Date released
12 January 2024

Over the decades, the ACIAR-supported research collaborations have not just addressed critical issues but played a pivotal role in establishing new and profitable industries. These partnerships have significantly contributed to the enhancement of Vietnam’s research capacity and the widespread adoption of transformative technologies that have changed the livelihoods of many smallholder farmers. 

As we embark on this journey of reflection and celebration, join us in exploring 30 captivating images that encapsulate the essence of our enduring partnerships in Vietnam. These pictures hail from diverse projects within various research and capacity-building programs.

Here’s to 30 more years of a high-performing, innovative and fruitful partnership with Vietnam!

Research helps create new and profitable industries

Oysters in northern Vietnam

ACIAR-funded research underpinned a new and expanding oyster industry that now employs 3,000 people and generates 1530,000 tonnes of oysters each year. Most of the oysters are produced by smallholder farmers in coastal communities, while others make a living from processing and marketing the oyster. Before the first ACIAR project to build oyster hatchery production capacity in 2007, there was no commercial oyster industry in northern Vietnam.

Acacia plantations

Vietnamese researchers discovered acacia hybridisation techniques in the late 1980s through an ACIAR-supported project. This knowledge initiated 12 subsequent ACIAR-funded initiatives that helped bring forward Vietnam's acacia breeding research and its sustainable development of acacia plantations.

Today, Vietnam's acacia industry has about 2-million hectare plantations, generating approximately A$27 billion in 2022. Fast-growing acacia hybrids have empowered rural households with diversified farm opportunities, improved land use, and higher-wage employment for poorer families participating in the growing, harvesting, transporting and processing of wood.

An independent assessment in 2018 revealed a remarkable benefit-to-cost ratio of 145:1, showcasing the significant economic impact of the ACIAR-supported breeding program.

Vegetables in northwest Vietnam

For more than a decade, ACIAR supported the development of a safe vegetable industry in  northwest Vietnam to improve production standards and enhance smallholder farmer income.

The industry now produces 70,000 tonnes of safe, high-quality vegetables each year, generating A$30.5 million in net farm income and helping more than 10,000 farmers significantly increase their profits. The number of poor households, particularly among ethnic minorities, has notably reduced in Van Ho district from 30% to 7%, with vegetable production playing a key role.

The main focus of the research was to support farmer groups obtain VietGAP accreditation, increase production and supply high-quality, safe vegetables from the northwest region to retailers in Hanoi and other places where customers are happy to pay premium prices for quality produce. The related projects include: AGB/2009/053AGB/2014/035, and AGB/2012/059

Grouper breeding

An ACIAR-funded initiative has helped create a sustainable grouper farming industry in Vietnam through innovation in breeding work to create a new hybrid grouper, a cross between a male giant grouper and a female tiger grouper. These hybrids comprised 50% of the total grouper production in 2018. Farmers of hybrid groupers have enjoyed higher income as consumers pay premium prices for the new fish variety. Shorter farming time and increased survival during the grow-out of the hybrids yield has also contributed to higher profits. Farmers in Central Vietnam have enjoyed the greatest gains, with an average profit of US$8,741 (A$12,900) per year.

Research for sustainable and resilient livelihoods


ACIAR supported decade-long initiatives to successfully support smallholder farmer households in northwest Vietnam to establish agroforestry systems on their sloping lands. More than 600 farmers have benefited from training to manage their agroforestry farms and produce high-quality seedlings to reduce cost and minimise chemical use. Some ethnic minority leading farmers have established cooperatives to improve their production and market linkages.

The research highlights how incorporating trees into farming landscapes can improve profitability, improve soil fertility and minimise soil erosion. The project has also provided evidence for Vietnam’s local and central authorities to consider wider agroforestry development.

Rice–shrimp farming systems

ACIAR-funded project SMCN/2010/083 focused on creating profitable and climate-resilient riceshrimp farming systems in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, addressing challenges like high salinity jeopardising rice productivity. The project empowered farmers to employ smart soil management techniques like removing mud from shrimp ponds and using lime to reduce soil salinity enhancing rice productivity. Furthermore, utilising shrimp farming mud as rice fertiliser could minimise environmental impacts and cut costs, improving sustainability in saline-affected regions. The farming techniques tested by the project have been widely adopted in other Mekong provinces with large riceshrimp farms, including Bac Lieu, Ca Mau and Kien Giang.

New crop options under saline conditions

ACIAR is investing in a 5-year project to help Mekong Delta farmers replace saline-affected rice production with profitable crop alternatives.

The project has successfully tested crops with higher salt tolerance, efficient water usage, and shorter harvest periods to enable farmers to harvest before saline intrusion. By using protective mulching on the new crops, the farmers are very excited about the productivity and the corresponding yield income: red beet triples, watermelon quadruples and maize increases 1.5 times compared to crops without mulching.

The project also introduced the Chameleon Soil Water Sensor, an affordable electronic soil water sensor, reducing water usage by 40% for upland crops, further contributing to increased productivity and farming income.

Fruit-fly bait

ACIAR-supported projects (AGB/1998/005 and AGB/2007/187) have successfully produced and commercialised fruit-fly bait using yeast from beer production. 

Before the project, Vietnamese farmers could lose up to 90% of their crops to fruit flies because there was neither local knowledge nor practical tools to combat the pest. Using pesticides would be problematic in a landscape where open water is used for farming and domestic water supply.

The project developed a low-cost bait for specific fruit-fly species, which was safe for users and the environment. ACIAR also supported product commercialisation through brewery companies in Hanoi and in the Mekong Delta. The protein bait is derived from the brewery's leftover yeast, providing both a commercial benefit to the brewery and a low-cost fruit-fly control for farmers.

Beef intensification in northwest Vietnam

ACIAR has invested more than A$10.5 million to improve the livelihoods and capacity of beef cattle smallholder farmers, especially those from ethnic minority communities, in Dien Bien Province – one of the poorest provinces in Vietnam. 

The latest project has helped farmers adopt new and effective intensification techniques to increase income and start their new community-based businesses. Around 400 smallholder families have benefited from the project’s research and capacity-building initiatives that have helped strengthen their intensive production and business market links. 

After 10 years of joining the two-phased project, Dien Bien’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has improved its livestock management capacity and successfully developed a 5-year program with a budget of 29 billion VND (A$1.7 million) for a market-oriented livestock development program for the province.

Food safety and biosecurity

Cassava breeding

In a relatively short period, an ACIAR-funded project has achieved critical results in the fight against emerging cassava diseases in South-East Asia. In 5 years researchers worked to successfully introduce 6 new cassava mosaic disease-resistant varieties and develop a future outlook for the cassava industry focusing on strengthening smallholder livelihoods and economic development in the region. Cassava provides livelihoods for around 2 million smallholder growers and fuels an ever-growing global trade, with the cassava roots, starch and chips market worth around A$6 billion annually.

Safe pork

The SafePORK project successfully improved food safety in Vietnam's pork industry by collaborating with wet market retailers and small-scale abattoirs.

As pork is highly susceptible to Salmonella contamination, SafePORK introduced simple, cost-effective measures such as using clean cutting boards and aprons at retail levels and employing ozonized water and inox grids to raise the pork off the floor in abattoirs. These interventions reduced Salmonella prevalence by 28% along the smallholder pork value chains.

SafePORK researchers played a crucial role in Vietnam's preparation for the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September 2021. Their findings significantly contributed to the development of Vietnam's National Action Plan post-Summit, emphasising access to safe and nutritious food. Additionally, the International Livestock Research Institute, the organisation overseeing SafePORK, led the Food Safety Technical Working Group within Vietnam's One Health Partnership, facilitating collaboration among stakeholders for improved food safety coordination.

Food loss (pangasius catfish value chain)

For centuries, Pangasius catfish has been a vital, nutritious staple for Mekong River Delta communities. The evolving catfish farming industry helps enhance food security and livelihoods, and boasts a US $2.5 billion (A$3.7 billion) export value in 2022 for Vietnam.

New ACIAR-supported research spanning Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, is aiming to optimise pangasius catfish value chains, identifying and addressing bottlenecks causing waste. Despite Vietnam's leading innovations in product diversification, there are still significant losses in the whole value chain, especially the fingerling production. This project is the first in the region dedicated to tackling food loss and waste throughout the entire pangasius value chain.

The project also presents a great opportunity for innovation exchange and learning between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Research for women empowerment

Indigenous vegetable in Bac Ha

An ACIAR project empowered smallholder women vegetable farmers in Lao Cai Province to better engage with high-value markets through participating in farmer business schools. The project successfully identified the specific needs of the women and ethnic minority smallholder farmers, then assisted with improving farming practices and growing diverse crops to take advantage of market opportunities. Farming techniques introduced by Vietnamese researchers also helped farmers reduce farming time and labour, enabling them to enjoy various livelihood benefits. Their families also benefited from nutritional improvements from crop changes, particularly indigenous vegetables.

A recent independent evaluation has found that many participating Vietnamese women have improved their product quality and price thanks to participating in value chains.

Gender transformative approach in agriculture development

Researchers on a project supported by ACIAR and the Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have analysed a suite of tools to promote fair treatment of Thai ethnic minority women cultivating Arabica coffee in northwest Vietnam.

Tools such as the 24-hour activity clock, role playing, problem tree analysis, couple dialogues, storytelling and drawing activities shed light on women’s extensive labour. One participant, viewing his wife’s clock, acknowledged that he needed to change and support her with housework.

The project's success lies in demonstrating how tailored tools enhance gender relations, empowering women in both the household and on the farm.

Women champion farmers (vegetables in Moc Chau)

The new vegetable industry is a major employer of women and ethnic minority groups. In Moc Chau and Van Ho districts, 55% of the farmers are women and are fully engaged in running businesses, planning, decision making and marketing.

In Van Ho district, most women have been participating in vegetable production, substantially contributing to an increase in family income and resulting in women being more economically empowered. Women have improved their knowledge and skills and have become more confident to communicate with people outside their kinship group.

One compelling success story is that of Ms Dinh Thi Xoa, a 61-year-old farmer from Van Ho. As a pioneer in the project, she established the Van Ho Safe Vegetable Cooperative, guiding 7 household members through the unfamiliar process of growing and supplying safe vegetables.

Despite initial challenges, the cooperative persevered and expanded, cultivating VietGAP vegetables on almost 15 hectares. Ms Xoa's group successfully sold over 230 tonnes of vegetables to major supermarkets, earning nearly 2 billion dong (around A$160,000) in 2018.

Research for innovation

As one of ACIAR’s key beneficiaries are smallholder farmer households, our science-backed innovation are naturally designed around simple, inexpensive interventions so that they can easily adopt and change farming behaviours.

Mini-pan for efficient water management

In the south-central coastal region of Vietnam, farming communities grapple with infertile sandy soils and water shortages. ACIAR invested in 5 projects from 2007-19, totalling A$5.4 million, to address these issues.

Murdoch University and Agricultural Science Institute for Southern Coastal Central of Vietnam (ASISOV) led a research partnership introducing simple water-saving and nutrient technologies for peanuts and mangoes, resulting in increased yields and reduced water usage. For instance, using sprinklers and mini-pan technology for peanuts in Binh Dinh province led to a 32% water reduction and a 12% yield increase. Similar successes were observed in mango cultivation, with water savings of up to 54% and improved fruit quality.

ASISOV has also explored 'drip fertigation' and are developing a water balance model to guide sustainable farming practices amidst climate challenges.

Control H5N1 transmission in ducks

In 2013, Vietnam faced unprecedented avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus, and there were no proper epidemic prevention measures in the country. In response, ACIAR funded a project to investigate the role of domestic ducks in transmitting and maintaining highly pathogenic H5N1 virus for better managing the HPAI outbreak.

The project successfully identified management factors that reduced the risk of an HPAI disease outbreak or H5N1 infection occurring, including completing a full course of vaccination, confining duck flocks on the farm, preventing ducks scavenging around neighbouring houses and avoiding consumption of carcasses.

The project impacted the design of other research projects on avian influenza in both Indonesia and Vietnam. The risk factors determined in the project could be used to provide recommendations to farmers to reduce the likelihood of HPAI infection and disease in their duck flocks.

Developing sea cucumber industry in Khanh Hoa province

The economic and nutritional importance of sea cucumber to Asian communities triggered a collaborative research effort led by Research Institute for Aquaculture No 3 and the University of the Sunshine Coast to advance breeding and rearing techniques when the population started to decline.

The scientists from ACIAR project FIS/2016/122 have successfully co-cultured sandfish and Babylonia snails which improve profitability and water quality, reducing the environmental impacts of pond-based sandfish farming. By using Sargassum products as the supplemental feed for sea cucumber, the project has improved pond-culture methods, maximizing yield and value of crops.

In addition, the project has helped connect farmers and sand sea cucumber processing companies, contributing to the establishment of a sustainable sand sea cucumber production value chain in Vietnam. 

Research for community development

Ethnic famers established vegetables cooperatives

The vegetable project in northwest Vietnam has had a profound impact on the community, particularly in empowering ethnic minority farmers to elevate their agribusiness.

One compelling success story is that of Mr Vang A Sa, a Hmong farmer from Bo Nhang village. Through training and support, he established the Bo Nhang 2 cooperative, significantly increasing his family's income from around 10 million VND (A$610) to almost 100 million VND (A$6,100) annually.

Since its commencement in 2015, more farmers in the area are participating in developing and expanding the scale of VietGAP vegetable production, helping establish supply chains into Hanoi and accessing high-value markets to achieve higher incomes.

Improving livelihoods and farmer-led business through agroforestry

The agroforestry project in northwest Vietnam has significantly expanded the agroforestry community, benefiting over 600 farmers. 
Through extensive training, smallholder farmers successfully applied agroforestry, improving local livelihoods.

Leading farmers have formed cooperatives, enhancing production and market linkages, and contributing to the collective economic development. They have also improved teamwork, public speaking, decision-making and confidence in implementing agroforestry.

The project also focused on building business capacity of farmers, exemplified by nursery groups producing quality seedlings for agroforestry systems and seedling businesses. Notably, women actively participated in these capacity-building activities, developing skills and sharing knowledge within their communities.

Partnership and capacity building with local agricultural officers have been pivotal, creating trusted advisors for agroforestry adoption and policy development.

The project's comprehensive approach has garnered widespread support, creating a positive ripple effect on community development and environmental sustainability.

Temperate Fruit Association in northwest Vietnam

Since early 2000s, ACIAR has invested in research to enhance the competitiveness of ethnic minority households in northwest Vietnam’s temperate fruit markets. In 2020, ACIAR supported the establishment of the Son La Temperate Fruit Association, marking a crucial milestone for the industry.

With a modest investment, the Association developed an informative website offering the latest technical and market updates on plums, pears, peaches, persimmons and avocados. The Association also conducted trials for licensed Australian varieties. This strategic move, coupled with a commercialisation and royalty collection plan, aims to reduce reliance on limited temperate fruit types, preventing oversupply and subsequent price fluctuations.

Furthermore, ACIAR research encompassed processing facility audits and product evaluations. This comprehensive initiative positions the Son La Temperate Fruit Association as a key player in fostering sustainable industry development and long-term business ties between Australia and Vietnam.

Farmer groups doing beef intensification in northwest Vietnam

The ACIAR-backed initiative in Dien Bien Province, northwest Vietnam, has fostered the formation of beef cattle interest groups and cooperatives, facilitating the exchange of knowledge and techniques in cattle production. This collaborative effort has not only strengthened relationships among stakeholders but also built social capital within the community.

The project’s impact extends to the economic empowerment of farmers, enabling them to diversify activities beyond livestock management. Four hundred households have benefited from training and trialling with crop-livestock systems. Among 10 farmer groups were established with the project support, some groups have raised funds from members to subsequently lend to those in need. Two champion farmers have established cooperatives to support the beef cattle farmers in their community with access to high-price market and trade equality.

Through enhancing beef farming efficiency, the project has significantly increased farmer income, contributing to broader community benefits such as improved education, healthcare and agribusiness investment.

Capacity building

John Dillon Fellowship Vietnam – cohort 2021 in Australia

The John Dillon Fellowship (JDF) aims to enhance leadership and management skills for effective agricultural research in ACIAR partner countries. The 2021 cohort, comprising 18 researchers from Vietnam, concluded their extended leadership program in September 2023—remarkably the longest-running cohort program in JDF's history due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, the fellows engaged in collaborative projects addressing a range of issues such as priorities within a circular economy (scaling out of biochar production at a small scale), sustainable management of crop pest diseases, digital transformation for agricultural labour, improved and equitable livestock value chains, and enhancing partnerships among ACIAR and Vietnamese ministries for agricultural research and development. Hailing from diverse agricultural sectors, the fellows shared project findings and lessons learned, culminating in a graduation ceremony at ACIAR House in October 2023.

Vietnam alumni community

Since 1993, ACIAR has awarded 120 scholarships to Vietnamese researchers and agricultural managers to gain postgraduate qualifications in Australia through ACIAR capacity building programs —John Allwright Fellowship, John Dillon Fellowship, and Meryl William Fellowship.

These Vietnamese alumni have grown into a unified and collaborative community where the early-year researchers can learn from their senior colleagues and they can develop research ideas together. Many alumni have achieved significant success and have been promoted to leadership positions in many disciplines and sectors, within government, research institutions and the private sector.

Meryl William fellows

Dr Pham Thi Hoa is one of the first researchers to join the ACIAR Meryl Williams Fellowship (MWF) program, designed to empower women in agricultural science.

The fellowship has created many important and memorable milestones for Dr Hoa, from being awarded an ACIAR Alumni Research Support Facility (ARSF) grant in 2020 to quickly respond to vulnerabilities in agricultural systems exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Her research in Lam Dong Province investigated the strategies employed by flower and vegetable growers during the pandemic, and supported farmers and businesses in using digital and online trading tools to gain better market access.

The MWF and ARSF significantly boosted Dr Hoa's confidence, allowing her to apply acquired skills, and inspiring her to lead and influence. She now aspires to motivate fellow female agriculture professionals to turn their aspirations into reality.

Acacia breeding

ACIAR has played an instrumental role in advancing Vietnam's acacia plantations through many robust investments in tree breeding. A lasting scientific partnership between the Institute of Forest Tree Improvement and Biotechnology (IFTIB) of Vietnam, CSIRO and the University of Tasmania has thrived since 1993 through these projects. The research partnership has revolutionised Vietnamese breeding techniques, employing clonal propagation and polyploid breeding to accelerate the growth of superior Acacia individuals for plantations.

IFTIB has been leading Vietnam's acacia breeding, contributing numerous tree varieties that significantly enhance the nationwide plantation. Six IFTIB researchers who received John Allwright Fellowships and John Dillon Fellowships have undertaken pivotal roles in the institute's leadership and scientific research activities.


SunRice–ACIAR co-investment

In 2022, ACIAR and SunRice Group embarked on the largest publicprivate investment in ACIAR history. This 4-year project, co-invested by ACIAR and the SunRice Group, aims to establish a highly productive, sustainable, traceable, quality-assured value chain for tropical medium grain rice in the Mekong Delta, benefiting rice-farming households and meeting established SunRice market requirements. The project also enables SunRice to diversify its supply area for rice and source grain from the Mekong region.

The project will connect smallholder farmers in the Mekong Delta to high-value international markets, giving farmers an economic incentive to grow higher-value rice more sustainably.

The research is primarily focused on smallholder farmers, cooperatives and farmer groups, and private sector parties in An Giang, Dong Thap and Kien Giang Provinces and Can Tho City.

MOU signing with MARD

In 2017, ACIAR formalised its 10-year strategy (20172027) for collaboration in agricultural research with Vietnam by signing a Letter of Intent with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) of Vietnam.

The ACIARVietnam strategy strongly supports the Vietnamese smallholder agriculture sector to commercialise, creating effective linkages between agricultural scientists, farmers and the private sector.

The strategy aligns with the shared goals of Vietnam and Australia, serving as a backbone of ACIAR investment in Vietnam and providing guiding principles for the collaborating partners in designing projects.

Since 1993, ACIAR has invested A$157 million in 243 agricultural research projects in Vietnam. Over the last decade, ACIAR-Vietnam collaboration has witnessed growth in bilateral and multilateral projects with a shift from purely technical to more social-integrated research, strengthening value chains and enhancing smallholder farmers' livelihoods.

MOU signing with MOST

Aiming to expand the AustraliaVietnam collaboration in agricultural research, ACIAR signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of Vietnam in 2018 to implement the ACIARVietnam research collaboration strategy.

In a recent meeting (September 2023) between the Minister of Science and Technology of Vietnam – Dr Huynh Thanh Dat, and ACIAR CEO – Professor Wendy Umberger, the two sides discussed how to further agricultural research collaboration, promote innovation in agriculture and further capacity-building efforts for Vietnamese researchers.

ACIAR awarded Friendship Order

ACIAR received the Friendship Order from the Vietnam Government in 2019. The Friendship Order is Vietnam’s most prestigious award for foreign organisations and recognises ACIAR–Vietnam partnership that has supported Vietnam’s agricultural and rural development.

Nominated by the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS) for ACIAR’s significant contribution to Vietnam's agriculture sector, the Friendship Order was presented to then ACIAR CEO Prof Andrew Campbell by Vice Minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nguyen Hoang Hiep.