The way forward for agriculture sector development and adaptation in Viet Nam in light of COVID-19 impacts

Ha Noi, 11 December 2020 – Although Viet Nam has been very successful in both agriculture sector adaptation planning and stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the economic impacts of the pandemic are negatively affecting farmers and, thus, decrease their climate change resilience. According to a recent UNDP survey, up to 71% of the sample, of 1,335 people, experience a decrease in income due to the epidemic. Other research has further shown that supply chains are disrupted and changing demand patterns leads, in some cases, to the abondance of fields/yields as the profits would not outweigh the costs involved for the harvest.  This shows Viet Nam needs to strengthen resilience for farmers and international support to cope with the losses of COVID-19 and climate change.

The information was shared at the International Support Group’s (ISG) 2020 Plenary Meeting with the theme: "Viet Nam's agriculture and rural development in the context of COVID-19 impacts: Opportunities and challenges" that was co-organized by Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and International Agricultural Development Fund (IFAD). The ISG is a high-level event informing the country’s agriculture sectors policy development, planning, and budgeting processes. The 2020 Plenary Meeting was attended by nearly 200 delegates representing Embassies in Hanoi, multilateral and bilateral partners, international organizations, international trade agencies (in agriculture), non-governmental organizations; international and domestic businesses and agricultural PPPs; agencies under MARD, relevant ministries / departments / sectors and local authorities, domestic and international media.

Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam, who co-chaired the meeting together with the Deputy Minister of MARD, Le Quoc Doanh, highlighted that "COVID-19 and climate change can be turned into opportunities to transform the agriculture sector, optimize and scale nature-based solutions to increase climate ambitions to implement the targets of the Paris Agreement.”

“It is important for agriculture businesses and farmers to be prepared for the multiple risks of climate extremes and COVID-19. Viet Nam has a track record of introducing agricultural insurance as one of the key risk transfer mechanisms. Under the National Agriculture Insurance Pilot Program (NAIPP), for example, the Pilot Insurance Program covered over 300,000 households in 20 provinces focusing on rice, livestock, and aquaculture insurance. UNDP is currently cooperating with MARD in further strengthening the risk-transfer schemes, expanding options for farmers, SMEs and businesses to effectively cope with future losses and shocks,” she added. Economically safeguarding will be an important aspect to strengthen resilience of agriculture-based rural communities, which are particularly affected by COVID-19 implications. Some studies identified that in selected cases reverse-remittance flows, meaning that households in rural areas start sending money to their relatives in cities or abroad, are being observed, which further marginalizes those households, which before the pandemics oftentimes were the recipients of remittances.

The event highlighted the importance to elevate our ambitions and introduce innovative actions in the field of climate change and integrate concepts of resilience and sustainability into COVID-19 recovery efforts – to build forward better to a Green & Resilient Viet Nam. We need to significantly boost public and private partnership and investment in adaptation and building resilience, while taking ambitious steps to reduce carbon emissions as part of our recovery programming.

As a trusted partner of MARD, the NAP-Ag programme, provides support to update Viet Nam’s Roadmap for Adaptation Planning in Agriculture Sectors to reflect changed post-covid realities in its sectoral adaptation planning processes. The key insights gained during this ‘re-planning’ process will soon be published in the form of a NAP-Ag policy brief.