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Despite booming urban and industrial development, agriculture remains a core sector in Vietnam where rural poverty and malnutrition are high. ICRISAT’s research priorities in Vietnam include adaptation to climate change, groundnut improvement, promoting legume cultivation and community watershed management. 

60% - Share of Vietnam's working population engaged in the agriculture sector

3% - Annual growth rate of groundnut production and yields from 2000-2009 in Vietnam

↘15% - Possible decrease in Vietnam's rice production by 2050 due to climate change



General context

Since 2000, Vietnam has been described as an upcoming "economic dragon" with a growth rate among the highest in the world. Yet, 17% of  its population still lives below the poverty line and 23% of children under five are stunted.

Despite a shift to a more industrial economy, agriculture remains very important, especially for the most vulnerable population. The sector employs 60% of the working population and accounts for 22% of the GDP and 30% of exports. There is a widening socioeconomic gap between the urban and rural population, especially ethnic minorities (in the remote northern uplands). The majority of the rural population makes a living growing and selling crops (rice accounts for 45% of agricultural production), raising and selling livestock and fish, and from forest products. 

ICRISAT research in Vietnam

Vietnamese farmers face many challenges including stagnant productivity, unsustainable forestry and natural resources management and vulnerability to natural hazards such as floods. Agriculture is highly dependent on water-intensive rice monoculture.

Crop diversification, in particular increasing legume cultivation in cropping systems, is a good strategy to improve farmers' resilience as well as their nutrition. ICRISAT is working with Vietnam's research institutions and farmers to improve legume varieties and promote the cultivation of high-yielding cultivars through farmer participatory research and extension activities.

Groundnut in particular showed a steady 3% annual increase in production and yield during the last decade. Improved fertilization (use of alternative coconut ash) and ensuring the production of quality seeds of improved varieties helped arise average yields  from 1620 kg/ha in 2002 to 2110 kg/ha in 2009. Research also aims at incorporating market preference traits (confectionery varieties with a high Oleic/Linoleic ratio) and reducing aflatoxin contamination, so that farmers benefit from markets.

ICRISAT is also exploring the pros and cons of introducing improved cultivars of biofuel crops such as sweet sorghum in smallholder farming systems, as an alternative source of income, while meeting the varied needs of rural communities for food security and animal feeds.

Participative integrated watershed management combining improved agronomy and more sustainable natural resource management practices can also significantly improve the productivity of rainfed farms. By 2016, at least 40,000 farmers in Ha Tinh and Cao Bang provinces will benefit from this approach.

Upcoming research priorities include adaptation of Vietnamese farmers to climate change. Indeed, agriculture is considered the sector most affected by climate change: rice production may decrease by more than 15% by 2050, hugely impacting national food security.

The study of farmers' resilience to climate change is helping design sound policy recommendations for better adaptation such as investing in research on drought-tolerant crops and appropriate soil and water conservation practices.

Important documents on Vietnam

http://www.fao.org/countryprofiles/index/en/?iso3=VNM