This paper aims to provide empirical evidence on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on agriculture and rural development in Viet Nam, with a focus on smallholder farmers and vulnerable rural people. Using contextual analysis, the paper, which based on a quick survey of 12 provinces in the country, provides a panorama of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on agriculture and rural development. Findings of the quick survey on the pandemic impacts on rural households’ livelihoods, including agricultural and non-agricultural production activities are followed by identifying priority areas for government policy intervention to mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic. Findings of the survey show a wide range decrease in the income of rural households in Viet Nam since the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, in which non-farming income dropped the most, households in border provinces and poor households were affected more severely. Declining incomes and reverse migrant workers have raised concerns on food and nutrition security for the dependents, and social security network in rural areas. Under the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak, surveyed small farmers and rural households mostly adheres to self-relient measures to cope with negative effects of the pandemic such as reducing spending and using savings rather than other measures like availing of agricultural insurance and social insurance. Nevertheless, the surveyed households were quite optimistic about the future. The households that were planning to increase their production scale outnumbered those who were planning to reduce their production scale, and many rural households planned to have more off-farm jobs in the post COVID-19 time. The research also reveals trends of switching agricultural input suppliers due to input prices increases and interrupted input supplies, diversifying agricultural product consumption channels, and digitalizing agricultural production to cope with pandemic quarantine and hygiene measures. For more pandemic resilient livelihoods, most of respondents are expected to receive government support in forms of financial provisions, preferential loans, tax breaks and exemptions, job creation, agricultural input materials, export market opening, vocational training, and favorable conditions for their production and business.
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, agriculture, rural development, small farmers, vulnerable, livelihoods, Viet Nam.