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The future of food security and climate change in Viet Nam

Scenarios, outlooks and challenges in the next 30 years

Trang này cũng có bằng tiếng Việt (PDF)

Land of the Golden Mekong

In this scenario, unification of Southeast Asia in terms of political, economic and environmental concerns slowly becomes a reality. Though challenges around urbanisation and migration initially increase, ultimately institutions become effective enough to enable improved development and environmental management. Aging populations and the lack of labour due to egalitarianism become a problem – migrants from poorer countries replace the regional population in the working class but are shunned and abused. Strength and inclusiveness of governance (at least for the autochthonic population) is the key source of the significant change in food security, livelihoods and environments that can be observed. Climate resilience is strong in that respect, though biophysical vulnerabilities remain significant, especially in the form of extreme events that still sometimes overwhelm the region’s adaptive capacity. The migrants become the most vulnerable groups.

Buffalo Buffalo; water flows uphill

In this scenario we start out in 2013 looking up. ASEAN agreements appear to be going ahead. Myanmar is starting to produce more and be more economically active. Moving to 2020 we start to see more problems: there are major corruption scandals that greatly weaken national governments.  High oil and food prices due to global as well as local situation and increased demand for biofuels increases pressure for private sector to acquire land – increasing pressure on population that is dependent on farming for their living.   Logging concessions to private industry lead to massive deforestation.  Environmental change creates incredible regional tensions. ASEAN closes borders and cooperation between countries is lost.  Food production is significantly decreased – migration and conflicts increase. 2050 sees a situation of unsustainable agricultural intensification. There is a big plantation sector, greater emphasis on processed foods, but only the rich people in the country can afford it.  There is huge environmental degradation. Social conflict is rampant.  Local governance and civil society at times make some progress in solving problems, but they cannot overcome the overall declining situation. 

The Doreki Dragon

In this scenario, the ASEAN-facilitated development of a regional market and the increasingly effective political focus on big business in all sectors, including agriculture, drives significant change. GMOs become the norm and are no longer exceptional – it’s all just “food”. Agricultural industrialisation develops to the degree that agriculture, while a massive source of growth, is almost no longer recognizable as such. Smallholder famers struggle more than ever, and very often fail, to maintain a livelihood – many become workers on highly industrial farms. Urbanisation is high. Environmental degradation and natural land conversion are extreme. Food security for the poor is very low, though food safety is stringent. The different societal classes are more divided than ever in terms of climate resilience with climate impacts being made significantly worse due to large-scale manipulation of the natural environment.

Tigers on a Train

This scenario sees Southeast Asia becoming increasingly collaborative regionally but also protectionist with regard to outside economic influences from China and other global actors. Riding on a time of high food prices in the first decades of the scenario, the region manages to use investments in agriculture that are not by themselves extremely high very effectively. The highly controlled region develops its focus from primary production more to agricultural processing, and eventually away from agriculture and toward industrialisation. Protectionist economic policies cause tensions with China and the need for continued negotiations. By 2050, some deep issues with the protectionist policies threaten to cripple the regional economy.  In terms of climate resilience, this increased economic fragility threatens food security for the poorest who have felt the consequences of the shift away from agricultural development in recent decades.

Questions:

  1. What do you think are the main drivers of and obstacles to development for Viet Nam in the next 30 years? (see the the list of drivers and obstacles in each country below)

  2. Keeping in mind that each scenario represents an extreme future, how plausible do you think the scenarios for Viet Nam are? What would you like to add/change in each scenario to make it more plausible from your perspective?

  3. What solutions would support the drivers of the best scenario and help overcome obstacles encountered on the way? How about overcoming the challenges of the worst scenarios? 

  4. What are the key first steps needed to get a change process in motion, and who needs to be involved?

To read the complete scenarios for Viet Nam click here

This discussion is now closed. Please contact fsn-moderator@fao.org for any further information.

Nguyen Van Linh FAO, Viet Nam
30.03.2014
FSN Forum

1-What do you think are the main drivers of and obstacles to development for Vietnam in the next 30 years?

Main drivers for the development in Vietnam will be market linkages and regional economic collaborations with more foreign investments in Vietnam. These drivers shall also influence agriculture sector with the change of policies on food production (reduction of rice and increase of other cash crops such as maize, soybean, fruits and vegetables, etc). Land-use changes (more land allocated for cash crops than rice, land for industrialization, etc.) and land concentration in agriculture will gradually be a trend for modern farming and commercial production.

Major obstacles to agricultural development: 1) slow economic growth as a result of global crisis; 2) low agricultural product prices leading low incomes for farmers; 3) over demand of some commodities resulted from weak market forecast and poor policies; 4) weakness in food quality management/control; 5) increasing damages from climate shocks.

2. Keeping in mind that each scenario represents an extreme future, how plausible do you think the scenarios for Vietnam are? What would you like to add/change in each scenario to make it more plausible from your perspective?

All four scenarios seem reflecting trade/market relation within ASIAN and/or between ASIAN countries (in which Vietnam is a member) with China and other global actors (USA and EU) as important markets for future agricultural products. In this scene, the most plausible scenario seems to be Buffalo Buffalo; water flows uphill, but low incomes for food producers are still expected during the next 30 years, leading to a reduction of food production (especially rice) in the country.

3. What solutions would support the drivers of the best scenario and help overcome obstacles encountered on the way? How about overcoming the challenges of the worst scenarios?

Good policies on land use management and trade will help keeping trade-off between food and other crop production while increasing farmer’s incomes. Previous experiences for Vietnam agriculture show low income for rice farmers and the country have imported many other agricultural products (it was estimated that Vietnam rice export value in 2012 was just the same value of imported food and other agricultural products such as maize, soybean, etc for animal feed).  

4. What are the key first steps needed to get a change process in motion, and who needs to be involved?

The government leads the process with appropriate policies to encourage the participation of private sector. 

---------------------------------------

Nguyen Van Linh, PhD

Country Technical Coordinator,

The CSA project - GCP/INT/139/EC

FAO Vietnam, No.3, Nguyen Gia Thieu st, Hanoi, Vietnam

Tel.: 84-(0)912 563 515

Email: linh.nguyenvan@fao.org

Ms. Soojin Kim FAO, Viet Nam
27.03.2014
Soojin

1. What do you think are the main drivers of and obstacles to development for Vietnam in the next 30 years?

One of the main drivers of development in Vietnam is increased market linkage through free trade agreement such as Trans Pacific Partnership and regional economic collaborations, creating market opportunities to Vietnam.

Major obstacles to development include the following: 1) risks of falling into middle-income trap; 2) inequitable and uneven growth in sectors and regions; 3) depletion of natural resources.

2. Keeping in mind that each scenario represents an extreme future, how plausible do you think the scenarios for Vietnam are? What would you like to add/change in each scenario to make it more plausible from your perspective?

The most plausible scenario seems to be the Doreki dragon based on its descriptions and its main drivers to change. It is likely that Vietnam will have a common regulated market due to emerging pressures from external buyers on quality assurance and social and environmental standards. Strong regional economic collaboration is also observed to a large extent that will create more market opportunities for Vietnam.

The scenario would be more plausible if the following inputs are taken into account:

Higher degree of public and private investment is expected, however, will be concentrated on selected industries and regions. Agriculture production will be lagged behind, due to the lack of value added from producing raw materials and exhaustion of productive natural resources. Lowland areas near metropolitan cities will likely to receive more investments than other regions. Consequently, highlands of Vietnam will become poorer without benefitting from investment.

3. What solutions would support the drivers of the best scenario and help overcome obstacles encountered on the way? How about overcoming the challenges of the worst scenarios?

In order to avoid the obstacles described in the most plausible scenario (the Doreki dragon), the following solutions would be needed. Avoiding middle-income trap, in other words, uneven and unsustained growth that benefits certain geographic regions, social groups, and industries/sectors would require radical policy reforms and massive increase in internal value, especially on land and resources productivity. Switching from raw material based and export oriented economy to more value added and resources efficient agricultural production is an urgent task. For example, massive land conversion for rubber plantation must be strongly discouraged than value added product production from latex, by creating unfavorable investment conditions. In addition, as increased economic ties within the region can bring greater and/or harmful impacts to vulnerable groups, small holders, specific measurements to compensate the losers of such changes must be devised.  

4. What are the key first steps needed to get a change process in motion, and who needs to be involved?

Proactive voices and initiatives from diverse stakeholders, especially private sector that drive a radical policy reform, administered by the government will be needed as a key step. 

24.03.2014
John
  1. Urbanisation, industrialisation. Vietnam will follow the model of Japan and South Korea. In agriculture problem of structural change and increased mechanisation.
  2. The first scenario (Land of the Golden Mekong) seems most likely to me, although I am not convinced that they will want to integrate as the scenario describes.
  3. Vietnamese are generally industrious and pragmatic. Therefore (with luck) not likely to get involved in the more extreme scenarios. Biggest potential problem will be risk of conflict between China and USA and their allies – perhaps due to tensions over China/Taiwan or Japan relations. This would be a threat on a global scale. 
See the attachment:Contribution