Vietnam is a country located in Southeast Asia, residing on the coast of the South China Sea to the east, the Gulf of Thailand to the south, bordering the countries Laos and Cambodia to the west, and China to its north. Overcome with the vast disparities of the Vietnam War from 1960-75, significant agricultural and overall ecological loss has affected the country and left the people undernourished, and with a lack of food. For this reason a sustainable agriculture solution of blank is need to increase agricultural production, decrease harmful pesticide and herbicide use, and increase the environmental prosperity for the health and benefit of all people in Vietnam.
Amidst the dense rainforests, the long flowing waters of the Mekong and Red Rivers, sunk in with the soft blue water beaches of Nha Trang, and other scenic destinations lies a population numbering 97,040,334 people (Central Intelligence Agency, 2019), and a country that just under 45 years ago was part of one of the most deadly wars in the 20th century. This war, The Vietnam War, killed millions of Vietnamese people, and caused vast economic harm to the country by its end in 1975.
However, since then Vietnam has come a long way economically, especially with the help of the free-market economic reform called Doi Moi launched in 1986 by the Vietnamese government (Hays, 2014). Even today, Vietnam is making great economic achievements by being one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This is shown by the 7.1% GDP increase in 2018 (World Bank Group, 2018) compared to the United States GDP increase of 3.2% in the same year (Kliesen, 2018).
The average family size in Vietnam is 3.8 people (Household size and composition around the world 2017 data booklet, 2017). Most of the population’s 54 ethnic groups live in stilt houses largely made up of wood, bamboo, rattan, or cane. These houses are on stilts due to the country’s monsoon season, thus preventing waters from sweeping away belongings during periods of high water (Admin, 2014).
Diet of the Vietnamese people largely consists of rice (eaten in all three meals of the day), noodles, and all types of meat including most prevalently seafood based meals (Hays, 2014). Almost half of the countries population works in agriculture, forestry, and fishing (General Statistics Office of Vietnam, 2011), however due to a focus on industrialization by the government, nearly 1 million jobs are shifted every year from agriculture into industry (Trines, 2017).
The people of Vietnam have increased their standing both economically, and socially. Vietnamese people, although still relatively poor compared to the rest of the world, have now been granted accessibility to many things through their country’s ever increasing frugality. Large parts of the country have become urbanized, including most of the major cities, and while the urban population is only 35.9%, it continues to increase higher every year (Central Intelligence Agency, 2019). Increase of access to electricity has also made great strides. As much as 99% of people have access to electricity, and in conjunction the literacy rates have also increased to 94.5% (Central Intelligence Agency, 2019). This increase is greater shown by people enrolled in higher education in Vietnam, which only numbered 133,000 people in 1987, and was totalling 2.12 million students by 2015 (Trines, 2017).
With new technology, and revolutionary techniques in sustainable agriculture, farmers in Vietnam are able to get more crop for less input of work and funds, while creating a more disease resistant plant, and a healthier overall environment. The overall goal of all sustainable agriculture is to meet society’s food and textile needs in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Feenstra, 2019). However, unlike many developed countries, Vietnam has only recently started to use sustainable agriculture to improve their farming.
Vietnam did not have a very good start on their road to sustainability. Along with the millions of people killed during the Vietnam War, there was another major problem that would last much longer in the country, and would cause countless more deaths. Due to the guerilla warfare style of fighting employed by the North Vietnamese during the War, the United States sought out many tactics to destroy the vegetation that the opposition so heavily relied on.
For the next 20 years of the war, there were over 7.5 million tons of bombs and other ordnance dropped on Vietnam, compared to the 2.1 million tons of munitions during all of World War II (Ganzel, 2007). Also employed by the U.S. government was many types of herbicidal chemical agents, most notably that of Agent Orange. The U.S. sprayed over 20 million gallons of herbicide over 6 million acres of Vietnam with specific intent to kill vital farmland, and any forest in its way. The U.S. destroyed millions of acres of land in what can only be described as an ecocide (Ganzel, 2007).
This ecocide had many effects towards the Vietnamese population, but one of the greatest was its effect on agriculture. Due to the loss of farmland during the war, Vietnam went from being a net exporter of rice (48,563 metric tons exported in 1965) to a net importer the next year. By 1968, Vietnam was importing over 677,000 tons of rice to feed its people, and by 1977 effects had deprived some 600,000 Vietnamese of their normal food supply (Ganzel, 2007). This especially affected those of ethnic minorities which have low socioeconomic standing (Listening to the views and needs of poor and marginalized people, 2019).
Fortunately, there has been much change to farming practices. Since the introduction of the economic reforms of Doi Moi, Vietnam’s agriculture has made impressive progress, including recent partnerships with agribusiness companies in which more than 93,400 farmers were trained on sustainable farming techniques and technologies (World Bank Group, 2016). While agriculture in Vietnam is not the best, this marks a point of great change within the country.