The Socialist Republic of Vietnam and IRRI have been partners since 1963, in a wide range of collaboration in the fields of rice breeding material exchange, rice varietal improvement, resource management, and capacity building.
Since 1963, Vietnam and IRRI have enjoyed a long, fruitful history of collaboration, starting with the release of IR8 in both the northern and southern delta rice-growing areas. In 1978, an IRRI team headed by then Director General N.C. Brady visited Vietnam upon the invitation of the Minister of Agriculture Vo Chi Cong. A memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Ministry and IRRI laid the foundation for work for the succeeding decades.
Through IRRI and Vietnam partnerships, Vietnamese farmers are now able to maximize the full potential of the high-yielding rice varieties being grown in the Mekong and Red River Deltas. Vietnam placed high value on their collaboration with IRRI. From their initial areas of collaboration, Vietnam and IRRI are expanding their partnership to include rice production in the upland ecosystem, environmental issues, and grain quality.
In 1992, IRRI established its office in Hanoi to support futher collaboration. IRRI’s contribution to Vietnam’s achievements was recognized through Vietnam’s First Class Friendship Order that was awarded to IRRI during the IRRI-led International Rice Congress held in 2010.
In 2011, a report from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) evaluated the economic impact and value of IRRI's breeding work in Vietnam between 1985 and 2009. Findings showed that rice farmers in southern Vietnam achieved average annual yield increases of 9.8%, or an additional USD127 per hectare from IRRI's breeding contributions alone.
In 2014, Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat requested IRRI to help Vietnam develop a rice restructuring plan that will help the country position its rice industry for future growth and markets. The proposed technical assistance (TA) package aligns with priorities of the Vietnamese government and aims for a restructuring of the rice sector into “a more efficient and market-oriented value chain that is quality-based, environment-friendly, climate-smart, competitive, and inclusive.”
Planting modern rice varieties of short duration, improved management of resources, and appropriate government policies are responsible for Vietnam’s consistent self-sufficiency in rice since 1985. Vietnam and IRRI worked hand in hand in areas of varietal improvement, conservation of rice diversity, sustainable farming systems, and in the continued strengthening of human resources capabilities.
Improvement of rice varieties
The highlight of IRRI and Vietnam’s has been the exchange of rice breeding materials. It started with the introduction of the first semi-dwarf rice variety – IR8 – in 1968. Current collaborations are: Green super rice for the resource-poor of Africa and Asia; Hybrid Rice Development Consortium (HRDC); enhancing and stabilizing the productivity of salt‐affected areas by incorporating genes for tolerance of abiotic stresses in rice; developing molecular markers to enable selection against chalk in rice; dodeling the impacts of Bt transgene flow on lepidopteran food web structure and stability on wild rice in vietnam; and engineering rice for high beta-carotene, vitamin E and enhanced Fe and Zn bioavailability
Climate change research
IRRI leads the regional program for Southeast Asia of CCAFS. IRRI works with Vietnamese institutions on climate-smart agriculture (CSA) policies, evaluation of CSA practices (e.g., alternate wetting and drying, climate-smart varieties, and ICT-based climate information) and upscaling/outscaling approaches. IRRI is also working with local governments and partners in establishing climate-smart villages (CSVs) that will showcase integrated and systems approaches in promoting CSA practices and technologies.
Help for salt-prone areas
An ICT-enabled decision-support tool for salinity monitoring and advisory for rice farmers in salt-affected communes is being pilot-tested in Vietnam.
Rice straw management
Scalable management options for rice straw are developed or documented to help improve farmer income and help make rice production sustainable as well as reduce its environmental footprint.
Sustainable rice farming systems
IRRI is working closely with Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute (CLRRI) in reversing the trends of declining productivity in intensive irrigated rice lands of the Mekong Delta. Recent researches in integrated pest management, integrated nutrient management, improved water management and rice-based farming systems are adding new dimensions to developing sustainable intensive agriculture in Vietnam. Current collaboration is on the project, “Rice landscape management for raising water productivity, conserving resources and improving livelihoods in upper catchments of the Mekong and Red River basins.”
Addressing pest and diseases
IRRI and Vietnam have been working closely to address pest and diseases in the country. Current collaborations are: rice greasy stunt virus in Mekong delta - virus characterization evaluation of potential breeding lines for virus resistance; and implementation of rodent management in intensive irrigated rice production systems in Indonesia and Vietnam.
Improved grain quality and value
IRRI and Vietnam have also been ddressing postharvest concerns to increase the value of rice produced, as well as improving grain quality through nutrition. Current collaborations are: bringing about a sustainable agronomic revolution in rice production in Asia by reducing preventable pre- and postharvest losses; and enhancing profitability of rice farming in Asia through improved nutrient and crop management.
Productive rice in the uplands
Through the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE), IRRI works with the Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute of Vietnam to help farmers build terraces for rice to replace cultivation on fragile steep slopes, and deliver suitable upland varieties.
IRRI has been working with partners and networks to address the overarching issue of poverty in the country through rice research. We have worked within the platforms of the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC), Phase IV - platform for poverty alleviation, and the enablement of poor rice farmers to improve livelihoods and overcome poverty in South and Southeast Asia through the CURE.
GENETIC DIVERSITY CONSERVATION
Vietnam’s participation in IRRI’s rice biodiversity conservation program has resulted in more than 3,000 types of rice submitted to the International Rice Genebank. The Genebank has dispatched more than 2,700 rice samples to Vietnam. The local varieties Tetep and Moc Tuyen have been used as parents in hybridization work at IRRI and have been of value in breeding programs in many other countries. Since 1995, IRRI has collaborated with Vietnamese institutions to carry out research on on-farm conservation of the rice gene pools.
Improved rice seeding
As of 2014, 90 IRRI breeding lines had been released as varieties in Vietnam.
Good Agricultural Practices
Introduced to farmers through the Mot Phai, Nam Giam, or One Must Do, Five Reductions program. This program builds upon the success of the Three Reductions, Three Gains (Ba Giam, Ba Tang or 3G3T) program, an IRRI-led project that motivated rice farmers in the Mekong Delta to modify three resource management practices – seed, fertilizer, and insecticide use.
Approved by farmers and about 27.38% of these seeds have been applied to rice-growing areas.
Wet season paddy harvest, dried in mechanical dryer heated by rice straw on about 15.5% of He Thu rice production.
In July 2004, a soap opera series designed to communicate integrated pest management (IPM) principles and practices to rice farmers in Vietnam was launched in Vinh Long, Vietnam. The project in 2005, won a World Bank Development Marketplace Award.
In 2006, IRRI, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) of Vietnam and the World Bank, formally launched the Environmental Radio Soap Opera for Rural Vietnam.
Improved farming systems
An IRRI-led rice landscape management project is collaborating with national organizations in validating technologies and suitable rice varieties for the sloping uplands, as well as improving the upland rice-based cropping system. In the region’s lowland paddies, hybrid and high-yielding inbred rice varieties for the spring season, and inbred short-duration summer paddy varieties have been identified.
Human resource development is also an important part of the Vietnam-IRRI collaboration. As of 2013, IRRI had hosted about 300 scholars and more than 500 trainees from Vietnam. Many IRRI alumni hold important positions in Vietnam’s government agencies and universities.
Vietnam primarily has a rice-based agricultural economy. Rice is cultivated on 82% of the arable land. It provides 80% carbohydrate and 40% protein intake of the average Vietnamese. Most of the rice grown in Vietnam is in two rich deltas of the north and south - Red River and Mekong, respectively. About 52% of Vietnam’s rice is produced in the Mekong River Delta and another 18% in the Red River Delta.
In 2010, Vietnam is a leading rice producer and exporter in the world. However, a few decades ago, the rice situation in Vietnam was in stark contrast to what it is today. In the 1960s, the country imports rice due to a largely stagnant domestic production. The adoption of high-yielding rice varieties that helped increase Asia's rice production did not flourish as expected as it was interrupted by the Vietnam War. It was not until after the war in 1975, that Vietnam embarked on the road to rice self-sufficiency and it never looked back since - achieving sufficiency in 1985 and the succeeding years.
In 1981, Vietnam departed from the collective agricultural production system by introducing the group-oriented contract system of production. That was changed to individual contracts in 1986 when the Sixth Party Congress approved a broad economic reform package called “Doi Moi” policy. Since then, Vietnam became one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
The institutional reform encouraged farmers to produce more rice. Moreover, trade liberalization under the Doi Moi created favorable conditions for the rice industry. Within less than two decades, after being a chronic rice importer, the country re-emerged in the world rice market as a sustainable rice supplier and it became one of the world’s largest rice exporters, with exports averaging 3–4 million tons in recent years. Rice production in Vietnam increased as a result of yield improvement and, in particular, the expansion of planted area induced by the improvement of the heavily subsidized irrigation system.
Based on World Rice Statistics (FAO, 2008), the harvested area of rough rice was 7,414,000 hectares; rough rice production was 38,725,000 tons; and rough rice yield was 5.22 tons per hectare.
Dr. Leocadio Sebastian
IRRI -CCAFS SEA Regional Office
Agricultural Genetics Institute
KM 2- Duong Pham Van Dong
Tu Liem, Hanoi
Mobile: +84 165 3489784 (L.Sebastian)
Mobile: +84 903 251635 (Dung Thi Kim Dinh)
- Vietnamese president visits IRRI, 27 October 2011
- IRC2010: Vietnamese Prime Minister addresses 1,958 Rice Congress delegates
- Vietnamese--Lúa và chuôt (Of rice and rats): Introduction to ecological rodent management
You may also view IRRI's YouTube playlist about Vietnam.
Media release and news items
- Vietnamese university discusses partnership with IRRI
- “Super rice” to reach more poor farmers in Asia and Africa
- Vietnam can prepare for salinity and drought, experts say
- More Asian rice farmers to benefit from CORIGAP technologies
- Vietnam: CURE and MARD plan upscaling innovation for upland rice environments
- Vietnam agriculture ministry and CGIAR align development agenda
Rice Today features
- A glimmer of hope for Vietnam’s white gold
- Breeding rice for short- and long-term floods in Vietnam
- Vietnam turns back a tsunami of pesticides (Rice Today Jan-Mar 2014)