Rice farming futures and climate change in Vietnam

La Trobe researchers are collaborating with farmers, academics and unions to study rice farmers’ preferences for their agricultural futures

Rice farming in Southern Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta produces almost half the country’s rice. Around 80% of the region’s population of 17.3 million are engaged in the industry, mostly on smallholder allotments.

Climate change is now impacting farming in the region, with rising temperatures, water scarcity and increased salinity threatening to reduce the opportunities for rice growing from three seasons a year to one.

Researchers have identified the drivers of agricultural change. But how rice farmers see their future in the industry has not been explored, until now.

Dr Wilmsen is leading a research team to investigate whether farmers are practicing their own forms of environmental protection, or reimagining government initiatives in ways that could offer valuable insights to a nation focused on technical solutions.

The findings will help to inform policy and assist smallholders to identify the most effective and sustainable interventions for their everyday work.

The team will also co-produce a report with the farmers of Ang Giang and Tra Vinh provinces, the Climate Change Institute at An Giang University, and the Farmer’s Union to advocate smallholder preferences for a better farming future.

“In consultation with our participants, our report will be sent to the provincial governments of Tra Vinh and An Giang to inform socially acceptable and relevant interventions in rice farming in the Mekong River Delta,” says Wilmsen.

She hopes her research will have a positive impact on agricultural sustainability in the Mekong River Delta, while supporting farmers’ preferences for their agricultural futures.

“I also hope the project leads to a much larger investigation that will unite La Trobe researchers in the agricultural sciences, freshwater ecology and the social sciences with technicians, researchers and farmers in the Mekong River Delta, to improve community resilience and agricultural sustainability in the face of environmental and climate threats more broadly,” she says.

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