Urban Agriculture Development in Hanoi City: Current Cases and Perspectives

Urban Agriculture Development in Hanoi City: Current Cases and Perspectives

Published: 2022.11.07
Accepted: 2022.11.07
Vice President
Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences (VAAS).
Vietnam Journal of Agriculture Science (PHANO)


Urban agriculture not only ensures the requirements of labor and income settlement for a large number of urban and peri-urban populations to produce agricultural products that meet both quantity and improved quality in the direction of food safety and hygiene, but it also plays a more important role in creating landscapes and in the protection of the ecological environment. Agricultural development towards urban agriculture has been a trend of many cities in the world as well as in the region on the basis of rational use of land resources. Through the picture of investors in the world today, investors are increasingly asserting their position in urban space. Urban agricultural space can renew urban space, which has proven that the development trends of investors are inevitable on a global scale, including urban areas in Vietnam. The issue of the organization of urban space in cities must be studied one step ahead, which is urgent today. The current state of urban agriculture in cities in Vietnam from the perspective of urban development planning, shows the need to organize investors to aim for green, smart and sustainable urban development planning in the current context of urbanization and climate change. Some case models of urban agriculture appropriated for Hanoi City were proposed for experimentation at scale.

Key words: urban agriculture, development


Modern urban agriculture includes peri-urban agriculture and urban agriculture. However, in the past, the concept of urban agriculture originated as a model of taking advantage of small areas, vacant lots, gardens, lawns, balconies, terraces, and birthplaces, community activities in urban areas to plant trees or raise poultry and small livestock to meet the practical needs of urban dwellers. Many studies refer to this concept of urban agriculture.

Gradually with the support of science and technology and the increasing demands of life, this model has been interested in investing to become an ecological and economic sector. The urban agriculture is focusing in high value production inside urban and peri-urban areas, including intensive production, processing and service activities on agricultural crops and livestock suitable to the specific conditions of urban areas. The farming methods are diverse such as organic, high-tech, traditional technical solutions combined with modern one, capable of using and reusing natural resources and urban waste.

There are crops such as vegetables, flowers, tubers, fruits, trees, lawns, ornamental plants, medicinal plants, agricultural plants and other useful organisms, first of all to meet the demand for safe and fresh food and serving activities that are convenient for residents' lives. Then, the solution to create a microclimate ecosystem from beautifying the landscape, architecture, and environment to creating a fresh living space, a space for relaxation and health care; solutions to reduce noise, air pollution, greenhouse effect, concreting and other negative impacts of urbanization process, contribute to improving the material and spiritual life of the people.

According to the definition of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), urban agriculture is the production of food and other agricultural products, based on land and water resources in urban areas and the periphery, applying specialized production methods, using or reusing natural materials and urban waste.

Urban agricultural space is an urban space containing all activities related to urban agriculture. Urban agricultural space includes traditional urban landscape and urban production landscape. Urban agriculture plays an important role in the urban development of countries as it provides food and local food for cities.

Urban agriculture has easy access to urban services and utilities, contributing to job creation and income growth for a part of the urban population, and at the same time contributing to the sustainable management of natural resources, reducing environmental pollution and creating urban landscapes, and improving people's health.

These characteristics of on-site production and distribution, food from urban agriculture might reduce the costs of transportation, packaging and storage, and the loss rate due to storage - transportation is also reduced; the products are fresh, rich in nutrition and competitively priced by reducing intermediate costs; thus their production costs are lower and CO2 emissions are also significantly reduced.

Along with that, urban agriculture is also a solution to balance the material life and enjoy the spiritual values ​​of urban residents. The continuous rotation of busy life and work pressure in urban areas make people inevitably stressed. The mind is disturbed from the honking of the car horns, the emotions are trapped in the concrete jungle, and the air is polluted by smog. Day by day, those uncertainties build up and lead to a lack of alkalinity, inhibitions, impatience, anger, and psychological trauma that have obvious consequences for the community.

Therefore, green spaces from urban agriculture are temporary pauses that provide an opportunity for people to balance their emotions to ease those wounds. It is when being immersed in the green space of urban agriculture right in the living space like a pot of ornamental flowers in front of the window, a beautiful green vegetable garden on the terrace also helps people find their way back to real peace because they can breathe the fresh air and feel the stillness from within.

Vietnam is a developing country, so the process of urbanization is taking place strongly in large urban areas and peri-urban rural areas. In fact, cities directly under the Central Government such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, etc. Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Can Tho, grade I cities in the period 2010-2020 tend to expand the space from the urban core center to the periphery. The rate of urbanization in Vietnam increases very rapidly from 19.6% with 629 cities in 2009 to about 39.3% with 833 cities in 2020. The urban population density of Vietnam is very high, especially in big cities like Hanoi with 2,398 people/km2 and Ho Chi Minh City with 4,292 people/km2 (Do Hau, 2020). The green surface covered by trees per capita rate in urban areas in Vietnam is between 2 and 3 m2/person, a very low level compared to the United Nations' minimum requirement of 10 m2/person. While most urban areas in the world have reached 20-25 m2/person, many modern cities in the region and the world have 30-50 m2/person such as: Singapore 30.3 m2/person, Seoul (Korea) 41 m2/person, Berlin (Germany) 50 m2/person, Moscow (Russia) 44 m2/person, Paris (France) 25 m2/person (Truong Quoc Su, 2019).

Along with that, the problem of air and noise pollution and urban waste has been and is an urgent problem in the urban areas of Vietnam. In large urban areas such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or cities with strong industrial activities such as Viet Tri (Phu Tho), dust pollution is still at a high threshold, especially in areas near traffic axes and main channels. In these urban areas, the number of days with AQI air quality index at poor, bad (AQI=101-200), and very bad (AQI=201-300) accounts for a large proportion. Typically, in Hanoi, the number of days in 2014 with poor AQI accounts for more than 50% of the total number of days observed in the year, even though there are days when the air quality declines to a very bad and dangerous threshold (AQI above 300).

Air pollution causes diseases, both immediate and long-term, which seriously affect people's quality of life. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2006, there were 777,000 premature deaths worldwide due to exposure to air dust pollution, of which 531,000 people died in Asia, accounting for 68%. According to the research results of the National Science Program No. 23 by the Department of Health, Ministry of Transport in the two years 2011-2012, the rate of people suffering from respiratory diseases in Hanoi is higher than in Ho Chi Minh City by 1.3-1.5 times.

The strong urbanization process in Hanoi is raising the issue that it is necessary to have an urban agriculture development strategy in the overall sustainable development strategy to not only meet the needs of the people for fresh, safe food and the utility needs of residents, but also meet the urgent requirements of the task of improving a healthy living environment, creating an urban spatial architectural landscape through smart, worthy living for the present and the future.


Over the past 20 years, Hanoi in particular and Vietnam in general have experienced unprecedented rapid urban development. As the speed of urbanization takes place rapidly, it brings a series of new challenges: the area of ​​agricultural land decreases on a large scale; a part of the labor force in agriculture loses productive land and becomes jobless; a part of laborers move from rural areas to urban areas; and there is increasing pressure on resources such as land, food and water.

These changes are especially serious for farmers in Hanoi, when agricultural communes are under the management of the municipality, rice land has been allocated to investors, farmers have lost much or all of their land, often that is the only source of their income. The pieces of agricultural land are fragmented and not seamless, making it more difficult than ever to expand farming and invest in production, farmers’ cooperatives may be dissolved or cease to operate. This leads to the fact that agricultural land in the capital area is abandoned. With limitations in age, education, and required skills, these farmers have little chance of finding work in industrial zones. This makes these farmers vulnerable to poverty and joblessness, especially middle-aged women, who are often tasked with taking care of children or elderly parents. Therefore, agriculture in the capital still plays a very important role in ensuring livelihoods and jobs for rural residents.

Hanoi’s rapid population growth has raised concerns about food supply and how to achieve food security in a sustainable way without harming environmental resources. The demand for locally available “safe food” is increasing, but small-scale, fragmented producers often do not have the means or technical training to meet food requirements and safety or meet the needs of the market.

In terms of environment, rapid population growth also leads to problems such as water pollution, heavy air pollution, and serious environmental problems.

Urban agriculture development needs to pay attention to the multifunctional role when choosing solutions for urban sustainable development. Urban agriculture not only plays an important role in the sustainable livelihood strategy of urban residents, creating a source of GDP for the city based on added value from agricultural land, but is also considered as the optimal direction that has high feasibility to solve inadequacies related to the process of urbanization such as food security and environmental problems, and move towards building sustainable ecological and landscape cities for the future.    

Specifically, in terms of socio-economics, the development of urban agriculture including peri-urban agriculture and urban agriculture will create concentrated specialized production areas and/or modern agricultural production areas.  Step by step applying high technology and organic agriculture suitable to urban characteristics in these areas, it can produce quality products and goods to meet urban and market demands, contributing to improving productivity, output and the added value of the agricultural sector. It can then rationally restructure the agricultural sector, exploit and effectively use agricultural land and labor force, create jobs and raise incomes for agricultural workers, contribute to helping farmers become rich legitimately and sustainably reduce poverty.

In terms of environment, the development of urban agriculture will gradually change the perception of farmers from traditional agricultural production to commodity agriculture, applying scientific and technological advances and new farming methods in the direction of ecology, sustainability, biosecurity, minimizing the impact of environmental pollution, improving the environment and urban landscape. Urban agriculture will contribute to Hanoi’s green, smart and sustainable urban strategy.

At the same time, developing urban agriculture will produce quality products, ensure food hygiene and safety for the benefit of consumers, contribute to improving the health of the community, and ensure food security and nutrition.

Hanoi expanded after 2008 with an area of ​​over 334,470 hectares (three times higher than 2000) and has become a large locality with a population of more than 8.4 million people. From the requirements of socio-economic development, the city’s monthly consumption of agricultural products and food has reached over 300,000 tons with about 103,000 tons of vegetables and fruits, 93,000 tons of rice, 25,000 tons of meat, 5,000- 1,000 tons of seafood, and 5,000 tons of meat processed from cattle and poultry. With this demand, the new capital’s agricultural production can meet 30% of rice, 55% of vegetables and fruits and 3% for aquatic products and seafood.  Most of the shortage must be met with the agricultural productions of other localities in the country. From here, the task posed to the city’s agriculture is still very heavy. Along with the development of agriculture to meet the demand for food, the big problem posed in the process of developing the capital is urban agriculture.

Although nearly 10 years ago in Decision No. 17/2012/QD-UBND dated July 9, 2012 of the City People’s Committee on the approval of “Hanoi City Agricultural Development Plan to 2020, Orientation to 2030,” Hanoi has identified agricultural development towards ecological urban agriculture as the basic orientation of this important economic sector. However, up to now, according to many experts, the capital’s agricultural sector has not clearly defined the direction of development. It is still not clear whether the type of agriculture that Hanoi is building and developing is ecological urban agriculture or traditional agriculture; types of high-tech agriculture or organic farming model? Concepts like large-scale agricultural models or household economic models.

Urban agriculture in the capital needs to be identified as both a driving force and an appropriate tool to mobilize social resources in a synchronous manner to solve problems. Hanoi is urgently reviewing, adjusting, supplementing and completing the planning on agricultural development and rural construction; and building a stable agricultural product consumption market with a system of commercial establishments throughout the regions. It encourages organizations and individuals to directly cooperate with farmers and cooperatives to produce high-quality agricultural products to gradually replace imported products and serve export. It also promotes consolidation and exchange of plots; raises the production level for farmers; restructures the agricultural sector in the direction of increasing added value associated with the goal of fast, strong and sustainable development.

The strategy for sustainable agricultural and rural development to 2030 and a vision to 2045 has clearly defined the orientation of ecological agriculture. For Hanoi, the revised Capital Law also clearly defines the vision of an ecological and sustainable urban area.


The strong urbanization process in the peri-urban areas of Hanoi is posing an urgent problem to build agricultural production models. The successful application and development of urban agriculture model not only meets the people’s needs for fresh and safe food, but also meets the needs of farmers, urban landscape requirements, and increases green space.

With their own characteristics, urban agriculture models in Hanoi meet the urgent requirements in the life of urban residents such as: Contribute to the supply of fresh food on the spot for the city market; Create jobs and income for a part of the population who live by agricultural production, who have lost their land due to urbanization such as in Long Bien, Cau Giay, Hoang Mai, Tay Ho; Get easy access to urban services, open up new opportunities for in-depth development in the direction of high-tech agriculture; Contribute to creating landscapes, reduce environmental pollution and improve public health.

With the expansion of the city area in 2008, Hanoi has been prioritizing agricultural development in both inner and outer cities. For the inner city, agriculture has existed in urban areas and peri-urban areas since ancient times. Hanoi alone has Lang basil, Tay Tuu vegetables, Ngoc Ha flowers, Nhat Tan peaches, Dam Set perch, Ho fish and shrimp. In the West, there is water spinach in ponds, lakes, and canals.

There is a very strong trend going on that many families in Hanoi also start growing vegetables to serve family meals. In order to have clean vegetables, many households have grown vegetables in ornamental pots, styrofoam boxes, even renovating the rooftop into a vegetable garden, making use of every corner of the alley and watch on balconies and terraces for vegetable pots. Most of the vegetables grown are easy to take care of such as water spinach, sweet potato, chrysanthemum, and raw vegetables such as lettuce, centella, perilla.

In order to achieve the goal of eco-city, it is necessary to have incentive policies such as environmental standards, communication, and promotion of private consulting services in Hanoi. The main models can be listed as follows:

The model of growing safe and clean vegetables in districts on scattered land or in traditional craft villages of Hanoi and newly planned areas applying modern technologies to grow crops, vegetables, spices, fruit trees to serve the needs of daily life. Many models have been well promoted with traditional and modern values ​​such as the model of traditional ornamental flowers (Peach, Quat) associated with well-invested ornamental flower markets or ecotourism areas in Ho Chi Minh City, Nghi Tam, Nhat Tan, Quang Ba (Tay Ho district); and the model of growing fruit trees (Cam Canh, Pomelo) associated with planting new fruit trees for visiting and experiencing tourism (Grape, Strawberry) in Bac Tu Liem district;

Agricultural models on rooftops are agricultural models such as family vegetable gardens on the roof applying organic agriculture or high-tech agriculture with self-sufficient nature for the family. These models can also be used to train students in schools. Many innovative models such as the safe vegetable tower with environmentally friendly recycled materials in families both process organic waste in daily life, create green space and provide a portion of vegetables, flowers and fruits for the family life. The model of aquatic vegetables on balconies in apartments also attracts the attention of many families;

Vertical Agriculture model is an indoor farming model using high technology and precision, without the use of soil, controlling light, temperature, humidity and nutrients. This is a model that needs to be invested and replicated because of its effectiveness and is becoming an indispensable trend in smart cities. This model has become popular in modern cities in the region and around the world. Hanoi can learn to access and attract social resources for investment and development in scattered land areas in inner city districts;

Models of ornamental creatures including flowers, ornamental plants, and ornamental pets are diverse in the garden or on the roof, providing office and family greenery. Ornamental models can be integrated in urban green architecture such as parks, lakes, urban greenery, flower gardens, lawns and decorative gardens at historical sites, offices, schools, new urban areas. Vietnam in general, Hanoi in particular, has a long tradition of playing landscapes, so the creation of green, clean and beautiful ecological space becomes an urgent need when people’s lives are improved. In fact, there have been many models of ornamental flower gardens hanging in urban housing architecture that have taken advantage of most of the space such as stairs, terraces, balconies, skylights, etc.; and

Urban agriculture model associated with the creation of ecological spaces, tourism development, relaxation, experience, study visit is increasingly interested in investment and upgrading. Living space is increasingly shrinking, which requires many urban agricultural models associated with resort services, tourism, visiting experiences, and public facilities such as high-rise office buildings, level, green hospitals, green offices, green restaurants, film studios, flower gardens, parks, etc.


The urbanization process of Hanoi capital, like most urban areas in Vietnam, is taking place in the direction of major expansion, not paying attention to the synchronous development of economic, social, cultural factors, urban management level with the role of driving force for urbanization and sustainable development. Therefore, the orientation of sustainable urban agriculture development in the overall urban economic sectors needs to pay attention to a number of issues posed as follows:

First, the role of urban agriculture must be determined and clearly associated with the sustainable development strategy of cities in the process of urbanization. Urban agriculture contributes to overcoming the negative aspects of the urbanization process such as: migration from rural to urban areas; illiteracy, unemployment and disparity between rich and poor; housing issues and management of social order and safety in urban areas; the problem of overloaded infrastructure system and environmental pollution; food safety issues; urban landscape issues; preservation of traditional cultural values ​​in modern urban spaces. Urban agriculture needs to be institutionalized into priority policies. The farmer in peri-urban area can stay at home practicing agriculture and don’t need to live in urban area, so it can reduce the population density in urban area. The poor worker in urban area can have additional income and food source from urban agriculture. Therefore, it is crucial to encourage the attraction of investments in social resources as an internal driving force that determines the fast, strong and sustainable development of Hanoi.

Second, urban agriculture must be shaped as a high-value ecological economic sector that not only meets the local demand for safe food, but also connects economic, cultural and social values to society, the environment and contribute to improving the people's material and spiritual life.

Urban government should innovate the growth model by continuing to implement agricultural restructuring towards increasing added value, sustainable development associated with new rural construction. The restructuring of agriculture needs to focus strongly on restructuring public investment and public services in agriculture, creating a favorable environment for the effective and sustainable formation of agricultural value chains based on comparative advantage of each region and locality; continue to focus on investment in infrastructure; research and application of science and technology, especially technology for agricultural production and processing, focusing on developing products with comparative advantages, competitiveness and consumption markets; diversifying both domestic and export markets; and investment in human resource development in agriculture.

Urban agriculture not only solves the problem of bringing new and high technology into production, increasing output and quality of crop and livestock products in the context of increasingly limited agricultural land, but it is also possible to develop specialized agricultural models to provide urban services such as trees, safe food for hotels, tourism and resort services, etc. To perform environmental functions including air conditioning, urban agriculture must focus on developing organic - circular agriculture that can reuse urban waste to make fertilizers, and recycle water for crops and livestock; and creates a landscape system such as a system of trees, parks, green belts around the city, ponds and lakes, etc.

Third, urban agriculture must aim to build a smart agriculture that integrates advanced technology for outstanding crop and livestock productivity, stable product quality, safety for human health, and environmental friendliness. Smart farming is an inevitable development trend of the time to solve the inadequacies of traditional agricultural models.

There is a need to guide agribusiness production establishments to well apply the set of standards on good agricultural practices and strengthen management at the stages of processing and circulation to ensure food safety.

However, Hanoi so far has not had a complete and smart agriculture model according to the concept of Agriculture 4.0. Currently, this model has only been applied in some specific fields and scopes due to the lack of synchronization of the technical infrastructure (Le Quy Kha, 2017). Therefore, in the process of planning and implementing policies for urban agricultural development, it is necessary to clearly define objectives suitable for each specific period.

Fourth, urban agriculture in Hanoi city must have the cross-cutting goal of creating a balanced and sustainable development, connecting urban and rural spaces, traditional and modern values, at the same time promoting the harmonious lifestyle of people with nature.

The development of science and technology, on the one hand, creates countless conveniences for human life, on the other hand, it also poses consequences that threaten the very existence of humans and life on the green planet. That is the depletion of natural resources, destruction of the healthy living environment; forming extreme natural phenomena; strange epidemics arise; and modern diseases are destroying the quality of human life every day. That requires people to adjust their behavior, form a lifestyle in harmony with nature to gradually create a balanced and sustainable development. Urban agriculture is the process of helping people move towards that noble goal.

Fifth, urban agriculture is a process of changing from awareness to action about the mode, conditions and spatial scope of organizing traditional agricultural production to modern agriculture. It reflects the level of development of the society. Therefore, in addition to focusing on building technical infrastructure, industry development planning and urban space organization, when developing policies to encourage development investment attraction, it is necessary to focus on promoting human resource training, science and technology transfer, and propaganda to raise awareness and change habits and bad customs and have new perceptions about modern cities, sustainable development associated with high-tech agriculture, smart cities, new countryside and the goals of environmental protection and adaptation to climate change.

Improve capacity to manage and respond to weather-related risks and to mitigate the effects of climate change and market risks. Improve the forecasting and early warning system and integrate it with the agricultural consulting service; changing farming methods and selecting varieties suitable to regions with different climate changes; building research and development capacity to address emerging challenges of climate change and sea level rise; promote the agricultural insurance market, strengthen farmers' ability to respond to risks, and ensure that agriculture is less affected by climate change.

Sixth, urban agriculture must be organized to move towards a green - smart and sustainable urban development plan in the context of increasingly obvious urbanization and climate change. It is necessary to study from the master plan to the detailed planning of areas with urban agricultural activities towards the development of green - smart cities along with the issuance of mechanisms and policies to create conditions for the development of urban agriculture in the future.

The planning and development plans in Hanoi in recent years such as the master plan for socio-economic development of districts, the planning of new rural construction in the periphery districts by 2020 are the basic contents and criteria of Hanoi's agricultural development towards urban agriculture, high value, green economy and sustainable development.

Seventh, In order to develop urban agriculture towards sustainable development, contributing to reducing environmental pollution in the process of urbanization, Hanoi needs to implement many solutions, including: stabilize urban agricultural production areas, continuously study and plan in detail the main seed, plants and animals production areas; publicize the scientific research planning on agricultural production development to all levels of government and people; and deploy and apply high technology in the fields of urban agriculture development.

Implement measures such as increasing public investment in natural disaster prevention and control works, reducing adverse environmental impacts, strengthening agricultural wastewater management, and increasing the application of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; thoroughly grasp the green economy thinking in agricultural development. Green economic thinking requires the implementation of green growth strategies in agriculture.

In addition, Hanoi effectively implements programs and policies through the support and preferential loans of the Central Government. The city focuses on investing in agricultural and rural technical infrastructure; adopting a policy to develop urban logistics services in the context of smart city construction; and strengthening regional and national economic linkage cooperation.


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