Friday, June 20, 2014

Vietnam: IRRI heads workshop on the future of the rice industry in the Mekong Delta

Written by Trina Leah Mendoza, Pieter Rutsaert, and Matty Demont

Key stakeholders of the Vietnamese rice sector gathered to discuss strategies towards a sustainable rice value chain in the Mekong Delta on 5-6 June in Ho Chi Minh City.

The workshop aimed to engage participants in a multistakeholder discussion about the future of the Vietnamese rice industry. IRRI organized the event with support from Closing rice yield gaps in Asia with reduced environmental footprint (CORIGAP), a project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the Agriculture Competitiveness Project funded by the World Bank.

Participants included representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, research institutes, and the private sector including exporters, farmer cooperatives, and the food industry. Indonesian and Thai partners from the CORIGAP project also attended the workshop as a learning experience to reproduce the exercise in their respective countries.

A SWOT analysis (strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats) combined with a strategic orientation round (SOR) was used to engage discussion among stakeholders. The theory and procedure was developed and instructed by Dr. Pieter Rutsaert, CORIGAP postdoctoral fellow, while Dr. Matty Demont, IRRI senior economist and market research and value chain specialist, framed the analysis around the concept of sustainable food value chain development. The framework covered the triple bottom line of economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Participants were guided through several collective tasks to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of the Vietnamese rice sector to become more sustainable, and the opportunities and threats that the sector faces. Participants then individually quantified the relationships between internal and external drivers of the sector. These results will enable CORIGAP scientists to develop an overall strategy for sustainable development of Vietnamese rice value chains. 

The stakeholders perceive the sector’s capability to grasp opportunities (including growing export and domestic markets) to be higher than its resilience to potential threats (including more stringent food safety regulations and global warming). This finding is important for policymakers who are currently repositioning Vietnam on the international rice market.

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