Rice production in the delta of the Vu Gia Thu Bon River Basin in Central Vietnam

Type Working Paper
Title Rice production in the delta of the Vu Gia Thu Bon River Basin in Central Vietnam
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Despite high pressures for agricultural land conversion, increasing competition for water, and the low net
benefits of rice production, rice is still by far the predominant farm occupation in the Vu Gia Thu Bon
basin in Central Vietnam. This study examined the reasons for such persistence, by surveying and
analyzing a comprehensive set of qualitative (planting and harvesting dates) and quantitative data (yields,
labor and non-labor inputs, prices) for all the crops present in the cropping systems of 113 farms in the
region. The net benefit derived from rice production was on average 23M VND ha-1
, with a relatively low
labor input of 144 man-days per ha-1
. The net benefits generated by vegetable production are more than 9
times higher (ca. 215M VND ha-1
) with a labor demand of ca. 928 man-days ha-1
. Despite the very high
net benefits of vegetable production, in this region they do not translate into an equivalently high added
value per ha and man-day. These values are ‘only’ nearly double than those for rice, and not much higher
than those for watermelon, chili and groundnut. The results indicate that farmers’ decisions for not rushing
in diversifying production to vegetables are wise when looking at the high risks of vegetable production,
shortage of on-farm labor resources, and high opportunity costs of non-farm labor opportunities. Thereby,
without improvements in vegetable technologies, labor efficiency, and marketing, farmers will not have
incentives to invest in such high value crops. Rice is a robust crop and a pillar of families’ food security,
demanding low labor inputs. Under current conditions, farmers will most probably continue
predominantly cropping rice. There is nevertheless the need to improve the rice system. Technical
efficiency of rice production in the delta of the VGTB basin is 78%, a low figure if compared to recent
estimations of 86% for the Vietnamese Mekong and Red River deltas. The small scale of production, land
fragmentation and irrigation challenges due to salinity intrusion are the main factors impacting on
technical efficiency in the region.

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