Rice production is key for the Vietnam economy, yet today there is the urgent need to restructure the sector towards sustainability.
Photo: Vanessa Meadu/CCAFS


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Although Vietnam is one of the world’s biggest rice producers and exporters, the productivity growth of its rice sector has reached a plateau since 2010. There is an urgent need to restructure the sector towards sustainable cultivation. Here consumers can become a key driver of change. Promoting sustainability-related labels for quality rice can be an effective market-driven mechanism to respond to Vietnamese consumers’ demand for safer, higher-quality and better-value rice while also encouraging farmers to start a transition towards sustainable rice cultivation practices.

Vietnam is the world’s fifth-largest rice-producing country and is also one of its leading rice exporters. Rice production remains a key sector in the economy of Vietnam. Rice is cultivated on 82 per cent of the country’s arable land, it employs the majority of its working age population in the agricultural sector, and it provides 80 per cent carbohydrate and 40 per cent protein of the average Vietnamese.

Rice production in Vietnam has continuously increased, from 25 million tons in 1995 to almost 44 million tons in 2017 when rice exports were at 6 million tons. This remarkable achievement has mainly been the result of the agriculture-specific reforms that Vietnam launched in 1986 as part of the Doi Moi reforms that triggered the modernisation process of its economy. Due to the importance that rice has in the overall economy of Vietnam both as a source of income for its farmers and a food staple for its population, a lot of efforts have been made to ensure food security and rice self-sufficiency.

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