New Challenges for Food Security in Vietnam

New Challenges for Food Security in Vietnam

Published: 2020.07.31
Accepted: 2020.07.31
Vice President
Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences (VAAS).
Center for Agrarian System Research & Development (CASRAD)


Food security is a great concern of the government in the current context. In the more than 30 years of renovation, Vietnam has achieved considerable successes in addressing the food security, poverty reduction, income, social stability, etc. The state policies have enormously contributed to these successes. However, Vietnam is still facing new challenges in food security and nutrition: high rate of undernourishment and stunting children under age of five in some places, climate change, epidemics, low competitiveness of agri-food value chains, etc. 

Keywords: Food security, malnutrition, poverty reduction, climate change, Vietnam


The food security conception strategy by FAO’s definition focuses on four indicators: food availability; food accessibility; food utilization including nutrition and food safety; and food stability. Recently, FAO has emphasized more on the nutrition with the conception of food security and nutrition (FAO, 2019). Over recent decades, Vietnam’s agricultural sector has made a significant progress, realizing major gains in productivity and outputs and contributing to national goals related to food security, poverty reduction, social stability, and trade. Vietnam’s gains in smallholder rice productivity and intensification are a source of envy for many developing countries. A characteristic of Vietnam's rice production is small-scale farmers with 85% of households cultivating rice in an area of less than 0.5 hectare. Rice production scale is extremely small, compared with the average size of small-scale farms at 2 hectares as defined by the FAO. Small-scale farming has allowed access to land for household-level food security in recent years. However, it would present a big obstacle to mechanization if Vietnam encouraged the intensification of rice production. Despite this obstacle, Vietnam has emerged as one of the world’s leading exporters of agro-food commodities, ranking in the top five for aquatic products, rice, coffee, tea, cashew, black pepper, rubber, and cassava.

As for food security, the Government has issued Resolution No. 63/NQ-CP on 23 December 2009 regulating the national food security. This Resolution aims to terminate food shortages and hunger by 2012, and increase food production by 2.5 times by 2020. This guarantees 3.8 million hectares for growing rice until 2020, of which 3.2 million hectares is for two seasons of irrigated rice per year. This area is strictly protected for rice production and it is mapped for each household. In 2020, the government is reviewing the impact of this policy to develop a strategy of food security until 2030. Although there is a positive result on Vietnam’s food security during the last decade, there are some new challenges for food security in the next decade to be discussed in this article.


1. In 2009, The Government of Vietnam has issued Resolution No. 63/NQ-CP on 23 December 2009 regulating the national food security. The resolution also aims to strengthen the capacity for scientific research and extension, with a 10 – 15% increased budget for this use. 

2. Restructuring of Agricultural sector policy 2020 includes restructuring the horticulture, livestock, forestry, fisheries and industry restructuring some staples such as rice. The main objectives are higher competitiveness of value chain, higher farmer income and sustainability. The common goals are to ensure that production grows by 20% to ensure food security at household and national levels, gradually shifting from food security to nutrition security; poverty is reduced by 20%; and greenhouse gas emission is reduced by 20%.

3. The phase 2 of New Rural Development Program (2016-2020) with 19 criteria was renovated. The period of 2016-2020 newly approved National Target Program on New Rural Development was designed to improve material and spiritual life of rural residents, develop socio-economic infrastructure and proper economic structure, and combine agricultural development and industrial-service development among other goals. The Government expects to increase the number of communes fulfilling norms of new rural development to 50% by 2020. Each province/city will have at least one district satisfy the criteria of the new rural district and income which is expected to rise by 1.8 times compared to the level of 2015, according to the program. Regarding financial resources for the program, the Government will integrate this program with the National Target Program on Sustainable Poverty Reduction and other programs or projects. At least 80% of revenues sourced from land use fees at communal level will be retained for deploying the program while businesses’ capital and voluntary financial contributions of rural residents are encouraged. The Government estimates that it needs about US$ 8.3 million (for the program, including US$ 2.7 billion from State budget and US$ 5.6 billion from local budget).

4. The National Target Program for Poverty Reduction in 2016-2020 period targets to improve income and living quality of the poor and ensure that the income per capita of poor households increases by 1.5 times by 2020 compared to 2015 and it will increase by 2 times in disadvantaged districts. Moreover, Vietnam will strive to reduce half of extremely poor districts; 30% of difficult coastal and islands out of poverty; 20-30 % of especially remote and mountainous villages and communes where the ethnic minority people live. The result of this policy has shown that, in 2019, Vietnam had more than 1.3 million of poor household with 56 USD/cap/month in urban and 43 USD/cap/month in rural area (MOLISA, 2019).

5. National Action Program for ‘Zero Hunger” in Vietnam by 2025 with Decision 712/QD-TTg on 12 June 2018 has been approved with following objectives: Ensure enough nutritious food all- year round; enhance Vietnamese people’s health; intelligence; and stature. This program aims to realize the second UN millennium development goal.

6. Action plan to respond to climate change for agriculture and rural development period 2016-2020, with a vision towards 2050 aims to sustain the food production under climate change context.

7. National Action Plan on Nutrition 2011-2020 with the vision to 2030 had general objectives: 1) by the year 2020, the diet of Vietnamese people will be improved in terms of quantity, balanced in quality, hygienic and safe; 2) Child malnutrition will be further reduced, especially prevalence of stunting, contributing to improved physical status and stature of Vietnamese people; and 3) obesity/overweight will be managed, contributing to the control of nutrition related chronic diseases.

8. National Strategy for Food Safety Assurance to 2011-2020 and Vision to 2030 has two general objectives: 1) the implementation of master plans on food safety from production to consumption by 2015; and 2) control of food safety over the entire food supply chain by 2020. Specific objectives of the strategy relate to: awareness raising and food safety practicing for target groups; capacity building for the food safety management system; significantly improvement of food safety assurance in manufacture, processing, and selling facilities; and active prevention of acute food poisoning.

9. The National Strategy for Natural Disaster Prevention, Response and Mitigation 2007-2025 approved by the Prime Minister in 2007 is a milestone in Vietnam's disaster prevention, response and mitigation and sustainable development on the basis of traditional experiences and achievements as well as the world's lessons in disaster control for increasingly sustainable development in the context of natural disasters. The National Strategy promulgates tasks, solutions and plans for implementation, based on which the 63 provinces/cities and 12 ministries/sectors developed their strategic action plans. The decentralization of disaster prevention, response and mitigation which mobilizes the whole resources in the society following the philosophy "the State and the people working together" in the prevention phase has shown increasing effectiveness. The Law on natural disaster prevention and control was passed in June 2013 and took effect on 1 May 2014.


Food security

Growth of staple food production has increased food availability and assured food security for the whole country. This is one of the main strategies for food security in Vietnam. This policy had reached significant achievement over the last decade. In the 2008-2018 period, the rice production increased from 38.7 million tons to 44 million tons, while the average food quantity per capita increased from 497 kg/year to 525 kg/year, making Vietnam among the top six countries in this index and becoming a more sustainable food security country than most developing countries in Asia. According to a report on food security of the countries in Asia and the Pacific of FAO, Vietnam’s proportion of undernourished population has decreased by 79% compared to the period 2014-2016 with 1990-1992, this reduction rate is the fastest in the region along with Thailand and Myanmar (FAO, 2016). Food security in Vietnam has been characterized with self-sufficient food availability and improved food access but unsatisfactory food utilization in the past years. Stability of food security is challenged by extreme climate events, such as floods and severe droughts. The calorie supply per capita, which is measured by the amount of food availability for consumption in Vietnam, has steadily increased from 2,269 kilocalories per person per day in year 2000 to 2,690 kilocalories per person per day in year 2009. Rice dominantly provides 55% of total dietary energy while consumption of animal protein, eggs, seafoods per capita have also increased in both urban and rural areas between 2002 and 2010, according to Vietnam Household Living Standard Survey (VHLSS).

Though food availability and consumption has improved substantially, the country still faces food utilization challenges which manifest itself in high rate of undernourishment. The intra-country differences among households in food access, dietary diversity and sanitary environment are hurdles to overcome together with other multi-sectional interventions to achieve the enhancement of all dimensions of food security.

Recently, climate change and disasters have negatively impacted some regions and caused the household food insecurity, even hunger such as in the North East Mountains, North and South Central Coastal, and Central Highland. Droughts and salt water intrusion in 2015-2016 have stressed food access at the household level due to reduced purchasing power, despite satisfactory food availability in markets. The vast majority (87%) of households reported undisturbed rice supply in nearby markets and 88% consumed rice at least once every two days.

Poor rural families most commonly consume rice (88%), vegetables (86%), oil (74%) and animal proteins (73%). One in four households does not have any protein intake from animal meat, pulses or meats, indicating a potential deficiency in energy intake.

Zero hunger challenge

The food insecurity will conduct to hunger under the context of climate change and disasters.  Vietnam is one of the best-performing nations on poverty reduction: Vietnam’s poverty rate fell from 14.2% in 2010 to 7% in 2015 and Vietnam’s poverty reduction has been acknowledged internationally. The hunger alleviation with chronic hunger has been eradicated in most provinces. During the ten years of 2000-2010, food availability per capita per year increased from 445 kilograms (per person per year) to 513 kilograms but seasonal hunger caused by lack of production resources, market fluctuations, natural disasters and diseases still exist in the remote and mountainous areas. According to the World Bank (2015) report for the last 15 years of implementing millennium development goal of Vietnam, “while the statistics on hunger have tended to decrease over the years for most of the provinces, the reverse trend was identified other provinces in the North West Mountain and the Central Highlands during 2012-2013. The number of those who are suffering from hunger increased in Ha Giang, Bac Can, Tuyen Quang, Ha Tinh, and Dak Lak provinces”. Some provinces have eradicated hunger but were not able to sustain it. In 2013, more than 67,000 people in Ninh Thuan fell into hunger because of serious drought even though no hunger was recorded in this province in recent years. Other factor which contributed to hunger in the mountainous areas was mono-culture with high risk such as corn, etc. conducing poor farmers to indebt and hunger situation.

Since late 2015, Vietnam experienced the strongest El Niño-induced drought and saltwater intrusion on record. During the peak of the drought (February-May 2016) 1.1 million people were food insecure, and more than 1.75 million people lost incomes due to damaged or lost livelihoods.

Despite the wide support provided by the government and NGOs in terms of food distribution, 73% of households limited their portions when eating and more than 58% borrowed food and money from friends or relatives as well as credit and cash loans. In June, 10% of drought affected families still cited extreme shortage of food and 40% moderate shortage of food. No family had stocks of food reflecting their lack of resilience to future term shocks.


Although there is rice surplus for export, local food shortages still exist during certain times of the year and in certain areas, and the food basket mostly lacks balance in the poor areas including micronutrients, green vegetables and protein sources, with persistent problems of malnutrition (WB, 2011). The seasonal or chronic hunger among households was mainly due to the unstable earnings, which made staple or complete food baskets unaffordable to them, although domestic supply at the national level was abundant. Another factor of malnutrition is the strong mono culture market-driven in some areas and less food diversification at the local level.

In Vietnam, reduction of malnutrition among children under five remains a public health priority. The most recent statistics show a slow and steady decline in malnutrition rates but it remains a burden in the country. According to the latest survey, the malnutrition rate still accounts for 24.6 % of under–fives are stunted, 14.1 % are underweight and 6.4 % are wasted (NIN, 2015). 

Childhood stunting remains one of the fundamental challenges for improved human development in Vietnam. Almost 2.1 million children under age five in Vietnam are considered too short for their age, or stunted. The 2015 National Nutrition Surveillance revealed significant disparities in the nutritional status of children in relation to the socio-economic conditions of the households they live in and among provinces and ethnic groups. The stunting prevalence is above 35.2% in Lao Cai province in the North Eastern Region and 27.3 % in Ninh Thuan province in the South Central Coastal Region, 39.7% in Kon Tum in central highland region compared to 7.1 % in Ho Chi Minh City in the South Eastern Region of Viet Nam. Over 50 % of children from Hmong ethnic minority group predominantly found in Lao Cai and 40 % of children from Rag Lei ethnic minority group found in Ninh Thuan are also stunted compared to 23 % in Kinh children.

In rural areas, unbalanced nutrition, lack of clean water supply, lack of nutrition education at school or home, disease and parasites risks are the factors affecting nutritional status rather than quantitative lack of food. In fact, the rate of malnutrition in rice-growing areas such as Mekong delta was higher than that in the diversified farming areas such as Red river delta (NIN, 2015).

Food safety

In the last decade, one of the new emerging issues in Vietnam’s food security is food safety. Regarding food safety, in 2013, there are 4,710 cases of food poisoning. Reasons for the growing food safety issues in Vietnam include: 1) decades of emphasizing production volume, which has encouraged widespread use of chemicals; 2) highly fragmented production, processing and marketing; 3) weaknesses in the government’s food safety control capabilities; 4) overlaps or gaps of certain food safety related mandates; 5) poor services to producers; and 6) limited awareness of all stakeholders of the impact of unsafe food on public health  and on cost to the economy resulting in limited resources being invested in improving food safety (DFATD, 2015). There is a urgent need to strengthen public and private sector capacities to ensure safe food. In response to food safety challenges, Vietnam has already revamped its food safety regulations, invested in laboratories, and streamlined institutional structures by reducing the number of ministries in charge of food safety from six to three. It is also redirecting capacity developed to ensure export food safety to focus on the domestic market. To bolster these changes, the government will need to address financial and human resources to support private sector involvement in improving their food safety management practices. Adopting a risk-based approach will help to provide a set of clear foci for public interventions (WB, 2016).

Poverty reduction

The success of Vietnam in reducing poverty can be attributed to a variety of factors, including governance capacity, infrastructure investments, and early health and education policies that enabled demographic transitions and structural transformations. In Vietnam, early commitments to providing basic health, education, and other public services played an important role in rapidly rising incomes and living standards. In all cases, government policy should explicitly target poverty in multiple dimensions (health and nutrition, education, other hard and soft infrastructure, job creation) and combat the exclusion of certain groups (OECD, 2016).

The lesson learned from rural poverty reduction program was a need to narrow inequality in poverty reduction. Despite the remarkable record of reducing poverty in absolute and nationwide terms, challenges remain. Poverty incidence varies significantly across regions. It is low in the southeast, Red River and Mekong deltas, and South central coast but high in the northern mountains, north central coast, and central highlands. While ethnic minority groups account for only 14.5% of the total population, they make up more than half of the poor. The proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day adjusted for purchasing power parity dropped from 63.7% in 1993 to 16.9% in 2008, and the proportion of those living on less than $2 per day fell from 85.7% to 43.4%. This suggests a significant number of near poor in the population, which is often excluded from social assistance and social protection schemes. The risks, shocks, and vulnerability are the causes of poverty. Climate change may push more people into poverty, while Vietnam had a strong impact from climate change.


Climate change adaptation in all agricultural sectors

Vietnam is most vulnerable to climate change, with settlements and economic activities such as rice and aquaculture production in the Mekong Delta at especially heightened risk. In this context, the second challenge for a sustainable agriculture will be climate change impact. Vietnamese agriculture has potential vulnerability to climate change risks such as shifting rainfall patterns and temperature, sea level rise. This suggests three orientations when it comes to planning adaptation strategies and shaping a public sector response to climate change. In the short run, the balance of rice for export in Vietnam is still vital despite losing the rice harvest from salinity. In the winter-spring crop 2015-2016, more than 339,000 hectares of rice in coastal Mekong Delta provinces are prone to saltwater intrusion and drought, accounting for 35.5 % of those localities’ rice areas and 21.9 % of the region’s total rice area. Of these, 104,000 hectares have been severely impacted. The FAO report said that the drought continued until September 2016, as a threat to 600,000 hectares of rice in Vietnam and forecast paddy farmers will lose over 70 % yield in the region was limited. According to the Department of Crop Production (MARD, 2016), nationwide will lose US$ 1.5 billion to deal with the consequences of drought and salinization. The complex effect of climate change with drought and sea level rising in Mekong in 2016 had impact of total export quantity of rice from Vietnam with a cut of 8-year low.

In this area, some parts could be changed to aquaculture, and the rest will continue with rice because farmers are lack of solution to shift to other crops and even for rice the technical solution for supporting farmer with salinity tolerant rice varieties is still needed. The phenomena of salinity intrusion in Mekong seem more and more serious. In the Spring 2020, the most serious year of salinity and drought, but Mard had advise farmer to shift the seedling 1 month earlier combining with salinity tolerance varieties use, so the rice harvest had only small damage (Mard, 2020).

The goals are to embrace the tenets of adaptive management, to cultivate resilience by strengthening capacity for innovation at every level of society and throughout the economy, and to privilege no-regrets strategies. Improved water resources management will be critical. With increasing competition around land-use, water, and budgetary resources, irrigation will need to be more efficient and accountable (WB, 2016). The stress tolerant seeds and livestock varieties options throughout the country need to be developed.  There is also a need to develop tools for supporting climate adaptation such as: vulnerability assessment and adaptation mapping, early warning system and preparedness for extreme climate phenomena. The challenges at strategy level for adaption are capacities to develop the National Adaptation Plan in Agriculture Sector.

Resilience of livelihoods to disaster

Through changing temperatures, severe droughts, increases in precipitation and rising sea level amongst other factors, global climate change is already modifying hazard levels and exacerbating disaster risks. Economic losses from disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, floods, and many others, are now reaching an average of US$ 250 to 350 billion each year worldwide.

Vietnam is considered as one of the most vulnerable countries in terms of impacts on climate change and associated phenomenon such as sea level rise, increased frequency of natural disasters like typhoons, floods and droughts.  In recent years, the most important shocks for production of small farms are natural disasters and emergencies in aquatic and zoonotic pests and diseases, dam failures, and industrial pollution. In 2015 alone, different natural hazards, mainly droughts and salt water intrusion, caused damages and losses in agriculture, aquaculture and fishery sector and sub-sectors of an estimate VND 8.1 trillion (equal to US$ 3.6 billion). In addition, natural hazards, especially floods have caused the deaths of 150 people and have left further 127 injured. The Vietnamese government has issued The National Strategy for Disaster Prevention and Control 2007-2025 in order to respond to these challenges.

Frequency of the natural hazards differs from one type to another and from region to region. Drought is the most frequently reported hazard, especially over the last two years, mainly due to the El Niño phenomenon. The impact of droughts is normally less severe in Vietnam; but during the 2016 crisis the long duration of the drought and saltwater intrusion have caused extensive damages and losses. Although floods were reported to be less recurrent, their occurrences caused the most severe impacts in the agriculture, livestock and aquaculture sectors and sub-sectors in the past years. Even when storms are happening regularly, their impact is much more localized compared to pest and disease outbreaks, which happen at least annually, affecting larger areas or high numbers of animals/crops.

The poor in rural and urban areas are disproportionately affected, they are also incapable of anticipating, absorbing, recovering and adapting to crises and disasters timely, efficient and sustainable manner is at the crux of FAO’s work in this area. Weakness in resilience triggers a downward spiral - household livelihoods and national development gains that have taken years to build are compromised or at times shattered.

The adoption of livelihood based coping strategies when faced with disasters reflects household strained economic capacity, which compromises food access and daily consumption. In households visited during the 2016 drought, 70% of household had to sell assets to cover basic needs. Animals, food stocks and other assets (land, jewelry and to a much lesser extent agricultural tools, inputs and household items) were reported to be the most common assets exchanged for cash. The high adoption of livelihood-based coping strategies, including selling food stocks and other assets further illustrates the stresses experienced by communities to meet diverse household needs and prepare for the coming crop season.

Climate change mitigation

The mitigation of climate change from agriculture in Vietnam is an important activity because the emission from this sector is an important share. Vietnamese government has committed the reduction of GHG to 20% up to 2020 from forests, annual crops, mostly irrigated rice and livestock.  There are currently works on two ways to reduce vulnerability to external shocks and adapt rice production systems to the effects of climate change, and also in light of reduced emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture mostly from rice fields. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) includes intermittent flooding, the transplanting of young (8-10 day old) single rice seedling, and applying intermittent irrigation and drainage to maintain soil aeration. The research in Vietnam has tested the model of rice farming techniques to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by technical package based on SRI. The result is that rice production effectiveness increased up to 20% due to lower costs and increased productivity (Salas W. at al). The study in Vietnam show that SRI could contribute to the reduction of 25-30 % GHG, in which reduction of CH4 is 14-21%; reduction of NO2 is 15-22% and reduction of CO2 is 22-27% (Dao The Anh, 2016).

Challenge of agri-food value chain competitiveness

Vietnam’s agricultural sector now faces growing domestic competition—from cities, industry, and services—for labor, land and water. Rising labor costs are beginning to inhibit the sector’s ability to compete internationally as a low-cost producer of bulk undifferentiated commodities. The consequences of over intensive inputs and natural resource use—both for the environment and for farmer profitability—are being increasingly recognized. Vietnam’s agriculture will need to generate ‘more from less’ (WB, 2016). That is, it will need to generate more economic value—and farmer and consumer welfare—using less natural, human, and other resources. And, it will need to increasingly compete on the bases of reliable supply, predictable quality, assured food safety and value addition.

The crucial challenge is the low agricultural production and value chain efficiency. A comparatively low quality of growth is manifested by low smallholder farmer profitability, considerable under-employment among agricultural workers, mixed or uncertain product quality and food safety, generally low value addition, and limited technological or institutional innovation. Growth rates in agricultural GDP and total factor productivity have been slowing. Several patterns of development within the sector have come at the expense of the environment in the forms of deforestation, biodiversity loss, land degradation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. In most locations, agricultural growth has involved either an increase in cropping areas or intensities and ever higher uses of inputs and natural resources. Hence, more output has come from more and more inputs and increasing environmental costs (WB, 2016).

On the other hand, change is needed not only in the growth model for agriculture, but also in the structural patterns of production and supply chain organization. These are currently highly fragmented production pattern with limited collective action at farmer level and weak vertical coordination in the supply chains. In the Mekong Delta, where the adoption of mechanization is higher than other regions, only 13 % of farm households have more than 2 hectares of rice production area (Agricultural Survey in 2011, GSO). The comparative studies on farm structures between 2001 and 2011 had not observed the significant changes in terms of rice farm sizes (WB, 2016). This has contributed to unnecessary transaction costs, unrealized economies of scale in certain functions, and poor incentives to produce and maintain higher quality produce and raw materials. Change is also needed in the model of state management in the sector— in the technical and regulatory services provided by the state, in public investments and expenditures in the sector, and in the policies applied to foster farmer and agribusiness investment (WB, 2016).

There is a need to strengthen collective action to build competitive and inclusive value chains. The emergence of more competitive and inclusive value chains will be made possible by stronger collective action. The government can support this in producer and industry organizations (and commodity boards) in two broad ways, by investing in organizational strengthening, and through legal and regulatory means. In a number of Vietnamese contexts such as in aquaculture, specialty rice, and horticulture/floriculture, agricultural cluster development may be an appropriate strategy and lends itself to incremental forms of public sector support (WB, 2016).

Emerging and re-emerging zoonotic Diseases: HPAI and ASF

The world is facing an increasing risk of infectious diseases, emerging or re-emerging (rEIDs), at the human, animal and environmental interface as a result of growing human population and demographic trends, intensification of livestock production in response to increasing demand for livestock products, globalization of the world economies, deforestation and climate change. These diseases, both zoonotic and non-zoonotic, can spread rapidly around the globe, and if not properly tackled, it can cause major emergencies that seriously affect animal and human health, and causes food insecurity and socio-economic instability, particularly for the world’s poorest and vulnerable people.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 has been present in Vietnam since late 2003. The disease has caused large economic losses of poultry and affected the likelihoods and health of communities all over Vietnam. Large economic losses have occurred with several million birds culled in an effort to control HPAI H5N1 virus. HPAI H5N1 have caused 127 human Influenza A/H5N1 cases from 2003-2015 of which 64 were fatal. Although the number of outbreaks in both animals and human has decreased significantly in recent years, HAPI H5N1 remains endemic in Vietnam. Since 2012, several new zoonotic influenza A viruses have emerged in the region. These include subtypes H5N6, H5N8 and H5N2, and H10N11 and H7N9. Most of these viruses appear to have first emerged in China through multiple genetic re-assortment process among the prevailing domestic and wild bird populations of influenza A viruses and then spilled over to domestic poultry populations followed by wider geographical distribution through poultry trade along the established intra- and inter-country value chains. For example, the novel H5N6 that first emerged in China in 2011, spread to Viet Nam in 2013. The virus has caused deaths in poultry and now appears to be well established in Viet Nam. The HPAI had negative impact on food security and making the rising price of poultry in domestic market.

In 2019, the African Swine Fever (ASF) has attacked the pig livestock in Vietnam for the first time. By the end 2019, this disease had occurred in 8,553 communes in 667 districts of 63 provinces and cities with the total number of pigs destroyed nearly 5.95 million with a total weight of over 340,000 tons, accounting for about 9% of the country's total number of pigs in Vietnam. In 2020, the post ASF period is difficult for small farmer for reproduction due to the lack of funding and piglets. This phenomenon had impact on the important raising price of pig in domestic market and having strong negative impact on national food security.


In the past decades, due to the process of urbanization and population growth, the food demand has increased, but Vietnam has achieved certain success in food security, the poverty rate has significantly decreased, the percentage of malnutrition children under the age of 5 reduced, food availability is improved, and ensuring a nutritious diet to meet food needs at both national and family levels. However, in order to achieve the national goals of food security as well as Zero Hunger goals of UN, Vietnam still faces some huge challenges to overcome in the coming years such as climate change, epidemics, food safety, nutrition, poverty, etc.


Over the last 10 years, we have solved quite well the problem of food production but the issue of nutrition is still weak. Therefore, in the new period, it is necessary to expand the conception from Food Security to "Ensuring food security and nutrition by 2030”.

1. The approach of food security and nutrition was recognized by National Action Program Zero Hunger until 2025 to promote interdisciplinary cooperation, especially Agriculture and Health sectors to address children malnutrition issues, in poor and difficult areas. The National Action Program to Zero Hunger by 2025 should be integrated into food security strategy.  The awareness of society and localities for nutrition security and food safety will be important message.

2. The policy should be based on the principle of the bottom up approach. The criterion of nutrition per capita should refer to the Zero Hunger Program’s: the percentage of people with calorie level lower than 1,800 kcal is less than 5% by 2025, so by 2030 it is possible to be less than 4%, which makes it easier to track malnutrition groups than the use of average nutrition level.

3. Some crops, due to the change of human consumption behaviors, should not be considered as basic staple food, such as maize, cassava.

4. To ensure food safety, it is necessary to promote agro-ecology (organic, safe, etc.) to reduce the use of chemical inputs. Modernization of the food supply chain, the application of standards will be faster and wider in the coming time. It is necessary to set the target of quality standards (GAPs, Organic ...) to reach 30% by 2030. It is also necessary to promote the safe food value chain to achieve this goal.

5. Currently the diversification of rice is still slow and the cultivated rice area is higher than the allowable level of Decree 63, while the income of farmers is still low. It is necessary to promote the change in crops land use from rice into cash crops that can more adapt to climate change, this will help to increase incomes of farmer.

6. It is necessary to develop a comprehensive food and nutrition surveillance information system with the sustainability criteria of food security and nutritional security, allowing quick decision-making on food security, especially in rice export management.

7. According to the Global Food Security Index (GFSI), Vietnam, although exporting a lot of rice, ranks only 63rd in the world because of low sustainability of its natural resources for food production (mostly water and land). Therefore, the sustainable use of land and water solutions needs to be emphasized to ensure the sustainability of food and nutrition security.

8. Also according to the Global Food Security Index (GFSI), the investment for science and technology, research and extension in agriculture still low, lower than 0.18% of GDP (ASTI, 2019). Therefore, the government should increase investments in research and technology transfer to improve production efficiency, productivity and product quality, especially in processing technologies and post-harvest storage to reduce post-harvest losses.


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