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Structural transformation, agriculture and livestock in Vietnam (1970-2015) A multi-scale political economy of an ongoing revolution

Nguyen M.H., Dorin B., Duteurtre G.. 2017. In : 11 ème Journées de recherches en sciences scociales. Lyon : SFER, p. 1-34. Journées de Recherches en Sciences Sociales (JRSS). 11, 2017-12-14/2017-12-15, Lyon (France).

Vietnam has exhibited rapid economic growth over thirty years of comprehensive economic reforms. However, about half of the country's active population remains in agriculture. In order to characterize the role of agriculture and livestock in Vietnam's structural transformation, we assess ongoing dynamics at three complementary scales: national, sectoral (agriculture and livestock) and local (district of Bavi). We show that the transition since Doi Moi (Renovation) has given rise to a political economy that provides incentives to industries and services. However, labor abundance (due to population density) and limited land availability (85% of agricultural land is composed of less than 1 ha farms) have slowed the canonical structural transformation, and widened income inequality between agriculture and non-agricultural workers. In this 'Lewis trap' context, intensive livestock (as it is the case for aquaculture and horticulture) has played a significant role in increasing labor and land productivity, offering some perspectives to secure smallholder agricultural systems. But the emergence of those very intensive systems producing a lot of effluents has in the same time jeopardized sustainable development of rural and peri-urban areas. More recently, the political shift towards industrial corporate agriculture and large-scale farming has increased this pressure on the environment, and endangered inclusive agricultural development. Today, smallholder farming and rural communities encounter many challenges to exploit resources efficiently and gain access to input markets to achieve higher productivity and value added. To avoid the risk of poverty trap and to pursue a sustainable and inclusive development over the long run, deeper and wider reforms are needed based on smallholder viability, agroecological principles, and crop-livestock integration.

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