After the success of the online volunteer program in 2020, RAID Network (Researchers in Agriculture for International Development), the Australian Volunteer Program in collaboration with Faculty of Economics and Rural Development, Vietnam National University of Agriculture (VNUA) developed a volunteer program with the theme “The Research for Development Challenge” (The R4D Challenge) with the participation of Australian volunteers and staff and students of VNUA from July 24 to August 4, 2023. The program aimed to share experiences, knowledge and opportunities in an international research and working environment for young researchers and students at VNUA.


Members visit and discuss at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) 

Participating in this year's program, five volunteers from Australia, including Pham Tung Anh, Do Mai Chi (University of Adelaide), Camilla Humphries (University of Melbourne), Megan Williams (Syngeta Australia), and Sally Molero (La Trobe University) with the responsibilities of mentors, attended online and in person meetings at the Faculty of Economics and Rural Development (VNUA) to share their working experiences in the fields of agriculture in different countries as well as experiences in research and project implementation on topics of sustainable development, community engagement,  and digital transformation in agriculture, etc.

Five young researchers, the mentees from VNUA that accompanied the Australian volunteers this year, included Dr. Bui The Khuyen (Faculty of Agronomy), MSc. Dinh Thi Yen (Faculty of Animal Science), Ha Hai Yen (Faculty of Biotechnology), Tran Dang Thuc Hien, and Pham Thi To Dieu (Faculty of Economics and Rural Development). The program also received regular mentoring and support from Assoc. Dr. Nguyen Thi Duong Nga, Dr. Duong Nam Ha, Dr. Nguyen Anh Duc and MSc. Tran The Cuong (Department of Quantitative Analysis, Faculty of Economics and Rural Development, VNUA) during the online and in-person sessions. Discussion and exchange between mentors and mentees about research design activities from beginning to end of the program helped to create a close connection, the answers from the mentors helped the mentees better understand the issues, thereby helping them to clarify the issue to build their own research.


Mentors and mentees discuss about research design 

In addition, in order to better clarify the mechanisms, policies and practices of agricultural development in Vietnam in the context of the industrial revolution 4.0, there were also the presentation on economic development policies for Digital economy in Vietnam by Dr. Luu Van Duy (Faculty of Economics and Rural Development) as well as the presentation on Sustainable Development Policy and Digital Transformation at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development by Dr. Phung Danh Huan (Department of Crop Production, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development). These presentations enabled mentors and mentees to better understand research and development policies in Vietnam to better shape their research directions in the future.


Visiting and learning about research activities at the Institute for Research and Development of Medicinal Plants (VNUA)

Visiting and learning about research activities at the Center for Plant Research and Development (VNUA) 

In addition, Australian volunteers and mentees visited the Institute for Research and Development of Medicinal Plants, the Center for Plant Research and Development, and the Center for Bee Research and Tropical Beekeeping at VNUA, as well as tge International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and production models of safe vegetables and watermelons in Van Noi commune (Dong Anh district, Hanoi) and Tan An town (Yen Dung district, Bac Giang province). These visits helped mentors and mentees to approach practical agricultural research and production issues, reinforcing each member's research orientation.


Visiting and learning about research activities at the Center for Tropical Bees and Beekeeping (VNUA)

Visiting a family vegetable model in Van Noi commune (Dong Anh district, Hanoi)

Visiting the watermelon model in Tan An town (Yen Dung district, Bac Giang)

Throughout all of the discussions, exchanges and research orientations, many activities to explore Vietnam between Vietnamese and Australian partners also facilitated better understanding of Australian volunteers about Vietnamese life and people. That also contributed to strengthening the cooperation between Vietnamese and Australian organizations in the coming years.

Dr. Nguyen Huu Nhuan, Vice Dean of Faculty of Economics and Rural Development, VNUA, on behalf of the Organizing Committee awarded certificates of program completion to mentors and mentees. 

The success of the Australian volunteer program at VNUA in 2023 opened up many new cooperation opportunities between organizations and universities in Australia and VNUA as well as organizations and research institutes in Vietnam.