Diversification for Resilience in Vietnam

Vietnam is the world’s second largest rice exporter, but rice productivity and output are threatened by climate change.

Since 1985, the sea water level in the Mekong River Basin has risen by an average of three millimeters annually, spreading further inland and impacting a wider area each year.

With its flat terrain averaging less than one meter above sea level, Vietnam and its neighbors in the Mekong River Basin are vulnerable to sea rise which is increasing the salinity of the water they use for rice production.

Upstream dams on the Mekong River, are restricting the flow of fresh water, which exacerbates the salinity of the waters downstream and create drought in other sections of the delta.

Taken together, these shifts threaten the region’s food security and environmental sustainability.

The Vietnamese government is providing new options for farmers to improve their agricultural practices and grow diverse, higher-value crops.

In 2000, the Vietnamese government encouraged farmers to adopt a rice-shrimp rotation system.  Farmers raise shrimp during the dry season (February to June) and grow rice in the rainy season (August to December).

The wet season rainfall flushes some of the salinity from the soil during the period between harvesting the shrimp and planting the rice. New rice seed varieties enable farmers to increase yields in soils with higher salinity rates.

Catching shrimp in a rice-shrimp field in Vietnam. In Vietnam, 90 to 95 percent of the area under shrimp production and 65 percent of production volume originate with small-scale farmers. Photo credit: Kam Suan Pheng/World Fish

Public-private partnerships are also working to improve the quality of Vietnamese shrimp production.

Through training courses sponsored by USAID, farmers learn how to select high-quality post-larvae shrimp and to construct a shrimp nursery where young shrimp can be fed with approved nutritious starter feed.

This boost in the early stage of their life cycle helps shrimp grow more quickly to full weight and size, as well as become more resilient to sudden water stresses from salinity or temperature changes.1



  1. Vile, J. and S. Gustafson, “Adaptation of Rice-Shrimp Farming in the Mekong Delta: How Community Adaptation Solutions Can Inform Landscape Level Change,” Published by USAID, March 2016.

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