Vietnam has a long history of rice cultivation that dates back thousands of years. Rice plays a major role in the economy and culture of Vietnam. It is used as a staple food in everyday Vietnamese cuisine and is one of the most valuable export commodities of the agriculture sector in the country. In 2021, Vietnam was the second-largest rice exporter in the world, behind India.
Although rice terraces across the northern mountains are among the most iconic images associated with Vietnam, the largest rice-producing hub is located in the Mekong Delta in the southern part of the country. Thanks to the Mekong River, the surrounding areas are known for their rich soils and biological diversity, making them particularly suitable for cultivating rice and other agricultural products. In the farming season of 2020/2021, the Mekong delta alone produced around 24.8 million metric tons of rice, equaling more than half of the total production volume of the whole country.
Climate change and its impact on rice farming in Vietnam
With a long coastline, Vietnam has been experiencing the impact of rising sea levels, especially in the southern part of the country. Other climate change issues, such as rising temperatures, and increasingly extreme weather phenomena such as droughts, have further negatively affected several agricultural production activities in Vietnam. Unfortunately, the Mekong Delta is among the regions hardest hit by climate change. Due to drought and salinity intrusion, the rice production volume in this region has been decreasing marginally in recent farming seasons. Rice farmers in the Mekong Delta have adopted crop diversification and even seafood farming as they face increasing challenges in cultivating rice. For instance, the dual system of rice-shrimp farming has been introduced and encouraged by the government to address the increased saline water level and to create more economic value for farmers. Overall, finding sustainable solutions for climate change is the key to the future of the Mekong Delta’s agriculture.
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