MLS 2.2: Vietnam - urban agriculture

Participants of 1st SMAP-Workshop
Participants of 1st SMAP Vietnam Workshop in Hiep Hoa, 2013

Abstract/Description (5/2013):
Overuse and underuse of fertilizers in Vietnam (Version 1*, April 26, 2013)

More than 80% of Vietnam’s population is engaged in agriculture, while more than 90% of these farmers are smallholders. There is a wide range of agro technological practices and regional differences. Agriculture is an important sector of Vietnam’s economy, contributing to about 21% of the GDP. In many places, land use dynamics result in land degradation, which calls for efficient fertilizer application. On the other hand, a particular problem, which exists not only in Vietnam, but in many Asian countries, is the overuseof fertilizers (including P) in peri-urban and urban vegetable production. In these cases, urban farmers’ attempts to respond to increasing population and agricultural intensification often result in a contamination of the groundwater.

The MLS will focus on a case study of the Hiep Hoa district in Bac Giang, located in the Northern part of Vietnam in the Red River Delta (RRD). RRD is one of the most intensively cropped areas in the world and accounts for 20% of Vietnam’s rice production. Simultaneously it has a high population density of 1,476 inhabitants per km2. The transdisciplinary case study especially focuses on the interactions of farmers and agro input providers (traders), as well as on the inclusion of local financial services,  which may help to improve access to P. The transdiciplinary setting should enable to consider various variables within the agricultural production process, as well as to create awareness for the environmental consequences of overuse. It needs to be identified which are the most suitable fertilizers for the specific areas and how strategies can be implemented to foster the correct use of the fertilizers.

During the MLS the following key question should be discussed: What are the underlying reasons for the overuse of fertilizer and how can its supply be improved according the farmers needs and simultaneously be beneficial for the traders?

* This is the first version of the description of what will be dealt with in the MLS 2.2 Vietnam - Urban agriculture and provides only a rough description of what will be discussed. A group of practitioners and scientists are currently revising this abstract and composing a booklet which will prepare all participants for the MLS on June 18. Please contact Rina Marie Maas-Deipenbrock <>, member of the TD Support team or Anh Pallas, Science manager of Global TraPs if you want to join <>.

Executive Summary of DS MLS 2.1 Kenya Serials & MLS 2.5 Vietnam – Urban Agriculture of the 1st Global TraPs World Conference, Beijing 2013 (written 8/2013; released 3/2014)

Preliminary note: No abstract is available for this Dialog Session. The following text comprises the orientations discussed and identified in the joint Mutual Learning 2.1 and 2.2. Philio Luthardt and Rino Mass-Deipenbrock (both MSc. Students at Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany) facilitated this Dialogue Session of the 1st Global TraPs World Conference, July 18-20, 2013 and are responsible authors of this summary. Twelve people, seven scientists and five practitioners collaborated in this joint session. For further questions, please contact Prof. Ulli Vilsmaier, Leuphana University, Lüneburg ( or Prof. Roland W. Scholz, Fraunhofer  IGB.

Excecutive Summary of MLS 2.1 Kenya & 2.2 Vietnam

During the first Global TraPs World Conference at the 18th June 2013 in Beijing the MLS 2.1 Vietnam and MLS 2.2 Kenya were discussed together, as there are many relations between the two cases, which offer many mutual learning possibilities.

The main problem of both case-studies are the lack of knowledge of the farmers on the one hand and the agro-dealers, who are driven by business. The farmers do not know what type and what amount of fertilizer should they use at what time. In Kenya, when the agro-dealers do not have the correct fertilizer, they sell another one.
The differences between both cases are the financial situations. In Kenya the farmers often do not have sufficient money at the right time to buy the correct fertilizer. Also the agro-dealers do not have sufficient money to stock on several types of fertilizer. In order to receive a loan to buy fertilizer farmers need to have collateral, which is often not the case. Cooperatives could be helpful for this matter. However, most farmers are often skeptical towards this concept.

In Vietnam is financing less of an issue as most of the farmers have arrangements to pay for the fertilizers after the harvest. Generally, p fertilizer is cheap in Vietnam, which also contributes to the overuse. The misconception is often the more fertilizer applied, the better the harvest. Therefore, it is essential in this case to provide soil testing and provide information about adequate fertilizing techniques. Farmers involved in this study divide their land into two parts, where one is fertilized as before and one following the recommendations after soil testing. This provides a control group as well as a direct comparison for the farmer.

As it is the main issue of both cases the participants worked mainly on the question why the yields are declining in Vietnam, with an overuse of fertilizers, and in Kenya, with an underuse of fertilizersquestions how increased fertilization may increase yield under what constraints. The result is, that a clarification system approach, which looks at different components and actors and how they interplay, should be used. In order to not only focus on the issue of fertilizer and ignore related components.

Policy orientations:

  • dentifying the sources of declining yields
  • Any subsidies should be a kick-starter and not squeeze out other market players
  • Transdisciplinary capacity building for the whole value chain: Who could do this sustainably?
  • Improving the efficiency of the supply chain