FAO in Viet Nam

Special Focus Areas

To meet Viet Nam’s evolving development needs and newly emerging challenges, FAO has embarked on five new dynamic areas of work to turn these challenges into opportunities. This portfolio, endorsed by the government in early 2019, also reflects our continually growing relationship with Viet Nam as a committed partner for sustainable development.

Development of organic, plastic-free and 
fair trade farming systems for small-holders

Viet Nam is known as a global agricultural heavyweight, yet the transformative potential of its small-holder farmers as a dynamic and productive force remains untapped.

To unlock the door to future prosperity for these farmers and rural communities, FAO is working with government and in the field to develop organic, plastic-free and fair trade farming systems to realize this potential. With organic farming already viewed by government as a possible pathway to restructuring the agricultural sector towards higher added value and sustainable development, the challenge is to achieve increases in agriculture commodities already produced in an ecologically balanced manner.

FAO will realize this goal through developing, strengthening and piloting ways to promote organically produced agricultural commodities and enhance value-addition for certification, market research and commercialization. Through developing a fully transparent and traceable quality management programme with certification for organic and environmentally-friendly agriculture products, farmers can access exponentially growing international demand for organic and bio food, and domestic consumers who are increasingly shunning local produce due to food safety concerns.

A key feature of FAO’s work and the market appeal of such products is the “zero plastic” goal throughout the production process. With single-use plastic having increasingly severe environmental consequences in Viet Nam with soil and water contamination, biodegradable materials such as straw, wood chips and natural seedling trays will be adopted at all production stages - including packaging - with collection and recycling systems developed.

To ensure farmers and all value chain participants receive equitable returns, FAO will champion the 10 World Fair Trade Organization’s fair trade principles within farming systems. Importantly, poor farming communities, empowerment of women and ethnic minorities will be key focuses of this initiative, in line with FAO Viet Nam’s goal that a growing number of direct beneficiaries are women.

Development of modern business type cooperatives for small-holder farmers

Many small-holder farmers in Viet Nam today struggle to realize a better future with land, capital and technology remaining out of reach. Modern business cooperatives, as is the case globally, are a potential solution to unlock resources and transform farmers’ increased bargaining power and competitiveness into profits. However, in Viet Nam cooperatives have yet to fully transition to outward-looking and functional businesses from their pre-1986 command economy origins.
This leaves many cooperatives still operating without effective business plans and strong management capacity that diminishes profits and benefits to rural communities and the rural economy at large. Ambitious government efforts to restructure these cooperatives have been impeded by a fast-decreasing labour force, largely due to rural-urban drift.

As a champion of rural communities, FAO will work at institutional and grassroots levels to enhance the competitiveness of cooperatives through catalytic business remodeling, building market and value chain linkages as well as identifying new markets. With increased bargaining power and competitiveness translating into profits, this work will have a trickle-down effect to help revitalize rural communities – especially poor ones, with a particular focus on ethnic minorities and the empowerment of women.

Multi-sectoral rural income diversification – smart farming systems and agro-ecotourism

Revitalizing rural communities is a core mission of FAO in Viet Nam. To deliver a generational change in rural prosperity - underpinned by sustainable livelihoods, strong cultural identity and an eventual reversal in rural-urban migration – FAO is intensifying efforts towards multi-sectoral rural income diversification and leaving behind risky and unsustainable single/mono commodity approaches.
It is important to promote inclusive rural development through ana holistic approach. This also entails stabilizing household income through diversified on and off/non farming economic activities.

Development of smart farming systems is a critical part of our work to ensure diverse and sustainable income streams flow from Viet Nam’s transformation into a modern agricultural producer and help communities address increasingly acute climate change challenges. Key initiatives include the optimization of production systems for different vegetable and fruit agro-products, with use of high-quality seeds in step with climate and tech-smart natural resource management and effective detection of pesticides and human food-borne diseases. Agriculture information-communication and technologies to enhance selected value chains will be introduced to deliver high- quality data on a range of important areas such as food safety, pest and disease management, climate monitoring and adaptation.
Agro-ecotourism is another exciting initiative to deliver prosperity to rural communities and employment for rural youth. Tapping into Viet Nam’s current tourism boom, agro-ecotourism further leverages the country’s unique landscapes, seascapes, indigenous values, food, handicrafts and hospitality in rural settings. 

Innovative promotion campaigns will showcase the social, economic and environmental benefits as well as traditional/cultural aspects of this form of tourism. Importantly, linkages between these two pillars – organic farming and agro-ecotourism – will be solidified to become mutually beneficial and self-sustaining.

Nutrition and food safety – future smart food, dietary change, organic and bio food generation

Food systems are crucial to address food insecurity, malnutrition, diet-related health problems and food safety. In Viet Nam, communities and even households face situations where under-nutrition exists side-by-side with a fast-growing problem of overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases. Coupled with rising food safety concerns, these problems and their causes are complex and evolving fast.

FAO will address these multi-faceted challenges through strengthened agriculture and food diversification (production and dietary) through promotion of ‘Future Smart Food’, a holistic and cost-effective intervention that taps into the huge potential of neglected and under utilized species to achieve ‘Zero Hunger’.
Targeted agriculture household and consumption models will address food insecurity in disadvantaged areas, especially those with large populations of ethnic minorities as well as ones threatened by natural disasters and climate change.

Dietary diversity is another tool to achieve ‘Zero Hunger’, with only 103 crops globally out of 30 000 edible plant species providing up to 90 percent of calories in the human diet. Promotion of healthier and diverse as well as more plant-based diets will be achieved through awareness raising, training, school teaching and support to local processors and entrepreneurs. Food safety and traceability along complete value chains, especially production and processing, will also be a focus of FAO efforts as will enhancement of school meals through “farm to school” models.

Sustainable Development agenda road map and investment plan for agriculture and natural resources

Agriculture is of critical importance to the well-being of Viet Nam, touching nearly all aspects of society. More than half of the population and nearly 95 percent of the poor live in rural areas, while up to 65 percent of the population directly or indirectly depend on the agricultural sector for employment and livelihoods.
The agriculture sector’s paramount importance in Viet Nam is also reflected in nearly half (seven) of the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their targets being almost entirely related to agriculture and natural resources (ANR) management – also the key thematic area of all FAO work on global and national scales. The indivisible nature of the SDGs related to ANR demonstrates the need to conceptualize a roadmap to align the ANR-related SDGs into national planning and budgeting in an inclusive manner.

Within the Sustainable Development Agenda National Action Plan, FAO will also help support and formulate an ANR Investment Master Plan to detail activities and quantify the respective funding needs to close development gaps identified per target. This will form the basis for adapted alignment of development plans and budgets at central and provincial levels with defined targets and related financial requirements.