Vietnam’s Rice Farmers Fight Climate Change

Posted by on December 14th, 2017 | 0 Comments »

Vietnam is the world’s second largest rice exporter after Thailand. Ninety percent of the rice exported from Vietnam is grown in the Mekong River Delta.

But rice productivity in the delta is threatened by changes in climate and shifting weather patterns, with significant implications for the farmers who depend on rice for food and income.

The Mekong River flows through the vast Mekong River Basin (MRB), which includes parts of China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. More than 70 million people live in the MRB and rely on the Mekong River for drinking water, agriculture and transportation. Source: 2017 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®).

Averaging less than one meter above sea level, the Mekong River Delta is vulnerable to encroaching salt water from the surrounding sea. Since 1985, the sea water level has risen by an average of three millimeters annually, spreading further inland and impacting a wider area each year.

Rainfall levels are also increasing and timing of the rains is shifting. Farmers must now adjust their growing practices to account for the decreased rainfall at the start of the rainy season and higher rainfall amounts at the end of the rainy season.

Upstream damns in the Mekong River Basin, coupled with changing ocean temperatures in the Pacific, contribute to higher salinity and drought in other sections of the delta.

Taken together, these shifts threaten the region’s food security and environmental sustainability. Farmers and food producers must adopt new practices and innovative technologies to adapt and survive.


Seed Research Partnership Breeds Hope For Rice Farmers

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and DuPont Pioneer conducted research in partnership to develop a commercial Pioneer® brand rice hybrid seed (PHB71) that prospers in soil with higher salinity.

As part of the Rice Model Farm Program, farmers in Vietnam grow hybrid seeds side by side with their local varieties to test and learn together about their advantages. They also are trained in postharvest storage strategies to prevent losses.

Bringing together rice seed traits developed by IRRI and Pioneer has resulted in a hybrid rice seed variety with improved roots, rigorous growth rates and yields that are 30 to 40 percent higher than seeds that self-pollinate in open fields. These enhanced seeds are also proven to be more resistant to diseases such as bacterial leaf blight and leaf blast.

Agronomic training helps farmers effectively incorporate these improved hybrids into their regular farming practices and to receive the most value from them. The Thanh Hoa Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has partnered with DuPont Pioneer to establish a Rice Model Farm Program where farmers learn about seed selection, management of soil health, pests, water and nutrients and sustainable farming practices to improve productivity.

For more on rice production and agriculture in Vietnam, check out “Diversifying for Resilience in Vietnam” from the 2017 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®).


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