Changing rice farming

January 21, 2021
View of dikes protecting rice fields in An Giang Province. Photo by Pham Duy Tien

Water resource management specialist Dung Duc Tran and colleagues have just published results from a large study of farmers’ perspectives on adaptation practices and livelihood sustainability in the Mekong Delta’s An Giang province. 

Salinity intrusion in the Delta, coupled with changes in the hydrological conditions due to upstream dams have prompted the Government of Vietnam to bring in policies for sustainability. Farmers are now encouraged to reduce the intensity of rice cultivation—moving from three rice crops a year to just two crops every third year. While their fields are protected from flooding by dikes, farmers are asked to permit occasional flooding of their fields, so as to wash away agro-chemicals and allow sediment to enrich the soil.

The study found that farmers understand the need for these policies and have introduced different crops to supplement rice, such as coconut planted on polders, and water mimosa, lotus and water lily in the flooded fields. However, many farmers are still prone to poverty and are vulnerable to fluctuating market prices. 

Focus group discussions with farmers in Phu Tan District, An Giang Province. Photo by Dung Duc Tran.

The authors propose that further government will be needed to ensure the sustainability of farmers’ livelihoods, such as introduction of high-value rice varieties and promoting farmer-friendly contracts with middlemen.

Read the full paper, published in Agricultural Water Management here.

Thanks to Dr Dung Duc Tran at the National University, Ho Chi Minh City, for these photos. 

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