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Assessing competitiveness of smallholder pig farming in the changing landscape of North West Vietnam

This Small Research Activity will investigate whether a large pig / maize farming project can be developed in northwest Vietnam, adding another dimension to ACIAR's investment into maize-based farming systems in the region.
Maize has become a dominant crop in the mountainous areas of northwest Vietnam, fuelled by demand for maize grains for animal feeds and maize for home consumption. Large commercial feed mills such as CP purchase maize. Many farmers grow maize for sale but depend on a few buyers, which makes it hard for maize farmers to bargain. Moreover, the more remote the location, the lower the prices offered.
Farmers can feed maize to pigs instead of selling the grain to traders. This will increase the returns to farmers, particularly those located in remote areas. Pig raising is a traditional farming activity but using maize may require a change in the way pigs are produced. Smallholder (traditional) pig systems are competitive, fuelled by the growing demand for local pork and pork products, and have a dominant market share in fresh pork market. It is unclear whether market incentives and farmers' interests and capacity are sufficiently strong in northwest Vietnam to allow viable pig enterprises compared to maize or other livestock enterprises. The other question is how maize can be sustainably integrated in these systems.
This research will improve local livelihoods and make remote rural ethnic minority communities more resilient. Since women tend to produce pigs, there is an opportunity to target women. The project could produce international public goods through developing livestock-based solutions to restoring ecosystems services.