Vietnam embarks on agroecological transformation

VIETNAM is positioning itself as a food innovation hub for Asia, and is building its reputation as a responsible, transparent, and sustainable food provider in the process.

As part of this transformation – from agri-food systems based on crop monocultures and separate intensive livestock rearing, sustained by environmentally disruptive chemicals – it is putting agroecology at the heart of its efforts.

Agroecology embraces a farming approach that makes use of ecological processes rather than their substitution by artificial alternatives, combines local and scientific knowledge, and focuses on the interactions between plants, animals, humans, and the environment.

Forests News reports that this commitment was highlighted during a side event at the 4th Global Conference of the One Planet Network‘s Sustainable Food System Programme (SFS Programme) in Hanoi on 25th April 2023. The session featured presentations from government officials from Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as from senior agroecology experts from around the world.

The speakers delivered updates on national policies, and shared how the 13 actionable agroecological principles have been integrated by a wide range of actors, at various scales, to build up sustainable food systems through agroecology across the Southeast Asian region.

The event was co-organized by the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS) and held under the auspices of the Agroecology Coalition and the Transformative Partnership Platform on Agroecological Approaches to Building Resilience of Livelihoods and Landscapes (Agroecology TPP).

Vietnam’s leaders have made no bones about centring agroecology in recent years. Their 2021-2025 socio-economic plan contains a resolution to “encourage the development of green, clean, ecological, organic, hi-tech, smart agriculture adaptable to climate change”, and the National Strategy for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development 2021-2030, vision to 2050 is explicitly oriented toward agroecological solutions.

Building on these political statements, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang, laid out Vietnam’s commitment to centring transparency, responsibility, and sustainability in its food systems during the opening of the SFS Programme conference. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Le Minh Hoan, then spoke of aspirations to cement the country’s status as a food innovation hub for Asia, and stated that transformation in food systems must be associated with the advancement of agroecology.

Vice-President of VAAS, Associate Professor Dao The Anh, said that the country’s ambitions in agroecology go beyond its borders, too. He said “Vietnam is now playing a very active role in initiating the agroecological network in the Southeast Asian region for sharing experiences related to the development of agroecology.”

Fergus Sinclair, Chief Scientist at co-convenor CIFOR-ICRAF, said “Vietnam is in many ways a leading light in Southeast Asia in relation to agroecology, but this is not without its challenges, such as food security and needing to maintain productivity whilst reducing the use of agrochemical inputs. Thankfully, there is increasing evidence that high productivity and diversity can go hand in hand – there are a lot of data now showing that, with mixed cropping and the inclusion of legumes, it is possible get high productivity without the use of industrially produced nitrogen fertiliser and pesticides. Such approaches are much more in harmony with nature than conventional agriculture and could help us avoid overshooting planetary boundaries.”


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