In Viet Nam, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, are important sectors of the economy, accounting for 21 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009. About 70 percent of the population live in rural areas and 48 percent depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture therefore plays a crucial role in households’ livelihoods, especially for the poor. Viet Nam is currently the second rice exporter of the world. In 2010, Viet Nam produced 39.9 million tons of paddy, and exported 6.83 million tons of milled rice. Thailand and Viet Nam together account for 50 percent of world rice trade.
Economic growth in Viet Nam has been causing inequality, particularly widening rural-urban income gap. Three regions account for more than two-thirds of Viet Nam’s poor: the Northern Uplands, Mekong Delta and North Central Coast. Poverty rate is still 14,5 per cent (2008) and almost half (47%) of Vietnam’s population lives below the US$2-a-day poverty line (GSO, 2007). Yet equivalent rural and urban poverty rates are 59 % and 15 % respectively, implying that about 90% of the poor population is in rural areas.
The emarkable progress in agricultural production and exports has been noted along the past years and it has had an important contribution to food security and the early achievement of MDG1. The potential for future agricultural progress is based on the application of technology transfer and advanced science, such as second generation biotechnology.
FOOD SAFETY AND FOOD SECURITY
While Viet Nam was attaining the first goal of the MDGs in 2010, namely to reduce the hunger by half by 2015, still some 14 % of the population remain undernourished. Among children under five years of age, the rate for underweight is 20 % and stunting 35.8 %. Estimated 27 % of mothers with children less than five years old suffer from chronic energy deficiency. Viet Nam has achieved significant improvement in maternal and child nutrition during the last three decades, but reducing the extent of malnutrition remains a public health priority.
There are remarkable differences in food consumption habits and patterns between peoples living in the midlands and mountainous areas, urban and rural environments, and among different ethnic groups. Increased dairy farming and processing would lead to consequently to increased milk consumption and could have major benefits to child nutrition and reduce stunting. One suggestions would be to explore the possibilities for increased dairy farming, including goats, in mountainous regions where there is possibility of getting more fodder is one solution.
Nutrition is the key to the long-term goal of achieving health and food security throughout the country. Achieving this goal will require special attention to the supply, adequacy and access by all segments of the population to safe and healthy foods that contribute to better diet and nutrition. To assist Viet Nam with its food security goals, UN in Viet Nam is working on capacity building and policy reform. UN in Viet Nam is working also in many areas of Food Safety through several joint programs.
In Global climate risk index ranking Viet Nam is placed fifth and will be severely affected by the changes in the climate. Effective coordination and cooperation are critical to respond to climate change and avoid the worst impacts. Yet climate change-related policy development, research, and awareness raising all face coordination challenges because climate change action relates to so many sectors and other strategies, plans and national target programmes. In recent years the UN has helped the Government coordinate the development of the National Target Programme to Respond to Climate Change.
The UN has also promoted and supported mainstreaming of climate change into the national Socio-Economic Development Plan under the leadership of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and supported the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to work with provinces and sector ministries (including the ministries of agriculture, information and technology, health, education, labour and communication) to provide guidance on their action plans to respond to climate change. The UN has also directly supported sector ministries in this action planning, often bringing expertise from different UN agencies to help a specific ministry.
The combination of mean sea level rise, saline water intrusion, higher temperatures, and droughts puts pressure on total agricultural production, the incomes of farmers, local and national food security and rice exports, and is a structural upward pressure on global food prices, even though Viet Nam is still maintaining a very significant and growing export capacity because of productivity improvements. However, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has estimated that climate change effects could hit rice and coffee production in Viet Nam from as early as 2020. This would imply an increasing pressure on the world market price of rice because Viet Nam is one of the most important rice exporters. However, the total volume of rice traded globally against rice consumed is very small and many domestic staple food markets are regulated. So although world market prices may rise, actual food insecurity in other countries also depends on local production and the regulation of domestic markets.
Green and inclusive growth policies in the agricultural sector need to be fully integrated into countries’ overall development strategies and assessed in terms of their contribution to development and well being. This means that climate and other environmental concerns are best placed in the centre of government. It has to be highlighted that these issues are not the exclusive concerns of government. Now, more than ever, the effort to shift growth paths requires the engagement and participation of all parts of society.
The Party promulgated the Resolution ”Agriculture - Rural Area – Farmer policy (also called as Tam Nong)” in 2008 to improve living standards of rural communities and establishing actions for adapting to and mitigating climate change effects. The National Target Programme on New Rural Development is setting the framework for 2010-2020 to develop and to modernize rural areas through coordinating development action at the commune level in the areas of agriculture, employment, enterprise and industry, education, health, tourism, infrastructure, governance in well protected environment and sustainable use of natural resources (land, water resource, forest, etc).
This is an integrated NTP, cross-cutting many sectors and administration system levels in terms of organization, institution and policy. A deeply decentralised policy is applied which reflects the principle “ the final decision should generally be made at the lowest, commune, level”. The master plan is requested to be available before starting investment. By 2011, about 50% of 9121 communes completed the commune development master plan, aiming to 100% by June 2012. An International policy advisory forum and four Regional workshops has been organised for sharing lesson learnt and experiences, as well as providing policy advices to improve NTP implementation efficiently. Year 2012 the United Nations in Viet Nam will focus on capacity building for leadership, NTP implementers and farmers.
Since its emergence in early 2004, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) caused by H5N1 has caused global concern threatening both animal and human health. Viet Nam has been one of the countries worst affected with major impacts of the disease on poultry production, livelihoods and human health.
Following the onset of the disease, the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases Operations (ECTAD) was set up using FAO’s own finances to start the programme. FAO works regionally and nationally to combat avian influenza in close collaboration with governments, national and international partners, bringing together technical expertise in socioeconomics, disease control, farming systems, agricultural and pro-poor policy, communications and extension. FAO assist the Government of Viet Nam’s to fight HPAI and other emerging infectious diseases such as foot and mouth disease and classical swine fever.
Viet Nam has made great progress in its fight against HPAI but the threat to human and poultry health continues with 47 outbreaks confirmed in 2011. However, no human cases of bird-flu have been reported in 2011 in Viet Nam though there had been 7 human cases in 2010 of which two were fatal.