Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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In a paradigm shift aimed at sustainable development, Vietnam is transitioning its agricultural strategy from a production-volume-centered approach to one that prioritizes profitability, environmental preservation, and farmer incomes. This shift is expected to rejuvenate the rural ecosystem and augment the income of farmers, which ironically has decreased over time despite increasing agricultural output and export revenue.

At the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), Vietnam committed to a net-zero emissions target by 2050 and proposed a 30% emissions reduction by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. At the following COP27, the country increased its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets, indicating a more aggressive stance in combating climate change. The unconditional NDC target for agriculture by 2030 has been hiked from 6.8 million tons (NDC 2020) to 12.4 million tons (NDC 2022), while the conditional NDC target has been increased from 32.6 million tons to 50.9 million tons. Meeting these ambitious targets would require around $2.1 billion and $16.1 billion to achieve the conditional and unconditional targets, respectively.

Vietnam’s agricultural sector has been displaying its robust role in the global agricultural supply chain, underpinned by an impressive export performance in 2022, the effective utilization of Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects, and staunch support from international partners.

Rice farming, a major greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter in Vietnam’s agriculture sector, contributes about 49.6 million tons of CO2 equivalent annually. Transitioning to low-carbon rice production presents an enormous opportunity for the country to curtail its GHG emissions, particularly methane.

The Vietnam Sustainable Agriculture Transformation Project (VNSAT), financed by the World Bank, demonstrated the potential benefits of adopting improved rice farming methods. Implementing the “1 Must 5 Reduction” methodology, encompassing certified seeds, reduction in the number of sown seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, water usage, and post-harvest losses, could not only elevate yields and net profits for farmers but also substantially cut GHG emissions. By June 2022, VNSAT had achieved an estimated annual reduction of 1.5 million tons of CO2 equivalent.

The project’s success has created a roadmap for upscaling similar initiatives across the country. With sufficient government support in terms of infrastructure and large-scale agricultural extension services, replicating such advanced farming methods in the remaining core rice areas in the Mekong Delta could potentially help reduce over 9 million tons of CO2 equivalent annually. The seven-year VNSAT Project (2015-2022) has been acclaimed as an exceptional model of international cooperation in agriculture.

Building on the VNSAT’s success, the World Bank is assisting Vietnam in securing $100 million from global funds for carbon payments for rice farming in the Mekong Delta. Concurrently, the Low-carbon Agriculture Value Chain Development Project, a successor to VNSAT, is in the pipeline.

With the support of international partners, Vietnam’s agriculture is progressively transforming to align with green growth objectives. This shift demonstrates the country’s rising stature in the global community in terms of sustainable development, emissions reduction, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, Director of the Department of International Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, emphasized Vietnam’s commitment to responsible and sustainable agricultural development. He expressed hope that international partners will continue to bolster their cooperation with Vietnam in developing green and sustainable agriculture, thereby contributing to global food security.

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