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