combat increasing environmental threats.
It’s the year 2050. A strong wind sweeps through the rice fields and heavy rain pelts the sodden grounds. An Ca, now 42 years old, is sitting with a former friend inside a modern facility surrounded by bright green rice fields, typical for Vietnam. The two have not seen each other since An Ca moved to Switzerland in 2027 to study environmental engineering. With nowhere to go due to the harsh weather and the day still being young, An Ca begins to tell her live story to her childhood friend:
“Do you remember? When I was young, I always talked about becoming a teacher. I even started my teaching education. But with the climate conditions getting worse every year, my family, farmers for generations, found it increasingly difficult to keep heads above water. I felt obliged to make the most out of my technological talent and creativity that I was blessed with. Unfortunately, we hardly had any financial means to pay for my education, so I decided to start a virtual crowdfunding campaign. It seems that my vision for a better life for Vietnamese farmers did not leave other people unaffected. Within a few months, I raised the necessary funds to finance my studies in Switzerland, a place known for its innovative technological and strong agricultural sector.
During my studies, I met many Swiss farmers and together we thought about a concept for a fully automated irrigation system for farms in Vietnam. Through one professor of ours, we managed to get in contact with a Swiss SME specialised in building and implementing automated irrigation systems in Switzerland. Small investors started to gain interest in our project and within only one year, we managed to create a small NGO, named “arch” with the goal to adapt the Vietnamese farming industry to current and future increasingly devastating weather conditions.
As the years passed, climate change became a top priority for most decision makers across the globe. With new, ambitious agreements being negotiated, some key investors bailed out thinking the climate would stabilize and our idea would be rendered irrelevant. Thanks to our extensive international network, we were able to quickly find investors elsewhere, allowing us to boost our research and development, resulting in our first prototype of a fully automated water redistribution system to regulate the fields during the increasingly destructive dry and rainy seasons. Simultaneously, technological progress was evident in other areas of the digitization of agricultural equipment. For example, research into swarms of nano-drones has been pushed forward during the last years.
At this moment a storm-like gust of wind cuts through the conversation, making the rain thunder against the large windows. Completely captivated by the story, An Ca’s friend doesn’t even seem to notice.
As An Ca continues talking, you can see her face lightening up and a small glimpse of pride sparking in her eyes. “After celebrating our first successful test-runs, we started thinking about how we could spread the technology to the other farmers in need. The elections three years ago worked in our favour, as adaptation to climate change was the key issue for all parties. We were able to initiate public-private partnership discussions to implement our watering system on a large scale to measure and distribute water evenly and efficiently throughout Vietnam. Currently, we are in the final testing phase of our interconnected rice field watering machines. Applying such a concept to the watering systems would revolutionize the farming industry!
I admire how open and ambitious people have become – sometimes even a little bit over-ambitious.” An Ca chuckles. “One of our tech-experts just sent a small fleet of the so-called nano drones through the rice fields at an incredible speed! They target small parasites and unwanted insects. This way, the amount of pesticide currently in use could be drastically reduced, allowing the production of fully organic crops. A lot of testing and hard work is still required, but I’m confident that this will change our way of farming and connecting to the land”
An Ca notices the weather has improved in the meantime: The rain has subsided and the first rays of sunshine are fighting their way through the dense clouds. The eyes of the two friends meet and An Ca smiles contentedly.