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Capital accumulation and peasants' disempowerment in the dairy sector in Vietnam: an institutionalist perspective

Duteurtre G., Pannier E.. 2019. Lille : Université de Lille, p. 1-25. International conference: ¿The Diversity of Asian Capitalisms: a comparative analysis in the context of globalization¿, 2019-06-13/2019-06-15, Lille (France).

This paper presents some features of today's Vietnamese agrarian capitalism. Our study focuses on the dairy sector, which has been greatly concerned by private firms' investment and industrialization, in connexion with a dynamic peasant economy. In order to understand competition and complementarities between farmers and private firms in the dairy sector, we analyze 4 types of "social rules" that we discuss in the method section: governance structure, property rights, rules of exchange and corporate control. Our conceptual framework is applied to one of the most dynamic milk shed located in Hanoi city, where we conducted field visits. Our results show that the rise of private capitalist firms results from various economic reforms that have entirely transformed the governance structures of the whole Vietnamese economy. In the production sector, land property rights reforms have secured peasant family farms who remain the main providers of fresh milk, despite the rise of industrial farms set-up by dairy firms. The development of written contracts between companies and farmers, as well as the establishment of quality specifications, tend to make the rules of exchange more formalized. These transformations are part of a gradual change in the conceptions expressed by local stakeholders on the political project related to the sector in favor of capital accumulation in private firms. We observe that those social rules result from power relations, conflicts and alliances between actors. They also are hybridized with surviving interpersonal networks. Balancing the respective roles of farmers and private firms in the emerging market economy requires precautious policy decisions. The future of family farming relies in particular on the governance of land property rights. Farmers' future will also be heavily influenced by their capacity to engage in formalized transactions with processing industries, thereby accepting a kind of disempowerment.

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