Red River Delta

A Story from the Land

Diversification: A Potential Key to Successful Sustainable Intensification

The Red River Delta in northern Vietnam is a dense network of rivers, canals, dikes, sluice gates and compartmentalized fields that provide livelihoods to workers, families, and smallholder farmers, and food for over 17 million people who live in the Delta. To stay consistently profitable in this risky landscape, many small-scale farmers integrate aquaculture with other crops to create diversified variations of a system called VAC: garden (Vuon) vegetable and orchard crops, fishpond (Ao), and livestock pen (Chuong) in addition to rice production.

This risk management strategy not only protects their income and livelihoods, but also ensures access to food and nutrition, as well as reduces the harm of rice-only cropping and aqua-monocultures: intensified production systems that frequently are unsustainable over time as disease resistance increases, soil fertility is depleted, and wide market swings in these commodities can leave farmers vulnerable to high input costs and negative incomes. Diversification within intensified production systems that integrate a variety of high value crops with rice or aquaculture entails a redesign of farm cropping systems and land uses. Vegetable production systems with crop sequences of 8 to 17 crops over a two-year period enable farmers to diversify crops and provide high quality, nutritious foods. Crop rotations can reduce disease pressure and pesticide use, recycle nitrogen (N) and other nutrients, and allow farmers to select high value crops for particular traits related to growing conditions and market demand.


SfL Pathways: sustainable intensification, water management, soil health, diverse systems

Addressing SDGs: no poverty, zero hunger, decent work and economic growth, climate action, life below water, life on land

Our Vision

An Agricultural Renaissance, led by innovative and entrepreneurial farmers, ranchers and foresters constructing sustainable, profitable and resilient systems that lay the foundation for a world of abundance on many scales capable of producing nutritious food, feed, fiber, clean energy, healthy ecosystems, quality livelihoods, and strong rural economies.