HUMIDTROPICS / Markets / PIL / Report / Southeast Asia / Vietnam

Beyond the (agricultural) field of vision: Situational analysis in northwest Vietnam

Upland maize and rice - terraced rice mixed cropping system in rural Northwest Vietnam

The highly sloped landscape of upland northwest Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Jo Cadilhon).

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in collaboration with CGIAR and national partners, and as part of the Humidtropics CGIAR Research Program, has released ‘A situational analysis of agricultural production and marketing and natural resources management systems in northwest Vietnam’.

Its primary objectives are to provide evidence that will guide future activities of the Humidtropics program in the action site and to establish a common understanding among partners/stakeholders on critical issues and possible program interventions. This situational analysis is the first activity in the site and is the preparatory step for all future program activities.

Map of the action site for the situational analysis in northwest Vietnam

The Mekong Action Area Flagship showing the three Action Sites (left) and the Green Triangle with its subdivisions, namely, provinces and district (right) [photo credit: ILRI].

This research was carried out with the help of several Humidtropics’ partners: Soils and Fertilizer Research Institute, Centre for Agrarian Systems Research and Development, Fruit and Vegetable Research Institute, Centre for Sustainable Rural Development, Bioversity International and the World Agroforestry Centre and was coordinated by ILRI.

Four provinces (Son La, Dien Bien, Lai Chau and Lao Cai) in northwest Vietnam were chosen through previous consultation as the action site. This action site is part of the larger Central Mekong Action Area that comprises several parts of Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Thailand and China. It is considered part of the Green Triangle zone of mostly upland mixed systems occurring in northwest Vietnam and southern China.

This situational analysis, as suggested by its title, is structured along four sections: (1) the development overview, (2) production systems, (3) markets and institutions and (4) natural resources management. The development overview describes the general state of rural development in Vietnam’s northwest, such as poverty levels, nutrition, education, employment, infrastructure, gender, ethnic diversity, policy environment, institutions and civil society. The production systems section includes a discussion of the topography of the region, which is marked by slopes and challenging terrain, agricultural produce, technology, large commercial farming, gender and policies. The section of markets and institutions explains the market demand and structure, price trends, inputs and services and commodity policies. The natural resources management section discusses issues related to land and soil, water and irrigation, forest, genetic resources and biodiversity, indigenous knowledge and local practices and related laws and policies. Each section/subject area is data driven but analysed in terms of its wider economic, political and social implications.

For the analysis, data were gathered from secondary data, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, household surveys, market visits and stakeholder consultations. The secondary sources included local-level data from the provinces, and where unavailable, from the National Statistics Office in Hanoi. Key informant interviews were conducted at the district, provincial and commune levels with commune leaders, farmer group representatives, businessmen, NGOs and professional agencies. Data from these interviews was analysed to identify key trends across the responses. Focus group discussions and household surveys were designed to fill information gaps in the results from the secondary data and the key informant interviews. Also, market visits were organized to better understand the market structure, and stakeholder consultations were used to review and refine the results of the analysis.

A two-day workshop was held where draft results of the analysis were presented to local government representatives, research and development NGOs and other stakeholders. Participants were asked to review, confirm or comment on the preliminary results and to provide inputs about system problems and possible solutions. The information gathered was used to complement and corroborate the issues raised.

From the evidence gathered and methodology employed, the following were identified as critical issues in the action site:

  1. The disparity between the urban and rural populations in terms of income, education, livelihood opportunities, which is further compounded by ethnicity
  2. Poor agricultural productivity, which is further threatened by degrading soils and increased mono-cropping
  3. Continuing high levels of child malnutrition
  4. Low prices and constrained market access, exacerbated by poor infrastructure and difficult terrain, that make it difficult for many farmers to increase their market orientation and incomes
  5. Pollution of waterways and
  6. Poor or inconsistent implementation of policies

The report identifies sets of potential interventions to respond to these issues. The general sets of interventions that will be considered include productivity and soil degradation, special indigenous and high-value products, needs and opportunities for ethnic minorities, value chain development and improved dietary diversity.

Stakeholder consultations will continue to play a central role in carrying out potential interventions in the northwest. Through the use of R4D platforms, in addition to more detailed and targeted analysis, the program will develop, with partners, a set of activities and interventions to test and demonstrate integrated solutions to system challenges. These ‘entry points’ will utilise appropriate technical, management and organizational options to improve the overall performance of the target system, as measured against the programs Intermediate Development Outcomes, which include improvement in income, nutrition, productivity, system resilience, women and youth and innovation capacity.

Download ‘A situational analysis of agricultural production and marketing, and natural resources management systems in northwest Vietnam’.

Find out more about Humidtropics.

Read other blog articles about the the situational analysis:

Northwest Vietnam situation analysis starting point for Humidtropics research in Central Mekong

Is there an integrative role for livestock in agricultural systems? Positive insights from Vietnam

Condensing lots of information into a situational analysis report: Think about key messages

This article was written by Julie Mateo, a communication specialist working with ILRI in Philippines.

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