Towards more profitable and sustainable vegetable production systems in north-western Vietnam

close-up of a brown cow in a pasture with cows in the background
Project code
AUD 2,321,082
Project leader
Wendy Umberger - University of Adelaide
Commissioned organisation
The University of Adelaide
MAR 2014
DEC 2018
Project status
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This project aimed to enhance the profitability and sustainability of smallholder vegetable farmers in north-western Vietnam, through improved market engagement (domestic and export) and integrated resource and disease-management practices.

The project particularly focused on women and ethnic minorities engaged in horticultural value chains in Sa Pa and Bac Ha districts in Lao Cai Province.

Lao Cai Province was selected as the study location because of potential opportunities in emerging high value horticulture markets in the region. Additionally, the region has climate and soil conditions favourable for growing vegetables. Smallholders were increasingly integrating vegetables into their existing, largely subsistence or semi-subsistence farming systems.

Despite opportunities, significant development of a viable smallholder inclusive vegetable sector in the region faces several challenges, including: (1) rapidly transforming and highly competitive regional vegetable markets; (2) poor competitiveness with peri-urban and regional producers; (3) poor infrastructure and logistics; (4) nutrient depleted soils; (5) soil-borne diseases; and (6) trace element deficiencies.

To address these issues which affected both supply and demand for vegetables from the region, this project implemented a multi-disciplinary approach. All activities focused on capacity-building of partner institutions in Vietnam as well as Australia. The main project activities were divided into four components, and significant outputs and key findings for each component are highlighted in the final report: (1) Market analysis; (2) Market development; (3) Farming systems; and (4) Capacity building.   

Project outcomes

  • Identified market opportunities and consumer preferences for indigenous and conventional vegetables in local, provincial and urban markets.
  • Developed and promoted competitive and efficient marketing models that deliver high quality safe vegetables to market, meet consumer demands and benefit smallholders (particularly women and ethnic minorities).
  • Developed and demonstrated whole-farm management practices that improve sustainability, productivity and household livelihoods in (i) rice-vegetable and (ii) vegetable-only systems.
  • Developed sustainable models for up-scaling the Farmer Business School (particularly targeting women smallholders) and building capacity in research, development and extension.
Key partners
Centre for Agricultural Policy
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Fruit and Vegetable Research Institute
Hanoi Agricultural University
Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development
National Institute of Medicinal Materials
Plant Protection sub-Department Lao Cai
Soil and Fertilizer Research Institute
University of Queensland
Vietnam Women's Union