ProjevVietnam has a complex agriculture-based economy. The variety of biophysical and climatic environments in Vietnam allow for the production of a wide range of crops. Recent global concerns over soaring food and fuel prices have boosted investment in agricultural production in Vietnam. Indiscriminate use of chemical inputs, both fertilizer and pesticides, puts agricultural production at risk. In particular, the overuse of pesticides in rice is known to eliminate important ecosystem services resulting into secondary pest outbreaks which could potentially jeopardize national and regional food security. Intensive use of extremely and highly hazardous chemicals by small-holder farmers also continues to cause high incidence of farmer poisoning.
The hot, humid climatic conditions in Vietnam are favorable for development of many pests and diseases. In addition, the overuse of pesticides combined with limited knowledge among farmers has led to high levels of pest resistance to broad-spectrum pesticides. Therefore, agricultural production has faced many difficulties in pest and disease management. Pesticide residues on harvested fresh produce have recently become a domestic and international food safety concern, constraining marketing to urban consumers in local and export markets.
The limited knowledge of farmers about pesticides and alternative options for pest management, the pressure of going into commercial production and the aggressive marketing strategies of pesticide companies and agents including some government staff are only a few of the factors that explain pesticide abuse in the country.
During the past decade, the Government of Vietnam has emphasized a commodity based agricultural approach aimed at securing domestic food security while maintaining a high level of export growth. Understanding the need to adhere to prevailing quality standards as a requirement to secure stable exports, and in response to increasing concerns among domestic consumers over food safety, the Government is increasingly seeking to strengthen the regulatory framework for safe food production. Over the past years, various ministries have promulgated 17 decrees pertaining to food safety and security. Local provincial authorities have also increasingly encouraged farmers to grow “safe” vegetables, and have, in some places, established their own market regulations and standards to guide vegetable production, post-harvest processing and marketing.
Given the renewed attention to food security and current prominent driving forces for pesticide risk reduction related to food safety, international trade facilitation and enduring environmental and health concerns, the need for strong Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) farmer training programmes is greater than ever. In tandem with such training efforts, there is a need to develop sustainable pest and pesticide management policies, to strengthen the regulatory framework to control the distribution and use of pesticides, and to enhance capacity for implementation of these policies and enforcement of pesticide legislation.