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Wageningen University – Department of Social Sciences

MSc Thesis Development Economics

AGROFORESTRY AND SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS:


A VILLAGE CASE STUDY IN THE BUFER-ZONE OF
BACH MA NATIONAL PARK, VIETNAM

April 2005
MSc International Development Studies

DO VAN NGUYET

Supervisor: Dr ir ROB SCHIPPER


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Think of community as a river which flows on and on. It has flowed for
generations, and will continue to flow. As outsiders, we enter the flow
of the river (community) at a certain point, and exit at another point.
Hopefully, we leave something positive and lasting with the
community. That is sustainable development!

(Davis Case, 1990)

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Summary
“ Agroforestry and Sustainable Livelihoods: A village case study in the buffer
zone of Bach Ma National Park. Vietnam”

Today major challenges developing nations are facing with are those of poverty
alleviation and at the same time, of the continuing loss of unique habitats and the
natural resource degradation. The important question here is what types of
livelihoods is sustainable and feasible. In efforts to promote sustainable
development, in recent decades, agroforestry has emerged as a major new thrust. AF
is simply understood as putting trees on farms for the benefits of farm family and the
environment. It seems to be an ideal option to help poor, small scale farmers living in
fragile, sloping areas to get out of the poverty-environment cycle, with the 3
sustainables “economic, social, ecological”. However, very often in reality, many AF-
oriented interventions have failed in low or weak adoption rate.

Based on this rationale, the main objective of this study is to investigate the
opportunities for promoting sustainable livelihoods of farmers through
Agroforestry in the buffer zone of BMNP. The village of Ha An was selected for the
case study, using sustainable livelihoods framework combining with institutional
economics for data collection and analysis. The field research and the thesis study
first describe about the context and background of the study site and livelihoods
assets, activities and processes of households; and then focus on analyzing the
agroforestry systems and products as a livelihood strategy. Institutions with different
policies, projects, programs and organizations influencing livelihoods and farming
options are discussed throughout different findings and analysis of the study and in
the final part.

The thesis is organized in 8 chapters.

The first three chapters present the research rationale and design, why it is studied
and how. Chapter 1 is the general introduction of the whole thesis, the rationale and
objectives of the research and the research strategy. A literature review on
agroforestry and sustainable livelihoods is given in Chapter 2, in which the author
first analyze the relationship between livelihoods and the environment and the
natural resource base, and then discuss the potential role of agroforestry. Chapter 2
also provides the conceptual framework for the research. The framework is
developed from the sustainable livelihood framework combining with core elements
of institutional economics: institutional environment and institutional arrangements
with the purpose to analyze how institutions influence the development of
sustainable livelihoods throughout the case study. And in Chapter 3, how the
research is design and which techniques are used in the fieldwork are described.

In the next four chapters are the results of the research, findings and analysis.
Chapter 4 presents a detailed description of the study area in the context of an
upland district and in the context of a buffer zone commune; the history of the
village since 1975 and the present bio-physical and socio-economic characteristics of
the village.
The analysis of household livelihoods systems in the village is in Chapter 5, in which
the capital categories in sustainable livelihood frameworks are studied at the
beginning. The main part of Chapter 5 presents and discusses livelihoods activities in
the village, how households use the land and the labour, what livelihood strategies
villagers follow. Livelihoods in Ha An are diverse, within agricultural production
(crops, trees and livestock), within land uses and within income sources (on-farm,
off-farm, non-farm). There is a high level of fruit tree gardens development in Ha An
and almost every family has cash income from fruit tree products. The villagers are
characterized with 3 groups: the group of over 50 year old: they have the best-
developed-gardens and hold largest land size, which include agricultural land and
forest land. The groups of 40 – 50 year old, they are developing home and hill
gardens as the main source of incomes, combining with additional incomes of hired
labour, small trade, home industry, etc. The last group is households of 30-39 year
old, they have the smallest landholding and family size, and depend mostly on wage
employment, hired labour or home industry.

Chapter 6 develops an in-depth analysis of agroforestry systems and products.


Among the 3 main land use systems: home gardens and hill gardens have better
development level than forest gardens. One part in chapter 6 is a market analysis for
agroforestry products, one of the main reasons when farmer select trees to plant.
Farmers are faced with a lot of constraints in market, price fluctuations in planting
fruit trees, industrial crops/ trees and forest trees. The role of agroforestry and the
history of tree-planting in the village are described in this chapter.

Looking further in the factors influencing the process of promoting agroforestry and
sustainable livelihoods, Chapter 7 focuses on institutions, how institutions facilitate
sustainable livelihoods, and household perceptions of support systems. The chapter
describes a profile of institution environment and institution arrangements and
analyze a number of specific policies, program, projects and organizations, which
have brought certain influences on the village’s livelihoods.

Chapter 8 is the final discussions and conclusions. From other chapters, especially
Chapter 6 and 7, this chapter follows with the discussion on the development of
agroforestry and the institutional aspects of sustainable livelihoods. AF, especially
forest garden could offer the 3 sustainables, but there are a lot of constrains to solve
with the market, land tenure and finding the appropriate ecological crops. Can
institutions make a better change? The answer is Yes and No. Chapter 8 addresses
several lessons learnt from the case study combining with empirical development
and conservation experience in Vietnam, and then draws implications and
recommendations.
Acknowledgements

Firstly, I would like to thank Tropenbos International Vietnam Programme for giving
this great opportunity of study in Wageningen University and Research Centre, the
Netherlands and of the field work in the buffer zone of Bach Ma National Park.

I highly appreciate the diverse contacts and environments of friends, researchers and
colleagues Tropenbos has brought to me since the year 2003, both in Vietnam and in
the Netherlands. For this, I would like to extend my thanks to Tropenbos personnel
who worked and are working in Vietnam: Mr. Jan Wind, Ms Hang, Ms Jeannette, Mr
Nghi, Mr Hung, Ms Thu, Ms Tu Anh and Mr Hans and other staff in the Netherlands
for the support of my study and extension months.

I am indebted to local people in Ha An those are warm-hearted, open and made my


stay and field research enjoyable, even during long rainy days. Especially to all
family members of Mr. Phuc family for accepting me as a “relative” and spend a lot
of time guiding me around and answering many difficult questions. I will never
forget the very early morning conversations of villagers in Mr. Phuc’s house, which
are full of open discussions on land, trees and many lively topics for me to hear and
observe.

I am much obliged to my supervisor, Dr. Ir. Rob Schipper for his invaluable support
and guidance to my study in Development Economics and through every stage of
my research and writing thesis. I get more enthusiasm to work on my thesis after
every consultation with him.

Thanks go to development professionals in rural Thua Thien Hue, researchers in Hue


University of Agriculture and Forestry and Bach Ma National Park for their helpful
discussions and logistic supports during the fieldwork. Particularly, I am very happy
to meet Ms Dien and Ms Mai, the rare but very productive female professionals.

With the sincerest regards, I give thanks to my colleagues and friends in Fauna and
Flora International, to Frank Momberg and Quang, Quyet, Trung, Hoang and other
sisters and brothers.

I am very thankful to meet and receive support from Uncle Dau Quoc Anh, Joe
Peters, Lutz Lehmann and a number of people in development and conservation
projects in Vietnam, who offer me great learning opportunities and close friendship.
And thank you, Robert Steele, for giving me encouragement and energy since I was
so young and new to the field of sustainable development.

Thanks to all of my classmates, and my friends in Wageningen who make my stay


here more meaningful and enjoyable.

The deepest gratefulness is to my parents and sisters for their love, especially when a
daughter keeps traveling away from home so often.

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My last words, and the words that remain long are dedicated to Mai Dang Khoa, my
dear colleague - brother whom is no longer seen again. But his love for rural work
and his heart for poor communities are still alive and encourage me and many other
development workers to go in this challenging world.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

SUMMARY.............................................................................................................................iv
Acknowledgements...............................................................................................................vi

TABLE OF CONTENTS ....................................................................................................viii


List of Tables............................................................................................................................xiii
List of Figures..........................................................................................................................xiii
List of Boxes.............................................................................................................................xiv
List of Photos ...........................................................................................................................xiv
ABBREVIATIONS..................................................................................................................xv

Chapter 1. Introduction ........................................................................................................ 1


1.1 Problem statement .......................................................................................................... 1
1.2 Introduction of research area - Bach Ma National Park ................................................. 3
1.3 Research objectives .......................................................................................................... 4
1.4 Thesis structure .............................................................................................................. 5

Chapter 2. Literature review and conceptual framework .............................................. 6


2.1 Literature review............................................................................................................. 6
2.2 Conceptual framework .................................................................................................. 10

Chapter 3: Research methodology.................................................................................... 13


3.1 Research design ............................................................................................................. 13
3.2 Research units ............................................................................................................... 15
3.3 Techniques used for data collection............................................................................... 15
3.3.1 Secondary data .................................................................................................... 15
3.3.2 Primary data ........................................................................................................ 16
3.4. Data analysis................................................................................................................ 18

Chapter 4. The study area: History and Characteristics, Development and


Conservation......................................................................................................................... 19
4.1 General description of the study area............................................................................ 19
4.1.1 In the context of Nam Dong – an upland district........................................... 20
4.1.2 In the context of Huong Phu commune – one buffer zone commune ........ 23
4.2 History of Ha An village............................................................................................... 23
4.2.1 The Migration and Cooperative period in New Economic Zones: 1975 –
1986 ................................................................................................................................ 24
4.2.2 The Doi Moi period from 1986........................................................................... 25
4.2.3 Driving out of poverty: The emergence of (fruit tree) garden – based
livelihoods..................................................................................................................... 27
4.3 The present picture of the study site: Ecological and socio-economic characteristics ... 28
4.3.1 Ecological characteristic of Ha An village....................................................... 28

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4.3.2 Socio-economic characteristics of Ha An village............................................ 31

Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies: How Ha An people make a


living? ....................................................................................................................................43
5.1 Characteristics of interviewed households ....................................................................43
5.2 Livelihood capital and assets .........................................................................................45
5.2.1 Natural and physical capital .............................................................................45
5.2.2 Financial capital ..................................................................................................48
5.2.3 Human capital .....................................................................................................49
5.2.4 Social capital ........................................................................................................51
5.3 Livelihood activities.......................................................................................................53
5.3.1 Overview..............................................................................................................53
5.3.2 Income sources ....................................................................................................55
5.4 Livelihoods strategies ....................................................................................................58
5.4.1 Agricultural intensification/extensification ...................................................59
5.4.2 Diversification .....................................................................................................60
5.4.3 Migration..............................................................................................................61
5.4.4 An interaction of household’s livelihood strategies: Farm – Non-farm
Linkage ..........................................................................................................................63
5.5 An integrated system of livelihood assets, activities and strategies of different age
groups .................................................................................................................................63

Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems.......................................................................................68


6.1 Household land use and agroforestry systems ..............................................................68
6.1.1 Vuon nha (Home garden) ...................................................................................69
6.1.2 Vuon doi (Hill garden) ........................................................................................71
6.1.3 Vuon rung (Forest Garden) ................................................................................72
6.2 Market and development analysis for AF products ......................................................75
6.2.1 Fruit trees .............................................................................................................77
6.2.2 Industrial crops/trees ........................................................................................79
6.2.3 Forest trees ...........................................................................................................80
6.3 Evaluation of AF systems, products and benefits .........................................................82
6.3.1 Evaluation of AF systems and products..........................................................82
6.3.2 Farmers’ perceptions of AF benefits ................................................................83

Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods........................................86


7.1 Profiles of institutions...................................................................................................87
7.1.1 Profiles of policies, projects and programs .....................................................87
7.1.2 Profile of local organizations and other institutional arrangements ...........89
7.1.3 Participation of Ha An villagers in development and conservation
projects/programs .......................................................................................................90
7.2 Perceptions of the role of institutions in household livelihoods ....................................91
7.2.1 Policies, strategies on socio-economic development .....................................91
7.2.2 PR-133 and PR-135, programme for the most Difficult and Remote
Communes and other upland development interventions ...................................92
7.2.3 Forest management and forestland allocation programs .............................94

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7.2.4 Perceptions of other community-based projects/programs and institutional
arrangements................................................................................................................97
7.3 General assessment on institution facilitating sustainable livelihoods ........................99

Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion..........................................................................102


8.1 The development of agroforestry as sustainable livelihoods..........................................102
8.1.1 The development of agroforestry .....................................................................102
8.1.2 How sustainable is AF?......................................................................................104
8.2 Can institutions bring better change? ..........................................................................107
8.2.1 The answer is “Yes”, and there are good practices to learn and replicate...107
8.2.2 The answer is “No”, and there are good lessons to draw and many things
to do... ............................................................................................................................109
8.3 Implications and recommendations ..............................................................................110
8.4 Issues for further research .............................................................................................112

REFERENCES.......................................................................................................................115

Appendices ......................................................................................................................... 124


Appendix 1: Questionnaires ............................................................................................. 124
Appendix 2: Land cover dynamics during period 1989 – 1996 – 2003............................ 129
Appendix 3: Economic values of protected areas and incentives ...................................... 130
Appendix 4: List of the trees in Ha an: what encourage and discourages farmer to plant 131
Appendix 5. Prices for AF products in Ha An and Nam Dong ....................................... 138
Appendix 6. Profile of policies, strategies, projects and programs in the study site......... 139
Appendix 7. Persons contacted ......................................................................................... 143

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List of Tables 
Table 3.1: Research methodological framework 16
Table 4.1: Percent of the population of selected communes who derive a major part of their
income from forest product collection and sale 25
Table 4.2: Land categories in Ha An (Source: Huong Phu commune, HUAFa, 2003) 35
Table 4.3: General information of the district, the commune and Ha An village in 2003 37
Table 4.4: Demography change of Ha An village from 1999 until June, 2003 38
Table 4.5: Income source in Ha An in 2002 40
Table 5.1: Goods and services provided by Bach Ma National Park and the buffer zone 44
Table 5.2: Land data of Huong Phu and Ha An 47
Table 5.3: Household characteristics of interviewed groups 49
Table 5.4: A normal working day calendar of household 51
Table 5.5: How assets and capital influence farmers’ decision and preference for livelihoods
and garden development 52
Table 5.6: Sectors and activities for analysis of household livelihoods in Ha An 54
Table 5.7: Number and Percentage of household in buffer-zone villages of Huong Phu
commune having different garden income 55
Table 5.8: Ranking income sources between interviewed groups 57
Table 5.9: Profile of Off-farm and Non-farm Livelihoods in the village 58
Table 5.10: Number of households participating in different income-generating activities 61
Table 5.11: An integrated system of livelihood assets, activities and strategies of different
age groups 65
Table 6.1: Characteristics of different land uses 74
Table 6.2: History of tree-planting in Ha An since 1975 (Source: Field survey 2004) 75
Table 6.3: Villagers’ preferences for trees 83
Table 7.1: Projects/programme administered by communal office in Huong Phu since 2000 87
Table 7.2: Profiles of the current projects, programs in Ha An 88
Table 7.3: What types of project and support you like: Perceptions of farmers over some
projects and institutional arrangement in Ha An 98

List of Figures
Figure 1.1: Map of Vietnam and BMNP and the buffer zone 4
Figure 2.1: Conceptual framework 11
Figure 4.1: Poverty map of Thua Thien Hue province 22
Figure 4.2: Temperature and rainfall in Nam Dong district 34
Figure 4.3: Income source in Ha An in 2002-2003 41
Figure 5.1: Average land holding size (m2) of interviewed groups 48
Figure 5.2: Ranking of income sources 56
Figure 5.3: Share of Gardening in the total household income of Interviewee groups 56
Figure 6.1: Transect map of land use in Ha An 69
Figure 7.1: Venn diagram on local organizations and other institutional arrangements 89
Figure 7.2: The participation of villagers in projects and programs in Ha An 90
Figure 8.1: Agriculture, AF and natural forest systems 108

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List of Boxes 
Box 4.1: Poverty and Disadvantaged communes 21
Box 4.2: Functions of the buffer zone 24
Box 4.3: Major events in history of Ha An village 26
Box 4.4: Shifting cultivation: A clarification on pioneering agriculture 27
Box 5.1: History of livelihoods in Ha An 59
Box 6.1 A rapid survey on fruits market transaction and middlemen 78
Box 6.2: Why are farmers not interested in planting forest trees? 81
Box 7.1: A tale of two irrigation works 93
Box 7.2: History of a hill 94
Box 7.3: Difficulties faced in forestland allocation 95
Box 7.4: A tale of two Plantation Forests 96

List of Photos
Photo 4.1: The mountainous district Nam Dong with forest, fallow land and agricultural
surfaces 20
Photo 4.2: Several home gardens disappeared after the 1999 flood. 31
Photo 4.3-4.6: North, south, east and west of Ha An 34
Photo 5.1: The way to hill gardens and forest gardens 46
Photo 5.2: The new-built elementary school of Huong Phu commune locates in Ha An 50
Photo 5.3: Kept-livestock 57
Photo 5.4: Diversity in home garden 61
Photo 6.1, 6.2: Multi-layer home gardens 70
Photo 6.3: A hill garden: ginger under the shade of cinnamon 71
Photo 6.4: A young hill garden in a mini-valley 71
Photo 6.5: Land uses in Ha An 72
Photo 6.6 Land use in other village in Nam Dong 72
Photo 6.7, 6.8: Forest gardens in Ha An 73
Photo 6.9: An early morning fruit market 77
Photo 7.1: Irrigation work funded under PR-327 93
Photo 7.2: Irrigation work supported by DED 93
Photo 7.3: Hilly areas used for wood-oil tree plantation in PAM-WFP are cleared for rubber
plantation 94
Photo 7.4: Forest garden under PR-327 in Ha An 96
Photo 7.5: Forest garden on a privatized land in Huong Loc commune, Nam Dong district 96
Photo 8.1: An 8th grade student is helping family with picking up fruit after class. 114

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ABBREVIATIONS

ADB Asian Development Bank


AF Agroforestry
BMNP Bach Ma National Park
CIDSE Cooperation Internationale pour le Developpment et la Solidarite
DED Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst, German Development Service
DFID The Department for International Development (UK)
Doi moi Vietnam’s institutional reform /renovation policy
EC European Commission
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization
FFI Fauna & Flora International
FIPI Forest Inventory and Planning Institute
FPD Forest Protection Department
GIS Geographic Information System
HUAF Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry
ICARD Information center for agricultural and rural development in Vietnam
ICEM International Centre for Environmental Management
ICRAF The International Centre for Research in Agro-forestry
IDS International Development Studies
IDS Institute of Development Studies
IFPRI International Food Policy Research Institute
IIRRP International Institute of Rural Reconstruction Philippines
IUCN The World Conservation Union
MARD Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
MARD Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
NAV Nordic Assistance to Vietnam
NEZ New Economic Zones
NIE New Institutional Economics
NGOs Non-Governmental Organizations
NPs National Parks
NTFPs Non-Timber Forest Products
ODA Overseas Development Assistance
PAM Programme Alimentaire Mondial
PAs Protected areas
PPC Provincial People’s Committee
PR-133 National Target Program for Hunger Eradication and Poverty
Reduction
PR-135 The Program for the most Difficult and Remote Communes
PR-327 The National Program on restoration of barren lands and Denuded
Hills
PR-661 The Five million hectare Programme
PRA Participatory Rural Appraisal
SFNC Social Forestry and Nature Conservation Project
SNV Netherlands Development Organisation
SO Statistical office
SPAM Project “Strengthening Protected Area Management in Vietnam”
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme

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UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
VAC Integrated fish pond-livestock pen-home garden systems
VND: Vietnam Dong (Currency of Vietnam)
WB World Bank
WFP World Food Programme
WWF World Wide Fund for Nature

ha hectare
km2 square kilometer
m2 square meter
m3 cubic meter
ha hectare
km2 square kilometer
m2 square meter
m3 cubic meter
VND Vietnam Dong (1 USD ~ 15.500 VND)

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Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 1. Introduction

This first chapter will provide the rationale of the research on agroforestry and
sustainable livelihoods, why it is made, with what objectives, by what strategy and
how the research will be presented in the following chapters.

The rationale will discuss the situation of people living in fragile places in
developing countries, who are facing with issues of poverty and environmental
degradation. Agroforestry (AF) is one ideal sustainability solution and are promoted
by many conservation and rural development interventions. Much have been
discussed about the role of AF, however little is known about its successes and
feasibility in reality. Many AF efforts resulted in poor rates of adoption.

How successful is AF in the reality? How attractive is agroforestry to poor, small-


scale farmers? This study wants to investigate AF in the context of one village in
Vietnam, using the Case study strategy. The background information in AF,
livelihoods and the method descriptions are explored further in the coming chapters.

1.1 Problem statement

People in developing countries depend in a number of important ways on their


natural resources, from everyday needs to export earnings. Today major challenges
developing nations are facing with are those of poverty alleviation and at the same
time, of the continuing loss of unique habitats and the natural resource degradation.
Eight hundred million people who live within and around the world's richest
biodiversity areas (known as biodiversity "hotspots") suffer from massive poverty
and food insecurity (McNeely and Scherr, 2001).

The important question here is what types of livelihoods is sustainable and feasible.
On the way out of poverty, livelihood activities can improve productivity of
renewable resources like air and river water, soil, organic soil fertility, and trees. On
the negative side, livelihood activities may contribute to desertification,
deforestation, soil erosion, declining water tables, salinisation and the like (Chamber
and Conway, 1992).

In efforts to promote sustainable development, in recent decades, agroforestry has


emerged as a major new thrust (Wiersum, FAO, 1991). Over the years farmers, with
little or no assistance from outsiders, have practiced numerous forms of AF.
Indigenous knowledge about trees and their use in farming systems often constitutes
an integral part of the rural household survival strategies (FAO, 1991: 6). As a result
of the decline in agriculture production, and increase in resource degradation rate,
governments and international agencies are now promoting AF systems which
hopefully represented more productive forms of land use. With the promise on the
concept of sustainability, the underlying intention in promoting these land use
systems was to enable farmers to obtain cash surpluses while satisfying household

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Chapter 1. Introduction

survival needs. As an ancient art and a modern science, AF has great potential to
livelihoods of farmers. (FAO, 1991: 8).

The Vision of World Agroforestry Center is that: By 2010, through agroforestry, 80


million people living in poverty will have more options for improved livelihoods,
and the global environment will be more sustainable. AF should be adopted by
around 15-20 million of agricultural poor by 2010 and 30-50 million of agricultural
poor by 2020. (ICRAF, 2004)

In a struggle to escape from poverty and conserve the natural resources base “gold
forest and silver seas” in Vietnam, agroforestry is seen as one of most potentially
effective methods (Mittleman, 2001). There are presently about 25 million, one third
of the national population living in mountainous areas of Vietnam, depending much
on forest resources for their livelihoods. Living in homeplaces of rich biodiversity
and great natural resource potential, however upland farmers have to cope with high
rural poverty and serious problems of environmental degradation. Vietnam, like
most developing countries, faces the formidable challenge of alleviating rural
poverty while ensuring the integrity of natural resources systems fundamental to
sustainable development (Mittleman, 1997).

Since 1987, the country has achieved remarkable economic development and
transformation from a centralized planning economy to market-driven system. In
less than ten years, a third of Vietnam’s population, or as many as 20 million people,
have been lifted out of poverty (WB, 2003). However, the ongoing economic
renovation process doi moi is creating complex issues of population, environmental
degradation and socio-economic differentiation for the development of the uplands
of Vietnam. Pressure on land, water, energy and other natural resources including
biodiversity is becoming serious (Le Trong Cuc, 2003). From 1965 through early
1990s, a substantial amount of national forest has been lost, from 40% to 26% of total
land area (BAP, 1994).

Agroforestry is promoted as an ideal option for rehabilitating ‘barren hills’ – those 10


million hectares of sloping land that have been denuded of forest cover and
degraded by shifting cultivation, burning and other practices (Morrison and Dubois,
1998 stated in Woods, 2001). Agroforestry is seen as a means of achieving sustainable
management of sloping land - by providing the tree cover required to reduce erosion
as well as livelihoods for upland farmers (MARD, 2000).

However, in the setting of low-income nations like Vietnam the efforts to integrate
environment protection and conservation with rural development objectives, as in
the case of AF were frequently unsuccessful. The imperfect conditions of the market
and economy, lack of institutional support, adverse government policies and
insecure property rights are obstacles for enabling environment for sustainable
livelihoods of local people. At the same time, a major challenge for the government
and natural resource management authorities is to shift from a predominantly
protective conservation policy towards encouraging sustainable systems for
production of livelihood at the sake of the local population (Gilmour and San, N. V.,
1999; Deters et al, 2002).

While the potential for AF to help solve the problems of poverty and environmental
destruction is now clear, it is far from being fully realized (Mittleman, 1997). In a

2
Chapter 1. Introduction

study on Agro- and Community Forestry in Vietnam to make recommendations for


development support, Mittleman pointed out that resources available to support the
development of AF in Vietnam are very limited (Mittleman, 1997). It has generally
failed to bring about any widespread change in farmers’ agroforestry practices (Nair,
1996; Morrison and Dubois, 1998 stated in Woods and Petheram, 2001; Foerster and
Nguyen Huu Tho, 1999). Many poor farmers in remote areas, including forest
dwellers, cannot access extension services, or they find the recommended
technologies too complicated and expensive in external inputs (Hoang Huu Cai et al,
2000; Woods and Petheram, 2001). For decades, a top-down approach has been used
by lowland policy makers in formulating policies on upland development, without
considering local initiatives and interests (Nguyen, 2001).

Much has been written about the potential of AF to contribute to rural livelihoods,
but little is known of their actual impact and effectiveness. In this study, I therefore
intended to respond to sustainable livelihoods development and natural resources
management approaches locally, building on the case study from Vietnam. The field
research and the thesis are to gain an insight of rural livelihoods and agroforestry, its
potential and challenges in the context of a Vietnamese village. The study is based on
one case study to be carried out in one biodiversity hotspot in Vietnam: the buffer-
zone communities of Bach Ma National Park.

1.2 Introduction of research area - Bach Ma National Park


Bach Ma National Park (BMNP) is situated 45 km south east of Hue in Central
Vietnam. It is the core of the last remaining closed forest belt in Vietnam, extending
from the coast of the South China sea to the border of Lao PDR. Bach Ma Mountain
(1,444 m) is at the centre of the park, which has an area of 22,000 ha and a buffer zone
of approx. 23,000 ha. With more than 1,300 described species of plants (19% of all
plant species of Vietnam on 0.07% of Vietnam's total area), the area is considered an
Indochina’s hotspot of plant biodiversity. Two large mammal species, only described
in the 90ies of the 20th century, the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) and the giant
muntjac (Megamuntiacus vuquangensis), also occur in the park. The area has a high
percentage of animal species endemic to Vietnam, but occurring only in a few of
Vietnam's provinces (such as the southern white-cheeked gibbon and Edward's
pheasant) (Le Van Lan et al, 2002; DED).

The protected area is surrounded by a buffer zone of approximately 21,300 hectares.


Around 65,000 people in 12,285 households are estimated living there. Population
density in the buffer zone is high (158 inhabitants per km2) and is likely to increase
within the near future. The pressure the human population is exerting on the
National Park is enormous. Local communities largely cultivate wet rice and the
society is characterized by a high dependency upon agriculture (Le Van Lan et al,
2002).

The socio-economic situation in the buffer zone of Bach Ma National Park is in many
ways similar to other protected areas throughout Vietnam: the average income per
head is low at around 250 USD per year, equivalent to 70 percent of the national
income per head, and 40 percent of all households are classified as poor (Le Van Lan
et al, 2002). Furthermore, the area provides difficult conditions to achieve high

3
Chapter 1. Introduction

agricultural output and is blighted by natural disasters. The severe flood in Thua
Thien Hue province in 1999, for example, has reduced the growth rate in the local
agricultural sector considerably to -3.9 percent in that year (Phu Loc Statistical Office,
2001, cited in Le Van Lan et al, 2002). Consequently, without alternative economic
incentives to agriculture, many households continue to use and commercialize illegal
forest products, such as timber, firewood, and non-wood forest products (Le Van
Lan et al, 2002).

Figure 1.1 Map of Vietnam and BMNP and the buffer zone
(Source: Le Tien Phong, 2004)

One project of Tropenbos-Vietnam is to develop integrated forestry and agroforestry


management systems for the buffer-zone of BMNP. The systems are being designed
for environment protection and income generation of the farmers in the 3 selected
villages. The fieldwork therefore was carried out in one of three villages, to explore
and analyze situation of AF, the benefits, the constraining and enabling factors and
develop further implication for AF system in BMNP or other places (Figure 1.1, the
red star represents the location of Ha An village in Huong Phu commune).

1.3 Research objectives

The main objective of this study is to investigate the opportunities for promoting
sustainable livelihoods of farmers through Agroforestry in the buffer zone of BMNP.
The study will shed light on how farmer make their land (resources)-use decision
and select their livelihood strategies and the roles of institutions in promoting
sustainable livelihoods interventions.

The specific objectives are:


(1) to describe the current socio-economic-ecological situation of the village and
households
(2) to describe household livelihood assets, activities and strategies

4
Chapter 1. Introduction

(3) to analyse the development of AF systems and AF products, and why and
how farmers plant trees.
(4) to analyse the role of institutions (institution environment and institution
arrangements) in promoting AF and sustainable livelihoods, and
(5) to give recommendations for promoting AF as a sustainable livelihoods

The author of this thesis hopes to contribute to a better understanding of the


livelihoods situation and the problems of people living in buffer zones on the way
out of vicious cycle of poverty-environment degradation. The findings and
discussions on institutional factors influencing agroforestry and livelihood strategies
will make an improved reference to conservation and development practitioners and
other individuals and organisations working in uplands.

1.4 Thesis structure


The thesis is structured in eight chapters with three main parts: research
methodology is developed in the first three chapters, research findings and
discussions are presented from Chapter 4 to Chapter 7, and the final chapter is
conclusions and research implications.

The first three chapters present the research rationale and design, why it is studied
and how. Chapter 1 is the general introduction of the whole thesis, the rationale and
objectives of the research and the research strategy. A literature review on
agroforestry and sustainable livelihoods is given in Chapter 2, in which the author
first analyze the relationship between livelihoods and the environment and the
natural resource base, and then discuss the potential role of agroforestry. Chapter 2
also provides the conceptual framework for the research. The framework is
developed from the sustainable livelihood framework combining with core elements
of institutional economics: institutional environment and institutional arrangements
with the purpose to analyze how institutions influence the development of
sustainable livelihoods throughout the case study. And in Chapter 3, how the
research is design and which techniques are used in the fieldwork are described.

In the next four chapters are the results of the research, findings and analysis.
Chapter 4 presents a detailed description of the study area, from the history of the
village to the bio-physical and socio-economic characteristics of the village. Some
discussion about characteristics of interviewed villagers is also in this chapter. The
analysis of household livelihoods systems in the village is in Chapter 5, in which the
capital categories in sustainable livelihood frameworks are studied at the beginning.
The main part of Chapter 5 presents and discusses livelihoods activities in the
village, how households use the land and the labour, what livelihood strategies
villagers follow.

Chapter 6 and 7 develop an in-depth analysis of agroforestry and institutions


facilitating sustainable livelihoods in the case study. The role of agroforestry and the
history of tree-planting in the village are described, and under this time perspective,
there is a discussion over reasons for planting trees and not planting trees. One part
in chapter 6 is a market analysis for agroforestry products, one of the main reasons
when farmer select trees to plant. Looking further in the factors influencing the

5
Chapter 1. Introduction

process of promoting agroforestry and sustainable livelihoods, Chapter 7 focuses on


institutions and household perceptions of support systems. The chapter gives an
insight of impacts of institution environment and institution arrangements,
analyzing specific policies, program, projects and organizations, which have brought
certain influences on the village’s livelihoods.

Chapter 8 is the final discussions and conclusions. From other chapters, especially
Chapter 6 and 7, this chapter follows with the discussion on the development of
agroforestry and the institutional aspects of sustainable livelihoods. The chapter
addresses several lessons learnt from the case study combining with empirical
development and conservation experience in Vietnam, and then draws implications
and recommendations.

6
Chapter 2. Literature review and conceptual framework

Chapter 2. Literature review and conceptual framework

2.1 Literature review

In this section, I will first discuss the rural livelihoods and its complex relationships
with the natural resource environment. Then literature review on agroforestry will
give a broad picture of introduction of AF, its problems and research needs.

The livelihoods I use in my study is in the context of developing countries, in rural,


local level and in fragile environments. The fragile ecosystems in the study include
marginal and low–favoured areas which account for large shares of remaining forest
resources, natural rangelands and desert margins and encompass most upper
watersheds, including the watershed protection areas for many of the largest river
basins in the developing world. They also contain large amounts of unique
biodiversity, and are origin sites for many important food and tree crops. With such
bounty, resource degradation in these areas can have serious environmental
consequences that extend well beyond their boundaries (Hazell, 2002).

2.1.1 Livelihoods and natural resource base

Livelihoods

A livelihood in its simplest sense is a means of gaining a living. Livelihood, as


defined by Chambers and Conway (1992), comprises the capabilities, assets
(including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of
living. A livelihood is sustainable “when it can cope with and recover from stresses
and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, and provide net benefits
to other livelihoods locally and more widely, both now and in the future, while not
undermining the natural resource base” (Definition of Institute of Development
Studies; Carney, 1998).

Asset portfolio, which comprises of natural resources, human, on–farm and off–farm
physical and financial capital, and out of which people construct and contrive a
living, is the most complex component of a household livelihood (Chambers, 1992).
Among asset categories, natural resources (soil and its cover, water, forests, animals,
and fisheries) are an important 'safety–net' for the poor in developing countries. With
the major population staying in the rural areas and agricultural production, people in
developing countries are much dependant on natural resources for living subsistence
and cash income.

For example, in one informative study of livelihoods in a microwatershed in the


central Himalayas (India), the findings were that, of the total number of the hours
worked by the villagers sampled, 30 per cent was devoted to cultivation, 20 per cent
to fodder collection, and about 25 per cent was spread evenly between fuel collection,
animal care, and grazing. Some 20 per cent of time was spent on household chores

7
Chapter 2. Literature review and conceptual framework

with cooking took up the greatest portion, and the remaining 5 per cent was
involved in other activities (Dasgupta and Maler, 1994). Come what may, developing
countries can be expected to remain largely rural economies for a long while yet
(Dasgupta and Maler, 1994).

There are many challenges for livelihoods of poor people living in fragile ecosystems,
discourage them from implementing sustainable practices. Rural households are
compounded by lack of access to resources and appropriate technologies, and
limitations of access roads for diversifying farm and non–farm activities. Low
agricultural output prices, market distortions undervaluing scarce resources, heavy
discounting of future income streams, and insecure property rights take away
incentives for investments in resource conservation. Unclear or overlapping
ownership and use rights to land, forest and water resources are frequently a source
of conflict, especially when population pressure increases and where indigenous
people face competition from new settlers (Baland and Platteau, 1996; Hazell, 2002).

In general, to manage risk (ex ante) and cope with loss (ex post), faced with the high
risk that typifies agriculture in environmentally fragile areas, the rural poor earn
income from a variety of sources: in gathering (local flora and fauna), in farming and
livestock husbandry, and in the nonagricultural sector (in local and migration
activities) (Reardon & Vosti, 1995; Agudelo et all, 2003).

Livelihoods – Environment relationships: Malthusiam pessimism vs.


Boserupian optimism?

There are different perspectives and empirical evidence about the relationship
between development and environment, between population growth, poverty and
the condition of natural resources.

A broad literature dating back to Thomas Malthus (1798) associates natural resource
sustainability with human management. Farmers are viewed as being pushed by
population growth and poverty to exploit fragile, marginal soils, degrading the
resource base (Reardon & Vosti, 1996; Agudelo, 2003). Malthus and many authors in
the past few decades have conceptualized the link between rural poverty and
environment as a “downward spiral” with population growth and economic
marginalisation leading to environmental degradation. Resource fragility and
poverty are considered to be the triggers of a vicious circle leading to exploitation of
yet more fragile resources, and the poor (without migration to other areas) are
destined to increasing poverty and natural resource exhaustion (Scherr, 2000;
Agudelo, 2003). Livelihood improvements come at the expense of natural
environment and biodiversity.

In the past few decades, a more optimistic perspective has emerged. Boserup (1965)
and many others argued that as population pressure grows and labour becomes less
costly relative to land, then a process of “induced innovation” occurs whereby
communities invest in agricultural intensification and in improving their natural
resources (Darity, 1980; Hayami and Ruttan, 1985; Hazell, 2002). Many examples
have proven that population growth and very high population densities can be
consistent with sustainable agricultural practices (Templeton and Scherr, 1997;
Pender, 1998). Recent micro–scale empirical research challenges the “downward

8
Chapter 2. Literature review and conceptual framework

spiral”, showing striking heterogeneity in environmental management by the rural


poor, their success in adapting to environmental change and the efficacy of policies
in influencing outcomes (Scherr, 2000).

There has been mixed empirical evidence, supporting both the Boserupian optimism
and the Malthusian pessimism about the impacts on natural resources and the
environment (Lele and Stone, 1989; Panayotou, 1993; Pender, 1998; Hazell, 2002). On
the one hand, findings from across Latin America or elsewhere continue to show
natural resource problems and related livelihood practices in different types of eco–
regions (Swinton, 2003). In the rainforest, biodiversity and forest ecosystem services
abound, but are threatened by depletion for wood products and agricultural land
clearing. In the mountains, practices as continuous cropping, overgrazing, or
pesticide overuse threaten the farmed soils of unprotected hillsides and common
natural pastures and degrade natural resource’s productivity. In the arid coastal
plain, extensive grazing of common pastures threatens the survival of the sparse
vegetative cover.

On the other hand, there are an increasing number of successful sustainable


livelihoods. McNeely and Scherr (2001) located approximately 35 situations within
the biodiversity hotspots worldwide in which agricultural productivity and
biodiversity have remained steady or even increased. They then identified common
elements from these case studies that, under the umbrella term ecoagriculture, could
serve as universal strategies for farming that is both productive and sustainable. For
example: establish more protected areas around farms that benefit farmers and local
people (such as windbreaks or no–take reserves that increase fish yields elsewhere);
modify the mix of spacing between crops and non–crops to mimic natural habitat;
improve the ways farmers manage soil and water (for example, by switching back to
leaving fields fallow) to create environments that are more supportive of wildlife
(McNeely and Scherr, 2001).

Again, these examples, from both theory and empirical findings illustrate the
complexity that emerges when the processes surrounding different livelihoods are
considered in detail in specific circumstances. On the way out of poverty, the rural
population may over-exploit the resource base, due to the lack of investment assets,
high discounting of future income streams and liquidity constrains. At the same
time, there is good ground to believe that some livelihood strategies of agricultural
intensification/extensification, income diversification and migration could both
improve natural resources and reduce household poverty (Nguyet, 2004; Readorn
and Vosti, 2003).

The questions now are: How to facilitate practices of sustainable livelihoods? What
kinds of changes must happen (for example, to institutional arrangements, the
development of public–private partnerships and the like), that not only help to
improve livelihoods, but also serve resource conservation goals? This study will
focus on answer to these questions by exploring the potentials and challenges of
promoting agroforestry – a recognised sustainable livelihoods in a case study in
Vietnam.

9
Chapter 2. Literature review and conceptual framework

2.1.2 Agroforestry for development

The complex livelihoods–poverty–environment links finds that rural farmers can


achieve sustainable economic activities, but they may be too “investment–poor” or
lack of incentives to protect the environment (Reardon and Vosti, 1995).

Rarely if ever would a poor family farmer typical of developing countries whose
capita yearly income is only $100 to 200 invest $500 or more to raise a hectare of
maize or rice (Kidd and David, 1992: 103). Only a few wealthy farmers in developing
countries can invest $500 to 600 per hectare (ha) for high-input agricultural systems
(Kidd and David, 1992: 103). This generates the interest in small-scale, low-input
agriculture for rural farmers in developing countries.

Within the family of small-scale, low-energy-input systems, agroforestry has been


selected for special attention (Kidd and David, 1992). Agroforestry is arguably a
more sustainable and optimal way of farming in most resource-limited
environments. This seems to be especially true in the populous tropical areas as the
Pacific where growing and developing populations are confined to relatively small
and scattered areas (AIS, 1992).

AF could be simply understood as putting trees on farms for the benefits of farm
family and the environment. In this study, the definition or AF is the one ICRAF has
used since the early 1980s as follows: "Agroforestry is a collective name for land-use
systems and technologies where woody perennials are deliberately used on the same
land management units as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial
arrangement or temporal sequence. In agroforestry systems there are both ecological
and economical interactions between the different components" (Lundgren 1987: 48).

Historically, AF is an ancient practice that was transferred from the realm of


indigenous knowledge into agricultural research about 25 years ago (Bene et al,
1977). During the 1980s, agroforestry became an established focus of international
rural development efforts (Sanchez, 1999; Mercer and Miller, 1988).

The promise of AF and other intergrated biological farming systems is that they can
help to attain 3 sustainables in those environments where low-energy-input, small-
scale agriculture is appropriate: sustainable because they preserve the environment
necessary to continued productivity; sustainable because they reduce economic
vulnerability; and sustainable because by lifting rural people to new levels of dignity
and prosperity they are socially and economically as well as environmentally
sustainable (Garrity, 2004).

AF and related systems are not panaceas for food and fuel production. The world as
a whole must continues to depend heavily, at least for a substantial period, on large-
scale, high-energy-input, mono agriculture. However, tens of millions of rural
farmers and their families and communities could live better lives if small-scale,
integrated resource management systems could be more widely adopted. (Kidd and
David, 1992).

Despite some impressive scientific and technological advances, agroforestry rural


development efforts were frequently unsuccessful (Nair, 1996). Although
agroforestry projects failed for a number of different reasons, one common factor

10
Chapter 2. Literature review and conceptual framework

was the inadequate attention given to socioeconomics in the development of systems


and projects. As Current et al. (1995) point out, many projects failed because
producing benefits for farmers was rarely an important objective of agroforestry. To
remedy this, many agroforestry institutions are now calling for increased
socioeconomic research (Garrity, 2004).

This provides a rationale for this research, in order to obtain insight into the
opportunities and challenges for the development and promotion of AF as a
sustainable pathway.

2.2 Conceptual framework


To study AF among household livelihoods activities and strategies, I adapt the
sustainable livelihoods approaches used by a number of international development
agencies like the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and OXFAM
in the combination with New Institutional Economics (NIE) (Figure 2.1)

The key question to be asked in any analysis of sustainable livelihoods is: Given a
particular context (of policy setting, politics, history, agro-ecology and socio-
economic conditions), what combination of livelihood resources (different types of
‘capital’) result in the ability to follow what combination of livelihood strategies
(agricultural intensification/extensification, livelihood diversification and migration)
with what outcomes (Scoones, 1998: 3)? Of particular interest in this framework are
the institutional processes (embedded in a matrix of formal and informal institutions
and organisations) which mediate the ability to carry out such strategies (Scoones,
1998: 3).

11
Chapter 2. Literature review and conceptual framework

Combining with new institutional economics (NIE), I adapted the framework for
analysis as Figure 2.1. In which the institutional environment, and institutional
arrangements identified by Davis and North (1971) are:

- Institutional arrangements are the forms of contract or arrangement that are


set up for particular transactions (share cropping and commission sales are
examples for land and commodity transactions respectively).
- The institutional environment (sometimes known as the institutional
framework) is the broader set of institutions (or ‘rules of the game’) within
which people and organisations develop and implement specific institutional
arrangements. (Davis and North, 1971 cited in Morrison et al, 2000)

An important insight arising from NIE is the relationship between the institutional
environment, institutional arrangements, and peoples’ activities. As Morrison et al.
discuss that NIE provides an analytical framework for examining the importance and
effects of policies, institutions, and processes that make up the formal and informal
institutional environment, from international and national institutions to those, such
as gender relations, operating within communities and households (Morrison et al,
2000). This gives insights into the pressures for, constraints on and possible effects of
institutional change (on resource access, utilisation and productivity; on
opportunities for and constraints on trade based activities; and on livelihood
outcomes for different people).

Many studies pointed out the critical role of institutions and policy environment in
livelihood sustainability, both in the sense of exclusion from access to institutions
(such as credit markets), and exclusion by institutions (such as the tenure system
preventing access to land for certain social actors). Institutional arrangements which
determine who gains and who loses in the struggle for livelihood security and
sustainability; are an essential, yet often overlooked, point of entry for policies to
tackle vulnerability and natural resource degradation (Hoff and Stigliz, 1993;
Reardon and Vosti, 1995; Heltberg, 2001).

In the other hand, failures of both the state and market as resource property regime
in delivering promises on managing the common resources efficiently and equitably,
have lead to strong rationale for “co–management”, “decentralization”, or
“community-based” approach with a focus on the role of local organisations (Baland
and Platteau, 1996; Heltberg, 2001). Poor farmers not only are “beneficiaries” of
policies but also have “seat at the table” where agricultural and environmental
policies and programmes are designed and “rule of the games” established (Scherr,
2000).

Based on this conceptual framework for data collection and analysis, the study will
first discuss the context and background of the study site and livelihoods assets,
activities and processes of households, and then focus on analyzing the agroforestry
systems and products as a livelihood strategy. Institutions with different policies,
projects, programs and organizations influencing livelihoods and farming options
will be discussed throughout different findings and analysis of the study and in the
final part.

12
Chapter 3: Research methodology

Chapter 3: Research methodology

3.1 Research design

3.1.1 Case study as research strategy

The research strategy used here is case study. According to Yin (1981) a case study is
an empirical inquiry that:

♦ investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when


♦ the boundaries between the phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and
in which
♦ multiple sources of evidence are used (Yin, 1981 cited in Yin, 1984)

The development of agroforestry or livelihoods is a contemporary phenomenon


within the social and natural context of a rural and upland area. These farming
systems or livelihoods development are subject to many and various influences (e.g.
government policy on use of sloping land, availability of household labour, market
factors for various agricultural products) (Woods, 2001). The boundaries between
management of an agroforestry plot and the other components of the household
livelihood system are difficult to distinguish, in that farmers may simply see it as a
part of the total ‘bundle of resources’ available to the household (Croswaithe, 1997
cited in Woods, 2001).

The use of multiple sources of evidence, (e.g. direct observation, semi-structured


interviewing, secondary information), is valuable for researching household
livelihood systems that are complex and dynamic (Woods, 2001). The research was
designed to benefit from multiple methods of data collection and of analysis,
involving both qualitative surveys and qualitative research design (Table 3.1). Case
studies are multi-perspectival analyses (Tellis, 1997). This means that the researcher
considers not just the voice and perspective of the actors, but also of the relevant
groups of actors and the interaction between them (Tellis, 1997).

3.1.2 Field research design and Site selection

One project of Tropenbos-Vietnam is to develop integrated forestry and agroforestry


management systems for the buffer-zone of BMNP. The systems are being designed
for environment protection and income generation of the farmers in the 3 selected
villages.

The field research was developed in three periods. In first period, a rapid survey of
few days was made to visit the Tropenbos’ projects area to get the general situation
of the 3 villages targeted. And after discussion with the park staff, project partners
and researchers in Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry (HUAF), the village of
Ha An was selected to be the study site. The second period, a general socio-economic
assessment was carried out to get a understanding of the background and context of

13
Chapter 3: Research methodology

the village, to get familiar with local conditions and build up relationship with local
people, and to develop sampling plan and adapt research methods. The third period,
the main part of the field research continued with in-depth household interviews to
get detailed information issues of the study. Prior to, during and after the field
research in the buffer zone village of BMNP, a number of researchers, district and
commune staff, development workers and NGOs in Thua Thien Hue province, Ha
Noi and relevant places were contacted for discussion and consultations on the
research subject.

Among 3 villages, why was Ha An chosen to study? There are a number of reasons:

- Ha An has the farming systems (home garden and hill garden) developing
better than the other two villages.
- The commune Huong Phu, to which Ha An village belong, was about to
finish the nation-wide Program for the most Difficult and Remote Communes
(PR-135) at the time of the research

The fieldwork therefore was to explore and analyse the situation of livelihoods, AF
and land use systems, the benefits, the constraining and enabling factors in this
village and develop further implication for AF system in BMNP or other places. The
village has a relatively better-off situation where people are not continuing the
dependence on and the over-exploitation of natural resource. Its problems in the past
are quite similar to those which happened and are happening to many communities
in Vietnam, its problems at the present and in the future are probably reflecting the
same situation for many places to experience on the way to develop sustainable
livelihood strategies.

3.1.3 Sampling

After selecting the site, I traveled around the farms, the village and talked with key
informants – who are the elder and well-respected villagers and extension officers.
Based on their suggestions and my observation on the historical context and level of
farming development and livelihoods diversification, I divided the farmers into 3
groups:

(1) elder group: villagers with the household head is older than 50 who have the
longest history of gardening;

(2) middle-aged group: those with the household head is from 40-50 year old
who are investing intensively in home garden, hill garden and forest garden:
and

(3) young groups: those with the household head less than 39 who are starting
their household livelihoods in non-farm activities and agriculture.

From the list of farmers in three groups, the interviewees were selected through
consultation with key informants and a local guide. Households were selected for in-
depth interviews by excluding villagers who are mostly salary-based, and the
number of the middle-aged interviewed households are purposely increased because
this group follows the most garden-based livelihoods. These farmers were personally

14
Chapter 3: Research methodology

interviewed, and the results were crosschecked through informal discussion with the
village head, the key informants and the women and youths in village head’s family.
In total, in-depth household interviews were carried out with 7 households in elder
group, 11 households in middle-aged one, and 5 households in young one.

3.2 Research units


Units of analysis are:
- The village
- Households
- Livelihoods
- AF systems and AF products
- Institutions: policies, projects, programs and organizations

3.3 Techniques used for data collection


The study employs both qualitative and quantitative research design, in which a
combination of secondary data and an wide range of primary data collection
methods, from observation to group discussions (Table 3.1).

3.3.1 Secondary data

Secondary data necessary for the study was obtained from different sources:

- International NGOs and project documents at local, national and international


level
- Bach Ma National park, HUAF and other academic institutions in Hue and
Vietnam.
- Local government reports and statistic data from: The Department of Agriculture
and Rural Development and the Statistical Bureau of Nam Dong district, Huong
Phu commune.
- a number of researchers, development workers and NGOs were contacted for
discussion and consultations on the research subject (Appendix 7).

There are a number of project documents and research papers on the nature
conservation and rural development in Bach Ma national park and the surrounding
districts. Students and researchers in HUAF usually go to the village of Ha An and
the surrounding to carry out field work and practice participatory research tools,
which I could take advantages of the information collected, such as sketch map,
SWOT analysis, Venn institutional diagram, etc. Besides, the local authorities, who
run a lot of projects on poverty alleviation and agriculture development recently,
keep a good record of socio-economic data and open to share information. These
secondary data are the good complementary and comparative source of information
for this study to build on.

15
Chapter 3: Research methodology

Table 3.1 Research methodological framework


Methods of data
Research objectives Respondents
collection
1. to describe background District and
and contexts of the Secondary information/ commune officers/
study site, and the Observation/ Life key informants/
current socio-economic- history/ Informal researchers and
ecological situation of interview development
the village workers
Secondary information/
2. to describe household Direct and participant - Farmers/
livelihood assets, observation/ informal Commune officers/
activities and strategies interview and semi- key informants
structured Interview
3. to analyse the
development of AF Observation/ informal
systems and AF interview/ Semi- Farmers/ key
products, and why and structured Interview/ informants/ traders
how farmers plant Group discussion
trees.
Farmers/ key
Secondary information/
informants/ local
4. to analyse the role of Participant-observation/
groups and
institutions in Informal and Semi-
organizations,
promoting AF and structured Interview/ Life
NGOs/ researchers
sustainable livelihoods histories/ Group
and development
discussions
workers
5. to give Key informants/
Secondary information/
recommendations for researchers and
informal and semi-
promoting AF as a development
structured interview
sustainable livelihoods workers

3.3.2 Primary data

Observation

Participant observation is the integral part of this research. Living with local villagers
give me the fullest chances to participate daily activities and to get insight of their
history, culture and socio-economic situation.

The 7 week stay in the village created a lot of opportunities for me to observe and
join many informal discussions of villagers, women groups about their daily lives,
the events happening in the village and the activities of different projects which were
happening. I stayed in the village head’s house, who is respected and receives
regular visits from villagers and institutions. The people often went to the house for
chatting about and the interactions with members of the family, from the grand
mother to the small school children offered good observations to me. The
information was cross-checked with different viewpoints from male, female, young

16
Chapter 3: Research methodology

and old villagers, not biased and influenced by the political power of the village head
position.

Interviews

Informal, semi-structured and structured interviews were used to get quantitative


and qualitative information. Informal interviews with multiple-visits were made
with several key informants, at the beginning of the research to get general socio-
economic profile of the study site and throughout the households surveys to cross-
check and get in-depth understanding of the situation. The quantitative data on the
livelihood diversification was gathered by structured interviews.

Most of household interviews were made during evenings, when farmers return
home after the whole day working in farms. The questionaire was pre-tested in one
week with 6 farmers and adjusted to make the final version. Interview questions
were based on the checklist of livelihoods systems, farming practices, market and
institutions topics. Some questions adapted from several researches in agroforestry
in Vietnam (Appendix I).

Group discussion

There are a number of group discussions made to collect information on perceptions


of villagers about AF development and the institutions, projects and programs.
During my field research, there were starting activities of two projects facilitated by
HUAF, the AF Tropenbos-Queensland university and the medicinal plants NTFP-
IUCN. I participated in all group discusions and farm walks, and helped to
organized one meeting to find out villagers’ preferences for planting tree and
technical support.

Life Histories

To find out and understand the changes in trees plantation, in assets and livelihoods
activities and processes in the history of Ha An village started from 1975, the
research employed life histories method. Life histories focusing upon critical life
experiences of the individuals’ concerned (Long, 1989). The tool is not simply about
some events in the timeline: but about the context of the event, the way people
interacted. Interviewees compare between periods, then between themselves and
their neighbors. Throughout data collection and analysis, a lot of attention was paid
to the changes in tree plantation due to the influence of institutions.

I myself found life histories very interesting tool to track all changes, events in the
life, history of the village and individuals. Questions to ask were: when and from
where they came to the place, how they earn a living since then, and how the life
changed through different times? Key informants and households were often very
enthusiastic to talk about their stories, all the hardness and special events they
experienced, and I could find out other necessary information without asking very
formal, structured questions.

17
Chapter 3: Research methodology

3.4. Data analysis


Analyses of both qualitative and quantitative data are developed in the following
sections of the thesis, in which the qualitative takes more volume as major of the data
collected. The quantitative data collected are analysed by Microsoft Excel to calculate
percentages and elaborate cross table.

18
Chapter 4. The study area

Chapter 4. The study area: History and Characteristics,


Development and Conservation

When we talk about upland, we think of backward, isolated, poor place. When we talk
about a buffer zone are, we think about the rich and special natural resources and
very poor people nearby. I don’t know since when, this impression become very
popular.

“Poverty, population growth, environmental degradation, social marginalisation and


economic dependency are now interacting to place constraints on the development of
the uplands of Vietnam” (Le Trong Cuc, 2003)

To understand the context and background where the village were developed and
where the households have lived and made their livelihoods decision, this chapter
gives a description of the research area’s characteristics. The beginning of the chapter
will be an introduction and discussion about the study area in the context of the
upland district and buffer zone commune, and then focus on the historical
background of the village. After are findings of the agroecological and socio-
economics characteristics of the study site. Objective (1) is reached in this chapter,
data were collected through literature review, informal interviews and observation.
Part of the chapter also describes how the village has changed under influences from
a number of policies, strategies, and programs.

Throughout this chapter, the findings about study site will be analyzed in the picture
of the buffer zone commune and upland district, in order to illustrate the context and
the background of the village.

The village of Ha An dated its history back to 1975-1976 when the large-scale
organized migration programme moved thousands of low-land people to upland
New Economic Zones in the central. The place is home to very rich biodiversity. In
comparison to other mountainous regions of, the district has good physical
conditions. Most of these people live from agriculture, with rice and cassava the
main products. However, villagers experienced many macro and micro changes and
the village did not have its official name “Ha An” until the year 1997.

4.1 General description of the study area


Ha An is one of the eight (8) villages belonging to Huong Phu commune, and one
among sixty six (66) villages belonging to Nam Dong district in the province of Thua
Thien Hue, central Vietnam. The top-down administrative map of Vietnam is to
include: the central government, the province (tinh), the district (huyen) and the
commune (xa). In each commune, there are several villages (thon) Therefore, this part
will look at thon Ha An in the context of one upland district and of one buffer zone
commune.

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Chapter 4. The study area

4.1.1 In the context of Nam Dong – an upland district

Located in the northern part of Central Vietnam, Nam Dong is a mountainous


district with a rough system of transportation, complicated hilly terrain cross-cut by
several rivers and streams. The district population is 22,082 people with the average
density rate of 33.95 people living in 1 square kilometer (Nam Dong Statistical Office,
2003). The district includes 11 communes and a township.

Photo 4.1: The mountainous district Nam Dong with forest, fallow land and agricultural
surfaces (Source: Wetterwald, 2003)

The local population faces difficulties in economic activities and the annual income
per capita is around VND 2.621.000 (approximately US$160-170) while the national
average per capita GDP is roughly US$470 (Nam Dong SO, 2004; UNDP, 2003). Most
of these people live from agriculture, with rice and cassava the main products, while
paddy land is limited, population is increasing and unemployment is high (Gilmour
and Nguyen Van San, 1999). 40% of the district inhabitants are Katu ethnic minority
people who have already dwelt in the highlands for a long time. The others are Kinh
people (the ethnic Vietnamese majority) most of them moved from the lowlands to
begin their settlements in Nam Dong when new economic zones were set up after the
day of liberation in 1975 (WWF, 1997). The general education level is low.

Similar to many other upland places in Vietnam, Nam Dong is facing with the
vicious cycle of poverty-resource degradation. Mountainous areas are characterized
by a very complicated topography with a large portion of steep slopes and easily
erodible soils once covered by rich tropical forests, and by a very poor,
disadvantageous population. High transaction costs, insufficient production facilities
and the inability to access social services, natural disasters, low crop productivity,

20
Chapter 4. The study area

food shortage and the likes are popular (IIRRP, 1997). Historically, just as several
other places in Vietnam, Nam Dong District suffered thousands of tons of bombs and
toxic chemicals poured by the American armed forces, and the war consequences are
still seriously affecting human and environmental health.

Box 4.1: Poverty and Disadvantaged communes

...Poverty is concentrated in remote, isolated and mountainous areas


Poverty has marked regional characteristics. The poverty rate is relatively high in the
upland, remote and isolated areas and ethnic minority areas. As many as 64 percent of
the poor live in the Northern mountainous region, North Central region, Central
Highlands, and Central coastal region. These areas are characterized by difficult living
conditions, geographical isolation, very limited access to productive resources and
services, underdeveloped infrastructure, harsh natural conditions and high frequency of
natural disasters.

... Poverty is concentrated in areas with unfavorable conditions for making a living
A majority of the poor live in areas that have very poor natural resources and harsh
natural conditions such as mountainous, remote and isolated areas, or in the Mekong
River Delta region and the Central region where sudden weather changes (typhoons,
floods, drought) make conditions for living and producing even more difficult. In
particular, the underdeveloped infrastructure of poor regions causes the gap between
them and other regions in the country to widen. In the year 2000, the status of
infrastructure of 1,870 especially disadvantaged communes is as follows: 20-30% of
them do not yet have roads leading to commune centers; 40% do not yet have enough
classrooms; 5% do not yet have health stations; 55% do not yet have access to safe water;
40% of them do not yet have electricity lines to commune centers, 50% do not yet have
enough small-scale irrigation works; and 20% of them do not yet have markets at the
commune or commune cluster level.

Vietnam (2002). Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy. Approved by the
Prime Minister at Document No. 2685/VPCP-QHQT, dated 21st May 2002.

There are two political and socio-economic centers in central Vietnam: Hue and Da
Nang city. The administrative and historical, cultural values of the old citadel city
with UNESCO recognition and the fast economic growth and urbanisation of Da
Nang offer good advantages for the rural, mountainous areas to develop. However,
many of these potentials are untapped and the average income of central people
remains low compare to the national income. In the “Poverty Mapping and Market
Access in Vietnam” carried out by International Food Policy Research Institute
(USA), Institute for Development Studies (UK) and Inter-Ministerial Poverty
Mapping Task Force in 2003, Nam Dong is one of the poorest place in central
Vietnam. Despite remarkable achievements in the process escaping out of poverty of
the whole nation in recent decades, income disparities between urban and rural
populations are widening. Poverty is lower and the reduction has been much greater
in urban areas than in rural areas, and in lowland rural areas then upland rural areas
(Kerridge and Peters, 2002).

Poverty is fundamentally a rural problem in Vietnam, with over 90 percent of the


poor living in rural areas and with incidence of poverty being much higher in rural
areas (45 percent) than in urban ones (10-15 percent) (Vietnam, 2002). Over 80% of
the poor are farmers with low professional and business skills, and poor access to
productive resources (capital, know-how, technology, etc.) (Vietnam, 2002). Much of
the deepest remaining poverty is concentrated in the Northern Uplands, the Central

21
Chapter 4. The study area

Highlands, and the North Central Coast1 (Nam Dong belongs to this region, Figure
4.1), located in inaccessible areas with unfavorable conditions for making a living
(World Bank, 2004; Vietnam, 2002). Huong Phu and a number of communes in Nam
Dong belong to the national list of 1,870 especially disadvantaged communes, which
account for 18% of all communes in Vietnam, whose total population amounts to 7
millions (Ikemoto, 2001) (Box 4.1).

Recently, the general socio-economic picture of the province of Thua Thien Hue as
well as many other provinces in central region has been marked with many
improvements - notably in health, education, and basic infrastructure. As report 2
WWF pointed out, it is results of increased government spending, subsidies and
targeted development programmes (WWF2, 2003). The central government has
shifted from considering the uplands as economically poor and socially “backward”
to recognizing its important role in the country’s development (Binh TN, 1998).

Figure 4.1: Poverty map of Thua Thien Hue province

Development has brought about remarkable achievements in this region. However,


the ethnic and disadvantaged people have not adequately benefited from
development activities, especially those living in the mountainous and remote areas
as well as in very isolated high mountain areas. Unlike in the prosperous plain delta
areas, farmers in the uplands can not get a significant share of the economic
prosperity which reigns in parts of Vietnam (Zingerli, 2003; Heierli, 2003). Overall,
the main problems faced by these people are: (1) Poverty; (2) Environmental

1 Vietnam is commonly divided into seven regions. The Northern Uplands, Red River Delta, and the 

North Central Coast form what used to be North Vietnam; the Central Highlands, Central Coast, South 
East, and Mekong Delta comprise the South.

22
Chapter 4. The study area

degradation and forest losses; (3) High population growth rate; (4) Poor
infrastructure; (5) Low schooling level and high illiteracy; (6) The differences in
culture and language/dialect; (7) The differentiation between the rich and the poor;
(8) Insufficient management (WWF2, 2003). The integration of the uplands into
process of national modernization and industrialization is facing with many
dilemmas, economically, ecologically and socially.

4.1.2 In the context of Huong Phu commune – one buffer zone


commune

“Many buffer zone inhabitants are not indigenous to the area and have no
long-term relationship with the forests”
(Gilmour and Nguyen Van San, 1999)

Huong Phu is one among nine communes and one townlet in two districts of Nam
Dong and Phu Loc belonging to the buffer zone of Bach Ma National Park (Figure
1.1). The commune was just formed as a new economic zone after 1975. In Vietnam,
“Commune” is recognized as the smallest legal administrative unit. The “Buffer
zone” is an area surrounding a National Park/or nature conservation, which is just
delineated on the map (Le Tien Phong, 2004). It does not have a legal status or its
own administration (Box 4.2).

The buffer zone of BMNP is an area of 22,300 ha consisting of a mix of natural forests,
degraded forest, agricultural and residential land, and densely populated by some
65,000 people in 12,285 households (DED, 2003). Population density in the buffer
zone is high (158 inhabitants per km2) and is likely to increase within the near future.
The society is characterized by a high dependency upon agriculture and local
communities largely cultivate wet rice (Le Van Lan et al, 2002). Buffer zones fall
under the management of the local authorities and other economic units located in
the buffer zones (Gilmour, 1999) (Box 4.2).

Prior to 1975 – the human population of the areas surrounding BMNP was relatively
low. Since the time of new economic zones, however, a large number of migrants
from the lowlands who were not familiar with the environment come to make a
living. The area provides difficult conditions to achieve high agricultural output and
is blighted by natural disasters (Le Van Lan et al, 2002). The severe flood in late 1999,
for example, reduced the growth rate in the agricultural sector considerably to -3.9
percent in that year (Phu Loc Statistical Office, 2001 cited in Le Van Lan et al, 2002).
Consequently, without alternative economic incentives to agriculture, households
turned to exploit substantial quantity of wood and non-wood products for
subsistence and then, for cash income with the emergence of market economy. It was
estimated that the area of forest in Bach Ma had declined by about 30-40% since 1975
(Gilmour, 1999). The biodiversity value of plants and animals in both the National
Park and the buffer zones has declined significantly, in both quantity and quality
(Gilmour, 1999).

Bach Ma national park was created in 1991 with the aim to conserve the only green
transect left in Vietnam, stretching from the sea to the Viet-Lao border. The
establishment of the Park has shown a strong commitment towards environmental
protection in the region. The function of the buffer zone should be on one hand to

23
Chapter 4. The study area

ensure socio-economic development of the local population, and on the other hand to
protect the ecological integrity of the protected area and to expand the habitat for
wildlife. However, the demand for socio-economic development and better
livelihoods of the communities surrounding the Park still poses continued threats to
the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity in the buffer zone and in the
core zone (DED, 2003). Bach Ma is facing with problems of the rapid deforestation of
upland areas, the practice of unsustainable (and in general illegal) resource
exploitation, the chemicalization of agricultural areas caused by excessive use of
pesticides and herbicides in intensive monoculture rice production, and the impact
these developments have on the livelihoods of the rural poor (soil erosion, etc.) (Box
4.2).

Box 4.2: Functions of the buffer zone

The buffer zone has following functions:

- Ecological function: the buffer zone helps to expand habitats for wild creatures,
especially for those requiring large area for moving. The buffer zone also helps to
expand ecological conditions of the protection area.
- Socio-economic function: the people can use the buffer zone for their agriculture
production, their needs of wood, firewood and other products; this helps to reduce
local people’s pressures on the core zone.
- Protection function: the buffer zone makes a corridor to prevent possible outside
impacts on the core zone.

The buffer zone plays very important role in conservation at protection areas. However,
buffer zone planning is not properly done, just limited to administrative zoning. That is the
reason why in Vietnam, there are no special-used forest with a functional buffer zone.

The book “Management of Protection Areas in Tropical Region” by MacKinnon – Gland,


Switzerland (UNDP), 1986 identifies necessary conditions for buffer zone planning. These
conditions are rarely applied in Vietnam due to series of reasons: weak communication,
insufficient knowledge on requirements of a buffer zone, low effectiveness of the law and
shortage of resources. For instance, a new economic zone is established nearby the Bach Ma
National Park and thousands of people migrate to the buffer zone.
(Source: DED, 2002; DED, 2003)

Most local people see the park something imposed by government and which brings
them little if any benefit (Gilmour, 1999). Traditionally forest resources are/were free
and there are no quantitative limits on the amount taken away. Due to the
establishment of the Park the open access to forest (-products) was dramatically
reduced, affecting the livelihoods of the people seriously. No direct compensation
was foreseen to make up for the loss of income and/or food security (DED, 2003;
Gilmour, 1999; Deters et al, 2002).

Findings in 1999 from Gilmour and Nguyen Van San suggested that the dependency
on forests of buffer zone people although have decreased, but still remains high
(Table 4.1). In 2002, another study on buffer zone management and investment by
WWF found that the buffer zone population, 46% of which belongs to labour forces,
increases 1.90% annually. A high population with scarcity of land for agriculture
(0.056ha per capita) resulted in labour abundance. Most of the people leave for Da
Nang and Ho Chi Minh cities for employment, the rest (35% of the population) go to
the forest for forest product to sell (WWF-SPAM, 2002).

24
Chapter 4. The study area

Table 4.1: Percent of the population of selected communes who derive a major part
of their income from forest product collection and sale
(Source: Gilmour and Nguyen Van San, 1999)
Percentage of population
Commune
Before establishment of the Park Current
Loc Tri (Phu Loc District) 30 10
Xuan Loc (Phu Loc district) 75 65
Thuong Loc (Nam Dong District) 90 50
Huong Phu (Nam Dong District) 100 15-20

There is still considerable confusion about many aspects of buffer zone management
and linkages between conservation and development interventions. “Law
enforcement has not significantly curtailed harvesting from the forest in both the
buffer and the Park” (Gilmour, 1999). District and commune officials recognise the
importance of buffer zones managed to reduce the pressure on the resources in the
park. However, the primary objective of these officials is to improve the socio-
economic condition of the people in their areas of jurisdiction (Gilmour, 1999). In the
setting of low-income nations like Vietnam, field practitioners usually face with the
inevitable trade-off between strengthening environmental protection and the need
for socio-economic development (Deters et al, 2002). At the same time, a major
challenge for the protected area authorities is to shift from a predominantly
protective conservation policy towards encouraging sustainable systems for
production of livelihood benefits for the local population (Gilmour, 1999; Deters et al,
2002).

Recent years, most of communes located around natural protected areas have been
offered priority by the State for investing in projects with various objectives (poverty
alleviation, sedentary farming and settlement programme, program 135, rural fresh
water supply, family planning, etc. (DED, 2002; DED, 2003). All projects were aimed
to develop socio-economics for communes locating around buffer zones and most of
them had positive impacts to the management of natural protected areas. The living
standards in the buffer zone have been stabilized and partly improved (WWF-SPAM,
2002; WWF2, 2003). However, the integration of those projects rested with district
People's Committees, and the role of "special coordination" of natural protected
area's management board during the project implementation was dim (WWF2, 2003;
DED, 2002). The buffer zone management is still facing a lot of difficulties and
challenges, requiring a series of integrated solutions on legal, economic, technical,
social or educational interventions. This demands a joint cooperation of all
stakeholders at different levels in a continuous and long-term base (WWF-SPAM,
2002).

4.2 History of Ha An village


The name Ha An has a historical meaning. It is originated from the two names “Vinh
Ha” and “Vinh An” – where most of villagers came from before their settlement in
this place.

25
Chapter 4. The study area

Box 4.3: Major events in history of Ha An village

- 1975 and early 1980s: Migration of 232 households to this NEZ. After 9 months
of food aid from the government, they faced hunger and very hard-working
situation.
- Early 1980s: 70-80% of the former 2 cooperatives returned home or move to
other places. In 1979, merged into cooperative no 4, village 2. In 1982, some
new households migrated with the introduction of Truong Son craft-making
cooperatives.
- 1986: Doi Moi reform. Cooperatives were collapsed, replaced by household-
based economy. Land was distributed to rural households.
- 1986 – 1996: reforestation programs: PAM and PR-327.
- 1996: the emergence of fruit trees- based economy. Most of villagers planted
fruit trees in home garden, mixed fruit trees and industrial trees with food
crops in hilly farms.
- 1997: the management board of Ha An was introduced.
- 1999: the big flood destroyed some gardens and farms in the village.
- 2000 till now: infrastructure development: Road, electricity, telephone. Market
integration. Lives improved, economically and socially.
- From 2001-2: villagers started to sell acacia and rubber raisin. Price of fruits
fluctuates. Villagers started to receive Red Book certificate for forestland
ownerships.

The village’s history started in 1975 and it has passed through several major political,
socio-economic events up to now (Box 4.3). In which, there are 3 main periods: (1) the
migration and cooperative period from 1975 to 1986; (2) the “Doi Moi” reform period
from 1986; and (3) Driving out of poverty: An emergence of fruit trees – based
livelihoods from 1996 until now.

4.2.1 The Migration and Cooperative period in New Economic Zones:


1975 – 1986

...”When the war was over, almost everything was destroyed in my home
village. Then I decided to move my wife and children to this place, joining the
New Economic Zones program of the government. We lived and worked in a
production cooperative, clearing the forest and planting food crops. It was
extremely hard for many years. We were hungry, many people could not
stand and they left or moved to the south. We were not familiar to upland
conditions and suffered from malaria...”

...”I was small at that time. Life was very hard and we got food aid for less
than one year. My brothers and I stopped studying and helped parents with
everything to get food. I gradually get to know the forests around...”
(Interview with local people, 2004)

After a long history under devastation of wars, especially with the recent American
war, the economy of Vietnam developed poorly from a zero-level of livelihood
capital or assets. In an attempt to provide better opportunities for the inhabitants in
the lowlands and deltas, the Vietnam Government initiated the New Economic

26
Chapter 4. The study area

Zones (NEZ) programme in the mid 1980’s. This moved a large-scale population to
rural and upland areas.

In total, there were 232 households from lowland, rural districts of Thua Thien Hue,
particularly from the villages of
Vinh Ha, Vinh An and Vinh Giang Box 4.4: Shifting cultivation: A clarification
exploring this new land in 19752. on Pioneering agriculture
Most of them weren’t familiar with
Rotational swiddening (or rotational shifting
upland farming or forest situation.
cultivation) is fundamentally different from the
Among immigrants, several people practice of cutting down and burning the forest to
used to work as soldiers for cultivate the land permanently, usually by plowing
American side and they joined new it. These "permanent" cultivators, usually
economic programme for restart a pioneering peasants or recent settlers do not really
new life. practice swidden agriculture; they just make use of
slash-and-burn land-clearing techniques to
At the beginning, the immigrants transform forest into field.
were organized in two agriculture
When applied to certain types of forest
cooperatives Vinh Ha and Vinh An,
environment, particularly in mountainous terrain,
working to clear the forests for
this practice often leads to a gradual and at times
residential and agriculture land, and rapid deterioration (over a period as short as 2-3
plant food crops both for the daily years) of the soil cover and to a decrease in its
need of the whole family and for the fertility. This then leads the pioneering peasants to
responsibility to the cooperative. abandon the land, leaving it barren, and to clear
The government sponsored housing, additional land at the expense of the forest. The
basic physical and social expression "pioneering shifting cultivation,"
infrastructure and provided food aid generally used to designate this technique of
for the first 9 months3. When this aid agricultural expansion, is quite inadequate because
the actual process is not one based on shifting
period was over, they faced with
cultivation: the cultivated fields are not meant to be
serous hunger and very harsh
rotated, rather they are just used intensively and
working situation a new, different excessively cropped and, shortly thereafter,
agro-ecological context. Unfamiliar discarded. This practice is usually carried out by
with upland farming systems, lack pioneering peasants from the lowlands, who are
of physical and social infrastructure, generally quite poor but whose number has
poor health and food insecurity increased over the last decades throughout
pushed people to leave these Southeast Asia, notably in Vietnam. These colonists
resettlement areas (Anh, DN 2003). become both the tools and the beneficiaries (as
More than 70% of the immigrants to limited as the ensuing benefits may be) of
agricultural expansion, regardless of whether it is
this NEZ was reported to move
officially condoned, or even sponsored, by the
southward or to return home in
state. This form of pioneering agriculture, wrongly
1977-1980. Later, the two called swidden agriculture, is occasionally
cooperatives joined into one. practiced by members of minority ethnic groups,
particularly the Hmong, who do push back the
People had to do collective work in forest, at times for their own ends but, increasingly,
the forests and got paid in products. as territorial spearheads of the advancing Kinh
The main food source from the self- pioneers."
sufficient economy was cassava, (Source: De Konink, 1999)

2
Beside the establishment of NEZs, there is also Sedentary Farming and Settlement Programme (SFS)
to get ethnic minority people to settle permanently and to practice sedentary farming. Later, in Huong
Phu commune, nine Katu families came to settle in village Phu Mau in accordance with PR-327 in
1990s.
3
Different villagers told that the food-aid period lasted 6 months, 8 months or one year.

27
Chapter 4. The study area

which was produced in mountains that just had been reclaimed. In the beginning,
still keeping the customs of farming in water rice fields in lowlands and not
accustomed with slop cultivating, the life of residents was mainly “Dawn in forest
and dusk in market” (WWF, 1997).

The period from 1975 to 1985 is an extremely difficult time in the history of Ha An.
People didn’t get enough food for the family but had to contribute to the cooperative
while the production wasn’t good with low productivity and farming difficulties.
Every household got land, cultivated crops and exchanged inputs/outputs under the
ownerships, instructions and work organization of the cooperatives. Mixing lowland
agriculture practice with shifting cultivation, they cleared the forest to plant upland
crops (cassava was the main food) in the hills and wet rice in the small valleys and
alluvial areas alongside springs (Bui Dung The, 2001). While traditional rotational
shifting cultivation practice and the forest-dependency of ethnic minority and
indigenous people in the uplands has prove to be sustainable for the past several
hundreds of years, however, population pressure and the pioneering shifting
cultivation with slash-and-burn land-clearing technique of lowland inhabitants
caused serious soil erosion and detrimental damage to forests and the environment
(Le Trong Cuc, 2003; De Konink, 1999) (Box 4.4).

There were accumulating bad experience with cooperative mechanism: everything


was cooperative’s property, working hard while receiving the same “piece of cake”,
and “buying inputs at the price of hard monopolistic competition while selling
outputs at the price of giving” (mua nhu cuop, ban nho cho) in a planning economy.
Low incentives and stagnated cooperative-based economy resulted in low
motivation to word hard in groups and other opportunistic, rent-seeking behaviors.
Because of underfeeding and famine, the “new local people” went to the forests for
food.

Most of people derived their subsistence, food, fuel, building materials and other
basic needs from agriculture and the gathering of forest products and hunting of
wild animals. Just recovered from the war, the “open access” forest and natural
resources continued to suffer from a new wave of forest exploitation.

In 1982, one craft-making cooperative named Truong Son set up right in the village,
making use of the rattan and bamboo resources from the forests. There were several
new households from the lowlands moving here to work full-time in this
cooperative. It was the only craft-making cooperative of the whole commune, and
provided a large number of small cash-earning contracts to the existing households.

Early 1980s, after many trials and errors with nationalization and collectivization
systems still resulting in serious food-shortages and economy stagnation in the
whole nations, the government of Vietnam made some flexible movements toward
household-based economy. Several “household contracts”, land production and
management mechanisms were put into experiments, such as: the farmers were
allowed to benefit more from their own harvest products and have more choices to
select crops. In Ha An village at that moment, there was a few farmers tried short-
cycle fruit trees like lemon and banana in their home gardens.

28
Chapter 4. The study area

4.2.2 The Doi Moi period from 1986

“The life only started to be better when the Party Secretary Nguyen Van
Linh implemented Doi Moi. My familly got the right to use the land at our
own decision. We had more food, some fruits and could sell in market now”.

“The district road passing our village became very crowded in late 1980s
with timber and NTFP products selling along the road. Trucks from the
lowlands came here everyday to pick up forest products”.
(Interview with local people, 2004)

Since 1986 Vietnam has been promoting a process of institutional reform known as
Doi Moi, which, at its simplest, involves a transition from centrally planning to a
market-based “multi-sectoral” economy, in which sectors like household enterprise
or private business are allowed to operate as autonomous entities (Hainsworth,
1999). Rural lives have changed rapidly when the cooperative system fell down,
giving the floor for the household-based economy. In the study site, both agriculture
and craft-making cooperatives shut down right in 1986-1987.

The overall reform effect to the farmer is that he is now working for himself, and not
for the cooperative. He was able to put more effort on his own farmland, and free to
plant new crops and diversify cultivation. And during early 1990s, realizing the
productivity of fruit trees which has been tried by some villagers, more farmers
started to planted banana, citrus trees in home gardens. They had tree nurseries from
neighbors at very low price or as a gift.

Several industrial trees like coffee, pepper, and tea were also put into experiments.
However, the success of these initial reforms were still hampered by the fact that
land use and crop choice were still being done by the State Planning Commission in
the traditional top-down approach, without considering farmer preferences and local
market conditions (DED, 2002). Villagers planted and then cut down several cash
plants, such as pineapple, tea, ginger.

The majority of villagers still heavily depended on food crops and forest products.
Because of the high population growth rate, the availability of arable land per capita
is decreasing. Food shortage, the natural consequence of low productivity drove the
farmers to continue with extractive livelihood activities in the forests (IIRRP, 1997).
The newly developed market economy opened the door for increased trade of timber
and non-timber products. And from late 1980s till mid-1990s, some farmers exploited
the forests for both food and cash.

Villagers remembered very clearly about this time, when a lot of forest products
loaded along the district road along the village. There were 3 households in the
village becoming local middlemen to collect forest products. Most products were
sold at local markets or to traders from Hue city, who came to Nam Dong district
with tractors to collect the products. Animals were trapped, for domestic use ad for
sale to local restaurants (Gilmour, 1999). At the same time, villagers themselves
witnessed the accelerating decline of natural resource bases, as forests are cleared
and smaller, wild animal and big timber trees turned rare. Land fertility was very
poor while floods and as a result, soil erosion happened more frequently. Despite the
fatal impacts to be expected from the further deforestation, poor farmers, not only in

29
Chapter 4. The study area

this area but also in almost mountainous areas of Vietnam, continue to depend on
forests for their income and livelihoods (Hainsworth, 1999). A downward spiral was
inevitable: the rapid destruction of the forest resources resulted in water shortage,
soil erosion and an unfavorable micro-climate – the very condition that brought the
decrease in production which in turn resulted in food shortage and so forth. That
reflects the history of the Vietnam’s "barren" land from 3 million hectares in 1943
increasing to about 12 million hectares in 1995 or nearly 40 percent of the nation’s
land area (Vo Chi Trung, 1998).

Realizing the alarming loss of “golden forests” and the fragility of the uplands
environment, the government started to implement some national-wide afforestation
programs and natural resource management policies. There were PAM (Programme
Alimentaire Mondial - with support of United Nations’ World Food Program) and
the reforestation program PR-327, and later PR-661 (the Five million hectare
Programme). In Ha An and the buffer zone of Bach Ma, villager claimed degraded
hills, open areas covered with shrubs and grass to grow wood-oil tree (Aleurites
montana (Lour.) Wils), eucalyptus and acacia, with the main purposes to get rice and
money for the labor work. Most of people didn’t put efforts to the management of
plantation forests after that. Furthermore, the lack of land tenure security resulted in
inadequate farm level investments for maintaining long-term land productivity
(DED, 2003).

Especially, the closed forest policy with the establishment of rung cam (forbidden
forests) Bach Ma National Park in 1991 was a big challenge to the lives of buffer zone
communities. It was and continues to be a difficult problem for the government and
natural resource management authority to implement strict rule, without a view to
the dependency of local people on the natural resource base. Villagers faced another
difficult time in their history since the cultivated lands and forests exploitation was
limited (or banned) with the designation of the park. They have very limited choices
to generate income and therefore, continued to find many ways to go to forest as
illegal activities. And when big trees and animals become rare, local people switched
to NTFP, especially palm4, leaves and rattan. “The establishment of a management
presence on-the-ground with guard posts and regular patrols, appears to have
lessened, but not stopped, the rate of loss” (Gilmour, 1999).

However, a new change was beginning during 1990-1995 in this village, and not in
other buffer zone communes. Some farmers had main and stable incomes from
selling bananas, lemons and oranges. Learning from the successful neighbors, at least
40% home gardens were started to develop from 1990 on a village scale. People
shifted their attentions and efforts to home gardens with fruit tree planting.

4.2.3 Driving out of poverty: The emergence of (fruit tree) garden –


based livelihoods

“To be full, plant food crop. To be rich, plant industrial trees”(Muon no thi
trong mau. Muon giau thi trong cay cong nghiep)
“I just imitated (bat chuoc) other villagers to plant fruit trees”

4
In Vietnam, palm is material to make con, a popular type of hat. Con made in Hue is a special local
product and always have high demands.

30
Chapter 4. The study area

“Thanks to the flood in 1999, the government started to care and invest in
road, electricity, telephone for our place”
“I never imagine before that I could own a motorbike or have a color TV”
(Interview with local people, 2004)

Although the Park was set up in early 1990s, however most of villagers mentioned
about the year 1995-1996 as the enforcement time of “close forest policy”, giving an
end to the “open access” forest exploitation activities of villagers with an wide
implication. Natural forests are rarely accessed today due to difficulty of reaching the
distant forests in a rugged topography or at the top of the mountains, the limited
resources it has to offer, and the stringent government forest protection regulations,
and particularly in Ha An, because of the emergence of fruit tree – based economy.

In March 1997, the management board of the village thon Ha An was formally
introduced and in 2003 The Village Regulation (Huong uoc thon) was formulated.

Fruit trees started to grow and produced products for local people to harvest and sell
in the district market. A normal household could plant rice, cassava, corn and other
agricultural crops for providing food for the family and animals. Money from selling
fruits gradually became main source of incomes, which covers daily’s expenditure in
food, shelter, clothes and services. Toward the end of 1990s, every household
developed fruit trees in home gardens, and many started to plant perennial fruit
trees mixed with short-cycle agricultural crops in hilly gardens with proper care for
land conservation.

A big flood occurred in 1999 affecting badly the infrastructure and the economy of
Thua Thien Hue province, big rains causing floods in the lowlands and serious soil
erosion in the uplands. Trees and crops in hilly farms of Ha An were flowed away
and several home gardens in the lower land in the village disappeared in a big
stream in the flood. It was a shocked to many villagers.

This period was facilitated with


many infrastructure investments,
especially after the 1999 flood.
Government has spent a lot of
funding to make roads, bridges and
markets, establish electricity and
telephone systems, build irrigation,
schools and medical care centers in
Nam Dong. Huong Phu commune
received a lot of funding because it
is belong to PR- 135, which is the
programme on socio-economic
development for communes in
extreme difficulty in mountainous
and remote areas, one strong pro-
poor development efforts of Photo 4.2: Several home gardens disappeared after the 1999
Vietnamese government in recent flood. There is only stones left on a widen stream after all.
years. International NGOs began to
put efforts on rural development and nature conservation program in Huong Phu
commune and other communes in the district. The ongoing process of

31
Chapter 4. The study area

decentralisation, coupled with major policy developments in land and resource


management sectors, is altering the mechanisms through which rural people gain
access to key assets and services.

With these enabling factors, Ha An village is getting smooth access to market and
exchange, the transaction costs reducing substantially for the up-landers here. Such
as a small bridge has ease the transportation of local people to the main road at any
weather condition, or small roads help farmers to travel from home to scattered farm
plots quickly. Many villagers now have stable incomes, and can afford to buy
television, telephones and send children for higher education. Destructive and illegal
forest exploitation practices no longer exist. While at the same time, many villages
neighboring or in other buffer zones of the district still continue their dependency on
forests and get cash from selling illegal NTFP. Even farm size is larger, most of
gardens in other places were managed poorly, with less investment and low
productivity.

Tree cover has increased in Ha An and many boundaries of the Park after a variety of
extensive tree plantation programs (Appendix 2). In the last 3 years, farmers in Nam
Dong started to benefit from products of program PR-327, notably acacia and rubber.
The high profitability of acacia and rubber gives a high rise in income of tree-planters
and attracts many farmers to adopt agroforestry. When it comes to time of timber
trees, Ha An is facing with problems of lack of plantation forestland. Moreover,
prices for fruit and agriculture products fluctuate in a hard competition with
increasing supply from other regions.

Several decades in history of Ha An have witnessed many failures with different


crops, trees from development programs or plantation programs from the district,
commune and the park authority and also many trials and errors by the villagers
themselves. And now, all are seeking for seeds of developments from agriculture
crops – fruits trees – timber trees and other livelihoods for this upland, buffer zone.
To get out of poverty is one thing, to be rich is another thing.

4.3 The present picture of the study site: Ecological and socio-
economic characteristics

4.3.1 Ecological characteristic of Ha An village

This part will describe the natural capital of Ha An village. The following chapter
will discuss about the advantage and disadvantage of this capital to the livelihoods
of villagers.

Geography and Topography

Ha An locates in a complex topography comprising gentle slopes to undulating and


hilly terrains. It is surrounded by BMNP in the East, by two other villages Xuan Phu
and Da Phu in the North and West, and by Khe Tre town in the South. The
geographical location is:

32
Chapter 4. The study area

Photo 4.3: In the north – road and hills connect Ha


An village with Xuan Phu village in Huong Phu

 
Photo 4.4: In the East – hills, mountains and BMNP Photo 4.5: In the West – mild-sloping and flat terrains,
where most of villagers inhabit and home gardens

Photo 4.6: In the south - the road to Khe Tre town.


On the left of the photo is the hilly and sloping eastern part.
On the right if the flat western part

33
Chapter 4. The study area

- Latitude: from 16o10’25’’ to 16o14’30’’ North


- Longitude: from 107o40’00’’ to 107o49’00’’ East (HUAFa, 2003).

The village consists of 2 main parts: the eastern part is mountainous and hilly areas,
which is dissected by many streams. The slope is smaller westwards and the west of
the village includes mild-sloping hills and flatter areas for residence and home
gardens (Photo from 4.3 to 4.6). The average altitude is 400 masl (meters above sea
level), the minimum altitude is 120 masl and the maximum altitude is 1’400 masl
(HUAFb, 1998).

The average slope is 25o and the lowest slope is 5o (HUAFb, 1998). Most of the farms
have a mixture of flat terraces and mini-valley land, and villagers have to cross
several streams and hills to reach their own farms, especially in the eastern part
where most of farming plots locate.

Ha An’s residential houses are easy to access. The village is in the commune centre,
and right on the only way to district centre. It is in a distance of 3 km to the Khe Tre
town of Nam Dong and around 50 km to Hue city.

Climate

30
1400

25 1200
Temperature ( C)

20 1000
o

Rainfall (mm)

800
15
600
10
400

5
200

0 0
Nov.
Jan.

Jun.
Jul.
Feb.
Mar.
Apr.

Dec.
Aug.
Sep.
May

Oct.

Nov.
June
Jan.

July
Feb.
Mar.
Apr.

Dec.
Aug.
Sep.
May

Oct.

M onth Temperature
Average temperature

Figure 4..2: Temperature and rainfall in Nam Dong district


(Source: Nam Dong SO, 2003 – cited in Oliver, 2003)

The whole region of Nam Dong and Thua Thien Hue a tropical monsoon climate,
with two seasons in a year:

- The rainy season: Usually lasting from September to March, with the wet and
cold south-east winds. During this season, the rainfall is very high and
unevenly distributed with low temperatures and high humidity. Most of
storms in the year come in this season (Bui Dung The, 2001; Vu Van Dzung,
2002). Floods, soil erosion and landslides are big challenges to famers, and
they can hardly walk to their hilly farms during big rains.

34
Chapter 4. The study area

- The dry season: Usually from April to August, with the hot south-west wind.
During this season, the temperature increases with long lasting heat.
Droughts and forest fires threaten the people and the environment during
this season (Bui Dung The, 2001; Vu Van Dzung, 2002; Wetterwald, 2003).

The average annual temperature in Nam Dong is 24.6oC with a range between 40o C
(highest temperature, April 1996) and 8.7oC (lowest temperature, December 1999).
The average annual rainfall is 4’667 mm (Figure 4.2). It has to be mentioned that
there are big differences in the amount of rainfall due to the complex topography
with big differences in altitude (Wetterwald, 2003). Compare to other eco-regions in
Vietnam, Bach Ma has very high humidity and rainfall.

Land resources

Table 4.2: Land categories in Ha An (Source: Huong Phu commune, HUAFa, 2003)
Forestland
Agricultural Unused
Types of land Natural Plantation Total
land land
forest forest
Area (ha) 400 70 56.02 9.7 538.07
Percentage (%) 74.34 13.07 10.46 1.80 100%
Areas/per 5.71 1.0 0.80 0.14 7.65
household

The total land area of Ha An is 538,07 ha, in which agricultural land accounts for
only about 10.46%, natural and planted forests are 87,4% (Table 4.2). The main types
of soil are yellow ferralitte on granite rocks (N2VIFA), and ferralitte on alluvial soil
(D3/Fp). In using the land, farmers have classified the land into: heavy soil, sandy
soil mixed heavy soil, soil with stone and ferralitte soil. Ferralitte soil with a shallow
cultivable layer and poor water-holding capacity, dominates the hilly areas, being
eroded because of heavy rains and storm (Bui Dung The, 2001; WWF, 1997; HUAFa,
2003). On the western part of the village, alluvial soil (sandy soil mixed with heavy
soil) is found. It is rich in cultivated soil layer depth and nutritious (WWF, 1997;
HUAFa, 2003).

Water resources

There are two big streams with many small tributaries flowing in the land of the
village. However, the complex, dissecting topography of Ha An makes it difficult to
take full advantage of the water resources for domestic and farming irrigation
purposes, people only could manage to use for 2.25 rice fields and 0.17 ha ponds. In
addition, during rainy seasons with high rainfall the water flow of streams is very
strong and the slopes of the hills are so steep that erosion and floods are caused.
Travelling to hilly farms are dangerous and traffic was difficult when the road and
the bridge are not built. Furthermore, breeding diseases for animal as well as for
human beings occur. In contrast, during the dry season, the springs sometimes run
dry and villagers often suffers from water shortage (HUAFa, 2003; WWF, 1997).
Every household have to dig well to have more stable water source for domestic use
and irrigation for home garden, and it depends on household economy to have
electric water pump to reduce substantial manual work or not.

35
Chapter 4. The study area

Rainwater is the most important water source for upland crops such as upland rice,
cassava and fruit trees such as lemon and orange. Crop yields depend greatly on the
amount and timing of rain. Under the climatic conditions of the area, the farmers
have learnt through trial and error, which crops and trees are suitable to grow at
different times – they have developed a crop calendar so as to make good use of the
rainwater. However, things that many people recognize are the irregularity of water
resources in recent years (WWF, 1997). Socio-economic constraints as well as
unpredictable climatic conditions prevent the farmers from making sustainable use
of natural resources (Bui Dung The, 2001).

It is very difficult to upgrade the hydraulic systems in upland areas because of the
complicated topography, irregular water flow at different points in a year and no
capital to invest (WWF, 1997). For large areas of hilly farms, there are two irrigation
constructions being built in the last two years. The first one is only accessible to 3-4
farms, however the second one, which was built by experienced villagers making use
of gravity springs, could satisfactorily meet irrigation purposes.

Fauna and Flora

The Bach Ma area has long been known for its exceptional diversity of flora and
fauna (Birdlife, 2001). The park is located within the transition zone of northern
(Sino-Himalayan, Indo-Burmese) and southern (Malesian) floras and is regarded as
an important ‘Floristic Biodiversity Centre’ for Indochina (Tran Thien An & Ziegler,
2001). The dominant habitats are tropical evergreen monsoon forest in the lower
areas and subtropical evergreen monsoon forest at altitudes higher than 900m
(Gilmour, 1999).

The flora of Bach Ma includes at least 1,400 species. Of these, 86 species are listed as
endangered in the red data book of Vietnam. There are also over 500 species, which
could have a commercial value, including over 430 species of medicinal plants. This
represents around 19 percent of the entire flora of Vietnam in only 0.07 percent of
Vietnam’s total land area (Le Van Lan, 2002).

The fauna of Bach Ma National Park is considered to support half of all mammal
species known in Vietnam. 43 species of mammals were identified in the park and
further 76 species are listed as potential present, nine species of primates are
confirmed in Bach Ma, including loris, macaques, lingers, and the white-cheeked
gibbon. The elusive Sao la or spindle horn (Pseudonym nghetinhensis), which looks
like a deer, was only discovered in Vietnam in 1992 and is also resident in the
protected area. Large predators, such as tiger and leopard, may still remain in the
remote parts of the park. The 330 species of birds that have been observed in the
park represent over one-third of the species found in Vietnam. There are seven
species of pheasants, including the rare endemic Edward's pheasant (Lophura
edwardsi) (BachMa, 2000).

Most of the areas covered by the park were adversely affected by activities during
the war, in particular by chemical defoliants (Gilmour, 1999). However it was
estimated the area of forest in Bach Ma had declined by about 35% since 1975. Due
to unsustainable forest exploitation and over exploitation, the fauna and flora

36
Chapter 4. The study area

biodiversity of the park and the buffer zone has decreased dramatically during the
past few decades. After 1990, forests started to regenerated by several wide-scale
plantation programs (PAM and PR-327) in an effort to re-green the barren hills.

Most of natural forests in Ha An and Huong Phu have very poor quality, few big
timber tree left. Compared with natural forests, plantation forests have very much
lower level of diversity of animals and plants. The main trees are acacia (40,5 ha),
eucalyptus, rubber (11,86 ha) and wood-oil tree (Aleurites montana (Lour.) Wils),
bamboo and some common native trees, such as Tarrietia javannica Kost (huynh),
Litsea glutinosa (boi loi). In home garden and hilly farms, villagers plant a variety of
food crops, fruit trees and industrial plants, such as: corn, cassava, rice, beans,
vegetables, potatoes, citrus, bananas, ginger, pepper, coffee, betel-nut, pineapple...

4.3.2 Socio-economic characteristics of Ha An village

Table 4.3: General information of the district, the commune and Ha An village in
2003
(Source: Nam Dong SO, Huong Phu and Ha An data collection)
Nam
Huong Phu Ha An5
Dong
Population (persons) 22.082 2.907 350
Population growth (%) 1.3
No of households 4.195 564 70
No of female (people) 10,961 1403 168
(Percentage) (49.64%) (48.3%) (48.03%)
No of labors 10,862 1243 150
(Percentage) (49.19%) (42.76%) (42.86%)
Average people per
5.3 5.0 5.0
household
GDP per capita
2,621,000 2,660,000 3,000,000
(VND/person)
Economic growth rate
8,2 11.2
(%)
Poverty rate (%) 11.5 8.66
538.07 (6.8% of
Total Land (ha) 65,052 7,948
the commune)
Forestry land 41,799 5,072 470
Agricultural land 4,019 1,019 56.02
Unused land 18,757 1,769 9.7
Other types of land 476 88 2.35

5
The data in commune office and in village are different. For the purpose of my village case study, I
take the numbers from the village. Such as: 70 households, not 71.
6
According to one socio-economic survey in Ha An in 2001, there were 14 “self-perceived poor
households”, and 10 poor households according to general poverty standard. And in 2003 it reduced to
6 households. Checking with the officers in the village in 2004, there are 3-5 households already get
out of poverty. “Poor household” is defined as the situation of not having enough food and basic
furniture or affected by serious illness. Another study of HUAF student in 2003 found out that there
was no family in Ha An living below “poverty line”, applying Vietnamese government criteria for this
context: VND 5 million per household per year.

37
Chapter 4. The study area

Social

Population

After many changes in demography since 1975, there are today 70 households with
the population of 350 people living in the village of Ha An (Table 4.3). Everyone
belongs to King ethnic (the major ethnic group in Vietnam). The first generation of
Ha An inhabitants now become “local people” with the youngest age of 28-29 year
old. Until now, there are 168 female (48.3%) and 180 male (51.7%).

In the last 5 years, there is little change in the demography data of Ha An village
(Table 4.4). From secondary data and interviews, the village is implementing good
family planning and most of new households are young families who decide to live
independently from their parents7.

Table4.4: Demography change of Ha An village from 1999 until June, 2003


(Source: Data collection from Huong Phu commune office, HUAFa, 2003)
No Type of data 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
1 Population 336 339 343 347 355
2 No of households 66 67 68 68 70
3 No of people in- 1 2 2 1
migrate
4 No of people out- 1 3 2 7
migrate
5 No of children 2 3 4 4 2
born
6 No of deaths 1 2 2
7 Household size 5.09 5.05 5.04 5.1 5.07

Labor

From the data of June 2003, there are 149 people (41.9% of the total population) are
at the working age8, in which 79 are female (53.1%) and 70 are male (46.9%) (Huong
Phu commune office, HUAFa, 2003).

The distribution of working labor population is as follow:

- Agriculture production: 116 laborers, accounts for 77.8% of total laborers


- Services: 1, accounts for 21.5 %
- Other businesses: 32, accounts for 21,5%. They work in salary employment as
teachers, district and commune officers and carpenters, or small
saleman/woman, construction workers...

7
In Vietnam, the newly married couple usually stays with parents, especially in rural areas. After a few years,
when they have the first child or could earn a living independently, the parents of both spouses will support them
some separate land for shelter and farming. In some case, the new family could apply to get a small plot of land
from the communal land, which is often not in a good location.
8
The commune officer explained it is over the age of 16. Labor age is understood from 18 to 54 for 
female, from 15 to 59 for male, or from 16 to 59 for both sexes in Vietnam’s Labor Law. 

38
Chapter 4. The study area

Especially, there are 12 households in which there is 1-2 person(s) working full-time
and receiving stable salary. This salary job number of Ha An makes a relative rate
higher than that of other villages and communes (even only behind the town of Khe
Tre, as many people noted). Apart from a number of teachers/officers who migrated
for full-time employment in Nam Dong district, some positions are of the grown-up
children – new generation of Ha An village.

Education level

According to the secondary data in 2003, there are:

- 164 people at elementary-school-level (46.20%);


- 94 people at secondary-school-level (26.48%);
- 65 people at high-school-level (18.31% of the population);
- 2 people are university-students (0.56%)
- The rest is 28 people (7.88%), who are not at schooling age yet, or are disable,
not in good-health condition people

The relative drop-out rate is lower than other villages. Most of drop-out cases are
with high-school-level students, who stopped schooling and migrated to other
places to earn money. This phenomenon is very popular in Nam Dong, where
people are poor and children need to support family’s incomes. The survey did not
draw the exact data of drop-out rate, but got the comparable situations of the
village, the commune, and the district. Most people also mentioned Ha An devotes
more resource for education of children. It could be explained by the stable
household incomes and the farmers are confident to invest for children, as well as
the big number of teachers living in the village. The communal elementary school
locates right in Ha An.

With adults, most of them had very low education levels, and the female had higher
education than man in a household. During difficult time settling in the village in
the past, they had to quit studying and work. Also the school and service facilities in
1980s, 1990s were very poor in the uplands.

The current rate of children going to school at right age is 100%. In 2003 data from
village, there are: 17 kindergarten children, 48 elementary school children, 33
secondary, 14 high schools; and 10 graduate from high school, 2 from universities
and 5 from technical colleges. And there are 9 young villagers completed pedagogy
colleges and are teaching in Nam Dong district.

Economic

The economy situation of Nam Dong people has improved largely in the last 5 years.
In Ha An, in particular, the lives of villagers changed compared to 10 years ago.

Today, main land uses in Ha An village are fruit tree-based system, both in home
garden and hilly land; timber tree-based system (acacia, rubber, eucalyptus and mu-
oil tree); and wetland rice – based system. Most villagers have stable incomes from
well-developed fruit gardens, both in homeland and hilly land. Food crops and

39
Chapter 4. The study area

poultry are mainly to supply the food demand of households. Until recently, farmers
who joined and manage plantation forestlands of acacia and rubber have started to
earn a lot of cash from selling timber or rubber raisin. However, due to the small
areas of rubber plantation, Ha An doesn’t have a big change in economy, while in
other villages in Huong Phu commune and Nam Dong district, farmers get out of
poverty rapidly thanks to rubber products since 2002.

Table 4.5: Income source in Ha An in 2002, 2003


(Source: HUAFa, Huong Phu commune)
Income Average income
Income sources
(million VND) % per household
1 Food crops 49 6.81 0.7
Short-term agricultural
2 crop 61.1 8.61 0.88
3 Perennial agricultural crop 17.2 2.39 0.25
4 Fruit trees 176 24.47 2.52
5 Rubber 5.5 0.76 0.08
6 Cattle 63.9 8.88 0.91
7 Poultry 11.1 1.54 0.16
8 Fishery 5 0.7 0.07
9 Other incomes 329.7 45.83 4.71
TOTAL 719.3 100 10.28

To earn more, several households have different supplementary economic activities


of carpenter, small trader, and hired laborer. There are a number of people out-
migrating to find jobs for some months of the year or for long time in urban and
other prosperous rural areas. However, non-farm activities do not play an important
role in Ha An and other villages. Other characteristics of Ha An are a high
comparative rate of households who have member(s) working full-time and
receiving government-paid salary, and the low rate of forest-exploitation livelihoods.
Villagers collect fuelwood mainly for domestic use. During everyday conversations, I
did hear once a story about one villager going to cut timber in forbidden areas. But
most local people and commune officers were confident about the very low level of
forest dependency of Ha An people, which are still serious problems of many
neighboring villages and buffer zones. And, at the same time of my survey, it was
found out by one student from International Institute for Geo-information Science
and Earth Observation, who was researching NTFP exploitation activities of buffer
zone people, that there are fewest cases of villagers in Ha An who collect palm,
rattan and other NTFPs to sell and earn cash as a substantial source of income. Ha
An people continue to collect fuelwood but mainly for domestic use (Tran Anh Tuan,
2004).

In the income structure of Ha An villagers, the category other income sources


accounts the biggest part of the cake: 45.83% (Figure 4.3). This mainly includes the
government salaries of 12 households, whose member(s) working in district,
commune office and schools. One part of that is money from hired labor, services,
small trade, and carpentry. Therefore, the majority of villagers depend on cash
income from planting perennial trees.

40
Chapter 4. The study area

Figure 4.3: Income sources in Ha An 2002-2003


(Source: Huong Phu commune data, HUAFa, 2003)

food crops short-term


7% agricultural crop
9%

perrenial
other incomes agricultural crop
45% 2%

fruit trees
24%

food crops
short-term agricultural crop
perrenial agricultural crop
fruit trees
rubber
fishery rubber
1% cattle
1% cattle poultry
9%
fishery
poultry
2% other incomes

The average income level in 2003, according to the village’s chairman, is VND
250,000 per month or VND 3,000,000 per year per capita. The annual economic
growth is stable, however, it is lower compared to the commune’s growth since 2002.
Presently, the commune’s agriculture-based economy depends on rubber tree
products, livestock and then gardening. Ha An is not strong in rubber cultivation
and harvesting, because Ha An has only 11,86 ha with 7 ha for harvesting, while the
rubber area are much larger in other villages with a total of 513,5ha in the whole
commune. Huong Phu’s average income in 2004 is estimated VND 3.5
milllion/capita/year increased from that of 2.6 in 2003, in which the rubber revenue
is approximately VND 3 billion, contributing 27,2% of the total commune income
(Huong Phu commune data, 2004).

Infrastructure

Ha An village locates on the only district road from the highland No. 49 from Hue to
Nam Dong, easy to access. With a lot of government funding for infrastructure in
rural, disadvantageous areas, the district road and village network of small roads are
being built and upgraded in good condition. The wooden bridge and concrete
pathways also help to connect farmers to hilly farm more easily during the dry and
rainy seasons. Some plans to construct a new bridge and make a small road to hill
farms were laid out for the coming years.

Local people and government staff in commune and district offices stressed on the
big improvement of the infrastructure of Nam Dong since 2000-2001. All commune
offices are connected today by asphalted roads. The road net in the district is about
22 km long and there are smaller road gravelled connecting the villages to the main

41
Chapter 4. The study area

road, which can take the loads of trucks and reach the villages during the rainy
season (Wetterwald, 2003).

There are two markets in the district: Khe Tre and Nam Dong market. The most
important market, where all Ha An villagers go to buy food and sell agricultural
products, is Khe Tre market located the district town. Villagers did not mention
much about their relation activities with the other market, whicht is located in the
North-West of the district area. Ha An is about 2km near Khe Tre town, so it is easy
to travel and reach all important institutions such as the market, schools, the hospital
(only 1 for the entire district) and other district offices situated in the town.

According to Nam Dong statistic, there were 596 telephones at the end of 2003 on the
entire district. Most telephones are located in Khe Tre town, due to the important
institutions. Also computers are only found in Khe Tre town at the district office and
at other organizations’ office (forest enterprises, extension center, rubber company).
Internet with ADSL connection has reached the upland district in some private
computers in the town. There are 21 telephones, one computer and 49 motorbikes
reported in the village of Ha An (Nam Dong SO, 2004).

All communal infrastructures located in Ha An as the communal central, which


include: one elementary school, one communal health care center and other on-going
communal building (the communal office and community learning center9). There is
a lack of meeting place for social activities of the village now, and villagers often go
to the house of the chairman for meeting.

Wells were found in most of villagers’ houses. However, irrigation is a concern for
farming systems. Farmers do not have enough water to serve the farming, especially
in the dry season. Thanks to the investment of government for PR-135, Ha An got
one irrigation built. But the result is very limited, only applying for a few number of
households on a small farming area. By the time of my research, farmers were
building another irrigation, taking account the gravity of natural streams and the
wider application for the whole hilly farms. They mentioned it could serve the
domestic use in the future as well.

9
It is the place for learning activities, workshops, trainings for local officers, people. However, from
my observation with the district Community learning center – there is little activities there at district
level. However in the village level, people in Ha An, especially from different mass organizations,
stressed the necessity of a village meeting place.

42
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies:


How Ha An people make a living?

“Those who are above 50 year old have developed garden very well and receiving
stable gardening income. Those who are 40-50 are at the best time to invest and
maximize the productivity of home and hill garden. Those who are young and just
started to live independently are putting their energy in hired labour and other non-
farm activities, accumulating capital in preparation for gardening in the future.”
(Interviews with key informants, 2004)

The previous chapter has introduced the context and history of Ha An village, where
people migrated since 1975. It has reflected the characteristics of one less-favored
area, by nature and by human. The main content of this chapter is how people use
their assets and make a living in that context.

After some description of households who were involved in in-depth interview for
livelihoods and institution analysis, the chapter will present the capital categories in
sustainable livelihood frameworks. The main part of Chapter 5 is to discuss
livelihoods activities (on-farm, off- and non-farm income sources) and livelihood
strategies (agriculture extensification/intensification, diversification and migration)
in the village. The objective (2) of the research is answered in this chapter.

The results and findings are from the field survey of the author in September-
October 2004, and supported by literature review on previous surveys in the study
site. Data analysis will be presented for the whole village and for the 3 interviewed
groups in each section.

5.1 Characteristics of interviewed households


Most of household interviewees were male, who are the husbands and the heads of
households. That reflects the typical living style of Vietnam rural areas where
husbands are usually the head of the household, taking care of meeting, participating
training and are the ones who make important decisions for the family (ICARD,
2003). The wife is only the head of household in some special cases like the husband
is sick or the family belongs to some certain minority ethnic group where the wife is
always the head of household. Here, the men are the ones who made decisions on
crops and trees selection.

There were 2 female interviewees during my household interviews, one was the wife
of the household head and the other is widowed. Most of female – household head
on the list of villagers are often widowed. The gardens they got comes from their
parents or the deceased husbands.

43
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

Table 5.1: Goods and services provided by Bach Ma National Park and the buffer
zone (Source: Adapted from ICEM, 2003)
Sectors Level Classification

Direct Use Values


Timber (production Forestry Local and Private good
forests) district
NTFPs Community issues Local Common pool resource
Tourism Tourism All levels Toll good
Provision of land for:
Electricity trans Energy National Public good to toll good
Irrigation reservoirs Agriculture District Public good to toll good
Roads Transport National Public good to toll good
Education, science Education, science Provincial Toll good

Indirect Use Values


Hydrological Services Agriculture District Upstream public good
Prevention of Downstream private good
sedimentation

Flood protection Public works Provincial Upstream public good


Downstream private good
Dry season flow Agriculture District Upstream public good
Downstream private good
Ground water Public works, Local to district Upstream public good
Water and Downstream private good
communities

Carbon sequestration Environment Global Public good

Option value and existence values


Protection of tigers and Environment Global Public good
other species of
international importance

Agrobiodiversity and Rural livelihoods Local to global Public good


option values

Value-added of Rural livelihoods Local to global Public good


biodiversity to locally-
made products1

1
I adapted the table and put this category to describe the missing link of biodiversity and trade. Market 
interest for biodiversity products and services is growing, giving biodiversity‐rich regions a 
comparative advantage. This benefit will be discussed more in the final chapter.

44
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

In most of interviews, both spouses participated in the questions or the husbands


asked their wives to help, especially questions about histories and markets. The
interviewees did not mention directly about who makes what decision, but more
about the tasks: the man for planting, ploughing and heavy manual work, while
women for livestocks, child and family care, selling agricultural products. There are
some farming task shared between both man and women, especially in the age of 35-
40 and during the high labour-demanded period, such as weeding, land clearing,
harvesting, planting, etc.

5.2 Livelihood capital and assets

5.2.1 Natural and physical capital

The previous chapter have described the agro-ecological characteristics of the study
site, and also the infrastructure and other physical capital, in which farmers have
equal access to the recent public investment in road, electricity, irrigation, etc. As
villagers participate in labour-intensive on-farm and low-skilled non-farm
production with simple production tools, in this section will discuss mainly about
land and natural assets with a view to its values to farmers’ livelihoods

Field studies by the Protected Areas Development review team (ICEM, 2003) on
economic values of protected areas in Thua Thien Hue province (Table 5.1) identified
the following goods and services provided by BMNP and: sectors that benefit from
goods and services provided by BMBP; the level at which each benefit is
appropriated (i.e. local, provincial, national, global); and classification of each of the
goods and services in terms of its public good characteristics (Appendix 3).

In my survey, when asking about the farmers’ perception of values of BMNP and the
buffer zone, most of them discussed about the indirect and direct good and services.
Local villagers showed a good level of awareness about the importance and benefits
of forests, especially to soil and water management. Through experience since 1975,
they realized the different levels of soil erosion under various trees and crops’ cover.
Understanding the plant diversity of the park, many villagers are interested in
planting marketable medicinal herbs and learning how to use for family’s health.

There is one waterfall in Xuan Phu, the neighboring village to Ha An and it has been
developed as a tourist site under management of Huong Phu commune. The tourism
development of the waterfall opens demand for services and jobs on the site during
summer. Especially, a communal plan for making a road to visit the farming areas on
hillsides of Ha An in the tourism development plan of the waterfall were laid out.
Not interested in the potential of the waterfall to their economy, but Ha An villagers
pay attention to the benefit of the road to hilly farms which eases their access and
transportation to the farm and to forestlands during any weather conditions (Photo
5.1).

Several disadvantages of living in a buffer zone are described, such as: the insects
and small animals from forests attacking the growth of flowers, fruits and poultry
production, or the seasonal big rains which easily cause floods. Villagers mentioned

45
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

these problems as difficulties in farming and causes to low productivity of hilly


farms compared to home gardens.

The viewpoints about the soil varied. Some farmers mentioned the soil quality in Ha
An is better than other villages and very suitable to fruit trees plantation. Others said
that the soil is not different to Nam Dong soil in general. Although most of them say
about good improvement of environment in general: past barren hills have been re-
greened with trees, increase in forests cover compared to the period of 1980s and the
seasonal big rains could affect less destructively now. But after a long history in Ha
An, people noted the soil quality is decreasing and need more investment of labor
and fertilizers.

Land

“There is a lack of arable land in the uplands but an abundance of forest land.”
(Kerridge and Peters, 2002)

“The biggest constraint in our village is land. Agricultural land is limited while
forestland belongs to rung cam Bach Ma National Park”
(Informal interviews with villagers)

Land is the most important production capital to farmers. In Vietnam, it is


considered to be the national assets, and the government manages and allocates land
to individuals, officers or economic organisations to use or to rent. Before 1986, land
is a cooperative’s asset, with a small portion allocated to households for residential
areas and home gardens. Since Doi Moi policy, especially with the 1993 Land Law,
land was allocated to households. The allocation process followed these steps: 5% of
the total land area in one village is preserved for communal, social welfare activities;
the remaining land will be allocated to farmers to use, with the area dependant on
the number of persons of each family (WWF, 1997). Therefore, the size of the
farmland was decided by the number of farm labourers and the land available of
each commune/village at the allocation time. Up to now, many villagers in Ha An
possess 2-4 plots of land in different locations. Land is small and fragmented due to
the natural hilly conditions and the historical effort to equitably distribute each
different quality land to every household.

There are different types of


land: home garden (the
land surrounds the farmers’
homesteads, most of
villagers have this types of
land) and hilly land, which
is categorized as
agricultural land and
forestland (forest garden).
Hilly agricultural land:
paddy land (wetland rice-
based land use) and gently
sloping upland and mini
Photo 5.1: The way to hill gardens and forest gardens. valleys (which is
During big rains, the strong water streams and floods often
prevent villagers from traveling to the farms

46
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

intensively used for planting fruit trees and perennial crops: hill garden). Depending
on each plot’s location, some hill garden can be dry and sloping. The forestland is
marginal upland with moderate and steep slopes, high erodibility and quickly
decreasing soil fertility (which in the past were natural forest, cleared for agricultural
land and abandoned, and now have been afforested).

Table 5.2: Land data of Huong Phu and Ha An


(Source: Data collection from Huong Phu and Ha An, 2004)
Huong Phu Ha An Average ha/household
Land use
(ha) (ha) Huong Phu Ha An
1. Rice field 47 2.25 0.083 0.032
2. Home garden 121* 6 0.227* 0.086
3. Hill garden 21* 13.2 0.039* 0.189
4. Rubber land 550 14 0.975 0.200
5. Pond 7.2 0.4 0.013 0.006
6. Forest plantation allocation land 160.2 33.3 0.284 0.476
7. Natural forest allocation land 1,249.9 118.2 2.216 1.689
8. Agriculture land 2 941 56.02 1.668 0.800
9. Forest plantation land 502 70 0.890 1.000
10. Natural forest land 4,557 400 8.080 5.714
* The data collected in the garden income survey by Huong Phu commune with 532
households in the total of 568 households, in which Ha An villagers use land to develop
garden more extensively and intensively than other places. While the size of agricultural
land in Ha An is smaller than that of the whole commune.

On the one hand, land resources of Ha An are smaller than that of the whole
commune, particularly agricultural land and rubber plantation land. On the other
hand, Ha An’s data of actual land use is much smaller to the data of total land area of
the village: from category 1 to 7, compared with category 8-10 (Table 5.2). Because
the majority is natural forests whose ownership is unclear between the BMNP and
District Forestry Protection Department. There is small area of residential land and
agricultural allocating to household’s ownership, in which farmers are now receiving
Red Book certificates (Land use certificates) confirming their right to exchange,
transfer, lease, inherit and mortgage the land use right. The forestland allocation
process is slower and most of present forestland-holding areas relate to past
afforestation programs. The data about land is not clear and different – there were
misinterpretations and misunderstandings in managing some areas of hill land for
agriculture and forestry in the history.

Results from the field survey show that among interviewed households, elder group
hold the biggest land size (61,657 m2), and next is the middle-aged group – whose
hill garden and total agricultural land are of largest size (Figure 5.1). Farmlands of
these two groups were allocated after 1986. The young group has the smallest
landholding size, which is inherited from parents or bought by themselves. Most of
newly set-up households (with household head’s age at 30-34) hold about 500m2
home garden and no hill garden, while the late 30ies often have larger agricultural
land and even some forestland given by their parents (Figure 5.1).

2
Agricultural land is generally understood as land under crops, pastures, aquaculture and
home/farm gardens

47
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

In the whole village, rice field area is very small, held mostly by middle-aged group.
Forestlands concentrate in households with the age of over 40, in which some 33.3 ha
of plantation forests were allocated to 22 households, and 118.2 ha to a number of 7
households. Some elder households have recently bought more farmland. Unclear
forestland tenure has resulted in the situation that some farmers hold large size of
forestland, others keep small size and the rest don’t have any forest land (Figure 5.1).

Figure 5.1: Average land holding size (m2) per household of interviewed groups
(Source: Field survey 2004)
60000
55000
(m2)

50000
45000
40000
35000
30000
25000
20000
15000
10000
05000
00000
Young group Middle-aged group Elder group

Average agricultural land 700 3855 3757


Home garden 700 1745 2043
Plantation forestland 3000 7818 13000
Natural forestland 0 5909 42857
Total average farm size 4400 19327 61657

At the field research time, villagers started to participate in a co-management


contract of 195ha natural forest with Huong Phu commune and Hue University of
Agricultural and Rural development. Farmers stress on the issue of land shortage,
particularly in Ha An village where the land is fragmented and unlikely to enlarge
because of the protected area’s natural forest boundary.

5.2.2 Financial capital

In the last five years, most of farmers could access to a range of different formal and
informal financial institutions, from Bank for the poor, Bank of Agricultural and
Rural Development to micro-credit schemes run by local women groups (Women
Union) supported by international NGOs, and credit linked with different rural
development projects and afforestation programs. There are also private
moneylenders in the commune and the district, however, Ha An villagers mentioned
they don’t have demand for this private, high-interest loans. Thanks to investment of
government and international organisations for rural development, they could access
to many favoured, low-interest micro-credit sources for plantation and livestock
husbandry. Some mention about loans from relatives as temporary and mostly for
urgent family work.

48
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

Most female members in the village take advantage of rotating credit-for-livestock


schemes managed by Women Union, and use mainly in pig-raising. The elder group
uses credit less but at highest amount for investing in forest plantation or big-scale
livestock. The younger groups have diverse demands for credits: livestock, perennial
tree nurseries, fertiliser, and other farming inputs and non-farm business. Villagers
participating in rubber-plantation program have a specific arrangement with the
bank, the rubber company and the district for borrowing long-term loans for
plantation inputs and tree management. A few cases borrow money for house
building, land buying or for children’s university education.

A number of farmers, especially with those at the age 50-60, expressed concerns
about the constraints of small sum, short term and complicated procedure of formal
credit institutions when there is an increasing need to invest in big-scale production
and perennial trees. Some officers and villagers talked about the cases of people
borrowed money for agriculture production purpose, but in fact they bought
motorbike.

5.2.3 Human capital

The elder and middle-aged groups have the largest family size of 6 averagely. Poor
family planning in the past resulted in some family’s population up to 8 or 9 persons.
Some households compose of elder people only, or windowed, in which some are
poor with the main reason as the lack of labour force. Many family members from
elder group have lived independently, becoming the young group; a few have
developed to the middle-aged group. The young group has the small family size of 4,
a young family starting as one independent household in their early 30ies (Table 5.3).

Table 5.3: Household characteristics of interviewed groups


(Source: Field survey 2004)
Elder Middle-aged Young
group group group
Average age of house head 61.9 43.7 33.8
Average family size 6.1 6.2 4.0
No. of young out-migrants per
0.4 0.5 0.0
household
Education level of house head 5.0 5.0 5.0*
* The education level of every young households are the highest level in the village, however,
this interview population exclude young households, whose income drive mainly from
salaries. The young group in this research are those who stopped studying early when they
followed family to settle in NEZs.

The middle-aged group is characterized as populous, with children of all ages: some
in elementary schools, some in higher education in the cities or some finished
studying, immigrating to the south. This group has highest young out-migrant rate
(6.6 is the average household size including out-migrants, 6.2 excluding out-
migrants). Most of the poorest households belong to this group, for the self-
perceived reasons of large family size pressure. Also, some household heads and
members suffer health problems, although not serious but influencing working
productivity. These health problems (rheumatism symptoms, back-ache, etc) are

49
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

seasonal and resulted from hard-working days in the past, under harsh and
different climate conditions in the uplands.

At the moment, all family-heads (above 30 year old) were not historically born in Ha
An. One part of elder household head were originated from places where have
practices of gardening. They were the first to have tried fruit tree plantation in the
land of Ha An. Although their education levels are low because of the war period,
the living and farming experience have accumulated and constituted their
development level of farming.

For the household head of 35-42 year old, the majority has few years of schooling
because most of them moved here with families at very young age, in the situation
of lack of labour, and/or lack of money, and/or lack of school. They grew up in Ha
An since 1975, worked early and many man traveled outside, trying different non-
farm jobs and labor work, and then came back to settle in Ha An. The out-migrating
experience provided a few
farmers with skills to do self-
employment non-farm
activities (carpenter, mason),
fulfilling the local demand in
Nam Dong district.

In a household, the man has


more labour-consuming
workloads and also
responsible for the heavier
tasks in any work. However
the woman often spends a
longer working time. The table
5.4 describes a normal working
Photo 5.2: The new-built elementary school of Huong Phu
commune locates in Ha An day of one household in
middle-aged group. Apart
from the main labour source of the man and women in the household, children
provide labour input in farming and domestic activities after class. They graze
cattle, collect food for livestock, do weeding, pick up fruits, collect fuelwood, etc.

One strong characteristic of Ha An villagers is that they are hard-working and


enthusiastic with farming. Most of household interviews had to carried out during
evenings – when farmers return home and while I could easily approach a farmer
during daytime in other villages. Another strong point of Ha An is the education
level of children and young generation: highest rate of schools enrollment and
number of university students in comparison to the whole commune.

In the village, some elder households have demand for hire labour. Villagers and
district officers mentioned about the arising paradoxical situation of increasing rate
of wage labour and the lack of labour supply locally while many young labourers in
the district are out-migrating.

50
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

Table 5.4: A normal working day calendar of household


(Source: field survey 2004)
Time Male Female
The family wakes up
5.30 am Prepare rice for breakfast. Feed the pigs.
Or go to market very early to sell farm
products during harvesting times.
6.00 – Have breakfast and travel to hill Have breakfast. Go to market to buy
6.30 am farm. food.
Join the husband to work in the hill
Stay and work at farm all the days
farm.
During if the farm is far from house.
Or stay home to take care of babies. And
the day Otherwise go back home to have
feed livestock and care for home garden.
lunch.
Prepare lunch and dinner
5.30-6.00 Back home from the farm. Have
Dinner
pm dinner.
6.00-10.00 Clean the house and prepare food for
Watch TV or chat with neighbors.
pm livestock.
10.00-
Go to bed
11.00 pm

5.2.4 Social capital

With migrants historically originated from various places, the village was set up and
developed as one modern Kinh administrative unit, different to the type of
traditional, indigenous communities in Vietnam. The past cooperative experience
could also leave negative impacts on Vietnamese rural people about ill-managed
group arrangement, opportunistic behaviors and low economic incentives in
managing common pool resources. The failures of many agriculture and forestry
development interventions have resulted in a low level of motivations and trusts of
farmers towards government services and programs.

The administrative structure of Ha An in the context of Huong Phu commune


consists of 2 levels: Commune and village levels, which are implemented on
principle of Party leadership, People’s mastery and State management (HUAF and
IDRC, 2002). To support the administration authorities, there are different mass
organizations such as the Veteran Association, the Farmer’s Union, the Women’s
Union and the Youth Union.

This section of social capital specifically focuses on the social network of Ha An


villagers in farming. There are some village-wide arrangements for the managing of
farmlands and livestock, and different cooperation among local people organised by
themselves and by the management board of the commune and the village, in buying
inputs, such as crops, fertilisers, etc.

51
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

Table 5.5: How assets and capital influence farmers’ decision and preference for
livelihoods and garden development
(Source: Field survey 2004)

Opportunities: Threats:

Land - Fertile soil - Small, fragmented land in different


- Diverse land, suited to diverse places, increasing transaction cost,
fauna and flora time and workloads in traveling
between plots

Other natural - Good source of water for - Big rains reduce agriculture
capital plantations productivity and cause soil erosion
- Forests: - The weather is stable - Natural forest is poor
- Water
- Climate and
weather:

Physical capital - Good, new-built district and - Infrastructure and market only
commune road developed in the last 3 years
- All villagers could access to - Difficult to travel to hillside lands
electricity network
- Many villagers have TV, Radio,
telephones,...
- Communal post office locates right
in Ha An

Financial capital - Many sources of credit - Lack of long-term, big-scale credit

Human capital - Enough labour for agriculture - Lack of technical skills


production - Limited employment chances for
- Children receive good education youths
- Farmers are hard working and - Education level of people in 1975 is
enthusiastic about planting trees. low
They develop a lot of experience in
gardening

Social capital - Good cooperation and close - At the beginning, people originated
network among villagers, from different places with different
especially in gardening cultures, farming practices (coastal
- Farmers learn from others easily areas, urban, lowlands)
and quickly. Villagers are open to - Bad experience from cooperative and
share experience and help one collectivization prior to 1986.
other with nurseries, inputs. - Low motivation and trust in
government services and programs

Notes from villagers from all ages and also from neighboring villagers are that Ha
An people are very open to share knowledge and support others with tree nurseries
and inputs. They explain about well-established gardens and the similar level of
development in Ha An as results of the good link and relationship among villagers.
They could easily have tree nurseries from neighbors at very low price or as a gift,
especially received a lot of help when they started to develop garden.

52
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

The elder households influence other groups with their success and experience in
planting fruit trees and perennial crops. Villagers share strong enthusiasm in fruit
tree and forest plantation, especially among old and middle-aged people. Their day-
to-day conversation always related to farming topics: seeds, fertilizer, rubber trees,
etc. The young farmers express their expectations to have enough capability to
develop gardens as well as the elder farmers. The social contacts in the village also
influence the way of the village invest a lot for education and activities of children.

With the facilitation from Extension Center, local people set up the agroforestry club.
It is an important step to strengthen the network and learning-through-farmers link,
in which some clear arrangements about input and financial support among club
members are stipulated.

Looking back at all these assets and capital, there are a number of opportunities and
difficulties influencing villagers’ decisions to select development pathways, develop
gardens and plant trees. Table 5.5 provides an analysis on these enabling and
constraint factors.

5.3 Livelihood activities


The following data and analysis are results from a rapid survey over the whole
village and in-depth interviews with households during the field research, supported
by literature review, which particularly includes one socio-economic survey in the
village by Nam Dong Statistical Office in 2001-2002.

In the study site, livelihoods activities are put under the categories described in the
below table. In which, on-farm sector refers to production aspect including crop
production (growing of food crops, industrial crops and fruit trees and forest),
livestock husbandry; in non-farm production, this related to agro-processing
industries, trading service and other non-farm production. Non-farm sector is still
very limited in the highlands, mainly consisting of small trades and low-skilled
home industries like carpenter, tailors, etc. in Ha An village. Off-farm activities
include those activities without investment of capital (Thanh, 2003). In the study site,
off-farm activities consist of gathering activities (hunting, fishing, forest exploitation)
and income earned by households as wage labour or salary jobs, pension,
remittances and gifts, etc. There is some overlapping in the distinction between off-
farm and non-farm activities.

5.3.1 Overview

Main characteristics of livelihoods and income sources in Ha An are:

- There is a high level of fruit tree gardens development and almost every
family has cash income from fruit tree products. The village goes ahead other
villages and communes of Nam Dong district in developing garden while
those places still depend on forest-extracted activities (Table 5.7).

53
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

Table 5.6: Sectors and activities for analysis of household livelihoods in Ha An


(Source: Field survey, 2004)

Sector Activities/products

On-farm
Crop and tree production
(home gardens, hill gardens Food crops: Rice, Beans, Cassava Potatoes,
and forest gardens) Peanut, vegetables, chilly, etc.
Fruit trees: Oranges, Lemons, Banana, Betel nut,
Grape fruit, mango, Rambutan, longan, guava,
papaya
Short-term and perennial industrial crops:
cinnamon, pineapple, pepper, ginger, coffee, tea,
bamboo for chips
Plantation forest and natural forest: Wood-oil
tree, acacia, rubber, bamboo, native trees

Livestock production Pigs (32 pigs for breeding; 120 pigs for meat),
buffalos (7), cows (35), goats, poultry (more than
2000), 7 fish pond, etc.

Off-farm and Non-farm


Collection of Forest products Products: timber, fuelwood and NTFPs from
and NTFP plantation forests
Afforestation and Protection just started, not
stable (WWF2), but prove economically
Logging: forbidden (one case reported). NTFPs:
resources exhausted (2-3 households involved)

Salary job Full-time salaries in government organisations


(e.g. teachers and district and communal officers)

Hired labour Wage from supplying labour to other farms

Small trade and home Services, small trades and self-employment,


industry home industries (a few households engaged in
non-farm activities) such as carpentry, small-
construction, truck driving, fixing
bicycle/motorbike, wine cooking ect.

Remittances, gifts and others Cash earned from migration and sent by family
members not living with the household, other
gifts, pensions, etc.

Domestic activities Maintenance of basic household health and


nutrition including: preparing and eating meals,
housekeeping and construction, attending
gatherings, traveling, leisure and sleeping, and
education

- The differences of Ha An village with other villages are that: the majority of
local people have stable income source from gardening, only 2-3 families
collect NTFPs from natural forest to supplement income. And a number of

54
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

households have income sources of job salaries from family members who are
working for schools, district and commune offices.

- Livelihoods are diverse, within agricultural production (crops, trees and


livestock), within land uses and within income sources (Table 5.6).

- The villagers are characterized with 3 groups: the group of over 50 year old
(there are 25 households in total) they have the best-developed-gardens and
hold largest land size, which include agricultural land and forest land. The
groups of 40 – 50 year old (21 households), they are developing home and hill
gardens as the main source of incomes, combining with additional incomes of
hired labour, small trade, home industry... The last group is households of 30-
39 year old (24 households), they have the smallest landholding and family
size, and depend mostly on wage employment, hired labour or home
industry.

- There are 11 female-headed households, in which 10 of them are windowed


women. Most of them have home gardens, but in a small scale and the main
incomes are from non-farm sources: hired labour, small trades, etc. Gardens
were mainly developed by their deceased husbands.

Table 5.7: Number and Percentage of household in buffer-zone villages of Huong


Phu commune having different garden income
(Source: Huong Phu commune, garden survey 2004)
Xuan Phu Huong Phu
Income from garden Ha An village
village commune
(VND/year)
No. % No. % No. %
≥ 5,000,000 24 44% 2 2% 73 16%
5,000,000 > income> 3,000,000 11 20% 11 13% 58 13%
≤ 3,000,000 20 36% 69 84% 313 70%
No. and Percentage of
55 79% 82 77% 444 79%
households in the survey

5.3.2 Income sources

In the village’s economy, although salary is the most stable income and contribute a
substantial proportion, there are only a small number of households (12) having
incomes from salaries. The majority of Ha An villagers derive their first or second
main source of incomes from agriculture, in which plantation are the core livelihood
(Figure 5.2).

Findings from field survey show that middle-aged and elder households are most
gardening-dependent, with 73% and 57% respectively of each group whose garden-
income accounts for more than half of household income (Figure 5.3). While there is
only 20% of young group cited gardening income as the biggest part of their
livelihoods, and another 20% confirming gardening income account for 30-50% of
total income. Fruit tree products are major income outputs from gardening, while
rice and food crops plays a very minor cash-generating role, mostly used as food for
family and livestock. Among interviewed households, plantation products generate
cash as much as 42.3% and 41.8% of the total income in elder and middle-aged
groups respectively, while only 17.2% in the young group (Table 5.8).

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Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

Figure 5.2: Ranking of income sources


(Source: Nam Dong SO, Ha An survey in 2001)

40

35
Agiculture
30
No. of households

Salary
25

20 Self-employment
and home
15 industries
Small trades
10

5
Hired Labour
0
1st main source 2nd main source

Figure 5.3: Share of Gardening in the total household income of Interviewee


groups
(Source: Field survey 2004)

100%
9% 14%
18%
75% income share < 30%
60% 29%

30%? Income share ? 50%


50%

73%
20% income share > 50%
57%
25%

20%
0%
Young group Middle-aged Elder group
group

A small number of villagers are starting to harvest forestry products, namely rubber
and acacia from past afforestation programs. There are 2 interviewed middle-aged
households whose the income from rubber product in 2003 contributed 23% and 26%
of their annual incomes. Although the forestry data is not available yet during field
survey time, but forestry income prove to be a very promising income for household
economy, in particularly in the elder and middle-aged groups who hold forestland.

Small-scaled poultry and pig raising are practiced by most of villagers with a total
number of over 2000 poultry (chickens, ducks) and 130 pigs (in which, 32 are
breeding pigs). Livestock husbandry do not play significant role in the village’s
economy as in other neighboring places, representing 12.7%, 19.3% and 19.4% in total
income of young, middle-aged and elder groups’ respectively (Table 5.8). Big
animals (buffalos, cows and goats) are raised in a small number of middle-aged and
old households: there are about 10 households keeping 35 cows and 3 keeping 7

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Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

buffalos. Small livestock are cited as low profitable and mostly raised for manure, to
sell and for home consumption. Cattle are raised to sell, for manure and
transportation. The biophysical characteristic and market opportunity are suitable for
cattle-raising, however, lacking of grassland
capacity because of small land-holding size
limits big-scale livestock production and freely
cattle-rearing. At the current situation, villagers
are faced with constraints of capital-intensive,
time-consuming for raising marketable big
animals. Livestock is under care and
management within the time of the women and
children in every household (Photo 5.3).
Besides, there are 6 fishponds in the whole
village, however both community data and
field survey found out that the cash-generating
contribution is not big to household and
village’s economy.

Table 5.8 and 5.9 describes the non-farm and


off-farm activities of Ha An villagers. Young
households depend largely on these income- Photo 5.3: Kept-livestock
generating activities: the interviewees cited (Source: Jeanette, M. TBI-Hue).
41.4% and 28.7% of total income sources are from self-employment, home industries
and hired labour respectively. The middle-aged group derives about 10% from each
of these income sources, and 6.5% from trade, services. The elder group has a stable
proportion of 19.5% income source from the salaries of family members (often
children who work as teachers). The in-depth interviews did not cover the salary-
based households, who have small dependence on agriculture. Incomes from other
sources, such as migration remittances, gifts, pension, etc are small: 6.5% and 2.8%
for elder and middle-aged groups respectively (Table 5.8).

Table 5.8: Ranking income sources between interviewed groups


(Source: Field survey 2004)
Middle-aged
Income from: Young group Old groups
group
Agriculture 29.9% 60.7% 60.9%
Plantation 17.2% 41.8% 42.3%
Livestock 12.7% 18.9% 18.6%
Forestry 0.0% 4.4% 0.5%
Fisheries 0.0% 0.0% 1.5%
Home industries 41.4% 10.2% 5.1%
Trade, services 0.0% 6.5% 6.1%
Hired labor 28.7% 10.0% 0.0%
Salary 0.0% 5.4% 19.5%
Other 0.0% 2.8% 6.5%

Overall, apart from salary source, many households participating in non-farm and
off-farm activities to supplement the family’s income. In the whole village, there are
only 5-6 households having the first and second main source income generating from
non-farm business, such as truck-driving, house-building, carpentry or small trade.
The first and second main income from hired labour activities applies for a number

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Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

of 7-8 and 14-15 households respectively (Figure 5.2). The heads of these households
are in 30ies and early 40ies, or are women. Most of activities are low-skilled and low-
capital-required while there is very limited chances for non-farm economy in Nam
Dong. Even the number of government-paid jobs, which are most expected for local
well-educated young generation, is becoming very scarce. The situation pushes
youths further to migrate out, reducing family’ s expenditure burden. The money
from migration and other sources, such as pensions, remittances and gifts, etc. is
small, 2.8% and 6.5% of the total incomes in middle-aged and elder group
respectively (Table 5.9).

Table 5.9. Profile of Off-farm and Non-farm Livelihoods in the village


(Source: Field survey 2004)
Activities No. of Remarks
household
participating
Salary 12 households The majority are teachers (23 people) whose salary is
in the rage of VND 7,2 – 12 million/ person/year.
There are 4 people working in the commune office
and 1 for district office, whose salary contribute 30% -
50% of the household income.

Small trade and 12-14 Selling and buying a variety of products and services
services in the village and the district: from agricultural
products to ice cream, food, and general products. In
which, women is mainly involved, trading in Khe Tre
market. 4 middle-aged women collect fruits to other
rural markets outside Nam Dong.

Hired labour 15 Supply labour to big land-holders in the village and


other places, even outside Nam Dong. (There are
about 5 women participating).
Non-farm 12-14 Young laborers: often 25-39 years old – The oldest is
activities: 46.
Carpentry, house- Mainly low-skilled and unprofessional, only 2-3 cases
building, work well and fully self-employed;
tailoring, ect. Before most of villagers participated in wine cooking,
which relates closely to food for pig-raising. Now
there are around 10 ones left because they could not
sell wine easily.

Migration 15-16 people Young villagers migrate to the south for finding jobs
in 14 as tailors, handicraft-makers and other low-skilled
households labour work.

5.4 Livelihoods strategies


The previous chapter has introduced the context of Ha An Village in a history of 29
years (1975-2004). Villagers have pursued and changed different livelihoods
activities, in which they learn to deal with risks, uncertainties, shocks and seasonality
in natural and human environments (Box 5.1). The history of the village since 1975

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Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

has witness many significant socio-economic, political changes, influencing both


natural resources management and rural development, and imposing major impacts
on the livelihoods of Ha An people.

Local people follow livelihood strategies of agricultural intensification/


extensification, livelihood diversification and migration.

Box 5.1: History of livelihoods in Ha An

During the period from 1975 until early 1990s, Ha An livelihoods relied on slash and
burn cultivation, hunting and gathering forest products. At the beginning, people had
to do collective work in the forest and got paid in products (WWF, 1997), and the main
agriculture activities were cassava, rice and other basic food crop production. Forest-
extractive activities became strong during the 1980s, when villagers collected timber,
non-timber products and animals – for food, and for cash. Agricultural productivity
was low, soil fertility was decreasing, and therefore, local people depended on forest
resources as their main income-generating source to buy food during food shortage
months. People went to forest early 5-6 am in the morning and only went back late
around 5-6 pm.

There were only a few farmers planted fruit trees like banana and lemon. A proportion
of income sources were from contracts with the craft-making cooperative before 1986.

Forest and NTFP-exploitative activities diminished largely in 1993-1995, as a result of


the “closed forest policy” and the exhausted situation of natural resources. A lot of fruit
trees were planted in most home gardens around mid 1990s, and gradually villagers
mixed fruit trees, industrial perennial crops with food crops in hill garden.

A mixture of livelihoods started to evolve since 1996-1997. Villagers have derived most
of their food and cash income from cultivating wetland rice, food and industrial crops
and fruit trees in home gardens and hilly farms, raising livestock. With the development
of market economy and infrastructure in the upland district, several households involve
in hired labour, and some engage in small trade, tailor, carpentry, etc. In 2002, the past-
degraded hills, which have been covered by some reforestation programs, started to
benefit financially to farmers with products from tree plantation, especially in the
coming time.

5.4.1 Agricultural intensification/extensification

In the past, the main livelihood strategy of these in-migrants was agricultural
extensification or “pioneer/frontier agriculture migration”, which had detrimental
effects on the natural resource base. Given the limited land assets, farmers have
presently intensified crops and trees production on home gardens and agricultural
land in upland areas, and intensify animal production. They put more labour and
inputs (animal manure, fertilizer) to maximize the output and productivity of these
existing farming lands. At the beginning, they follow labour-led intensification with
low-inputs crops and animals (bananas, lemons, chicken, etc.), and gradually
combine with capital-led intensification with high-inputs and high-value
trees/animals (orange, cinnamon, coffee, cows, buffalos, etc.)

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Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

On the other hand, extensification of forestlands also takes place, when areas of
natural forest and plantation forests are allocating to villagers. This enables farmers
to combine both strategies of agricultural intensification and extensification,
particularly planting perennial trees and practicing agroforestry models of forest –
fruit trees – livestock – food crops – (fishpond). Within household groups, the older
the households are, the more intensified and higher level of integrated intensification
and extensification system of plantation and animal production.

5.4.2 Diversification

Over the time, diversification has become


main characteristics of livelihood
strategies in which Ha An villagers learn
to deal with (to cope with and to manage)
risks and uncertainties in natural and
human environments. Variability in
climatic conditions, outbreaks of pests
and crop diseases, family sickness or crisis
all compound to make production risky,
while shifts in market and related
conditions affecting prices and
distribution of food and goods add to the
unpredictability (Peters, 1998).

Diversification is within income strategies


(which combine on-farm, off-farm and
non-farm activities) and especially strong
within agricultural activities (trees and
Photo 5.4: Diversity in home garden
crops selection, and land uses). Diversity
enables farmers to capitalize on the agronomic benefits of integrated systems while
maximizing profit and minimizing risk (IDE, 2004). Like an investment portfolio, a
small farm is most likely to yield healthy profits when it has a diverse range of
products and times to investment maturity (IDE, 2004). Ha An people grow around
20–25 different crops and raise 4-5 types of livestock for their living and at the same
time, get incomes from 3-4 different off- and non-farm incomes (Table 5.6).

With a time perspective, in the past, they depended mostly on food crop and forest
products to ensure family’s food security. And gradually, to adapt with the change in
forest management, they have mixed food crops (for daily subsistence need during a
certain time of a year) with perennial crops like industrial crops and fruit trees (for
cash to cover daily food and living expenses), and livestock production (for small
reserves) and at present invest in timber and forest trees (for family’s large reserves),
when market and infrastructure improvements facilitate development of more
tradable perennial tree products. To cope with climate and soil characteristics as well
as changes in prices and markets, they diversify crops species in different land uses
which ranging from bananas, lemon, oranges, papayas to pineapples, cinnamon,
pepper, betel nuts, bamboos, etc.

Within different age groups, for example with the older household group, they
depend on a highly diversified level of agriculture, agroforestry activities: home

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Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

gardens, livestock production, plantation forests; and money from government


salaries, gifts from migrated children. The younger groups depend on diversification
of off- and non-farm incomes: small trade, hired labor, home industry; and
additional cash from home gardens and livestock (Table 5.10).

Table 5.10: Number of interviewed households participating in different income-


generating activities
(Source: Field survey 2004)
Middle-aged
Young group Elder group
Income-generating activities group
No. % No. % No. %
Plantation 4 80% 11 100% 7 100%
Livestock raising 5 100% 11 100% 7 100%
Small trades and services 0 0% 3 27% 3 43%
Self-employment and home industries 3 60% 4 36% 2 28%
Salary jobs 0* 0% 2 18% 3 43%
Hired labour 3 60% 6 55% 0 0%
Remittances, gifts and others 2 40% 5 45% 4 57%
* In the whole village, there are 3-4 young-aged households have job salaries

Between gender, the male members get involved in a wide range of income-
generating activities: labour-intensive farm work, hired labour, self-employment and
home industries, seasonal migration, ect. The female diversifies her role with a
number of trading and time-consuming livelihoods: domestic, livestock, farm work,
small trades and services, etc. In the whole village, there are 4-5 women reported to
participate in hired labour. From findings in the interviewed households, one female
in young group joined her husband to earn money from hired labour and there were
2 female youths are working in the south (Table 5.9).

5.4.3 Migration

Different types of migration had occurred in Ha An and the district of Nam Dong:
the organised frontier agriculture migration from lowland to upland areas in 1970s
and the free, spontaneous out-migration since mid-1990s.

Direct policy intervention in government-organised resettlement programmes failed


to relocate people from the lowlands to build a sustainable life in the NEZs in the
highlands after 1975 (Anh et al, 2003). As many as 70-80% the migrants to Ha An
have been reported to have moved again or to have returned home soon after arrival,
because of food insecurity, poverty and diseases in a very harsh working and living
situation.

Since the mid-1990s, with the introduction of market-oriented economy, spontaneous


movement has replaced organised migration as the major redistributive vehicle of
Vietnam’s population (Anh et al, 2003). The increasing commercialization of
agriculture and the replacement of labour with capital inputs have been of major
significance in releasing the rural workforce and prompting them to leave rural
areas. In Nam Dong district, as elsewhere, economic pressure and limited rural
opportunities fuel a variety of migration to cities and other prosperous rural lowland
areas. Some people work for 3 or 6 months per year (seasonal migration in free time

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Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

after the harvest), others work year by year (more than 6 months), especially with
youths (WWF, 1997).

To earn more for themselves and their families, more than 200 Huong Phu’s young
people (working age and under working age) annually leave their hometown for a
period of more than 6 months, to find jobs in southern provinces and elsewhere. This
number in Ha An is 12-15 people (relatively smaller than the other villages of Huong
Phu commune), most of them above working age. These people seek jobs of many
kinds, working as tailors, carpenters, mason, handicraftsmen, ect.

Among the interviewed elder- and middle-aged households, the proportion of young
out-migrants is 0.43 and 0.45 emigrants/household respectively, in which some
middle-aged households have 2 children working out of home place. Many young
and middle-aged household-heads traveled in the past or are having seasonal
migration to other places for the temporary demand for labourers, carpenters,
mason, etc. At least, there are 3 out of the 11 interviewed middle-aged households
and 2 out of the 5 interviewed young-aged group discussed about their current
seasonal migration. Of all interviews, there are 5 cases at the age of 31-40 who used
to spend years traveling and working in other places prior to the settlement back in
the village of Ha An. These people are children of elder-aged household group,
migrating to Ha An after 1975 with their families when they were very small.
Villagers in their late 30ies and early 40ies mentioned that migration and working
experience with several places provided them with dynamic skills in doing non-farm
self-employment business and starting commercial farming in their home village at
present.

The village and the official district and commune data don’t show clearly about how
the migration for a period of more than 6 months of youths contribute economically
to household incomes. In my survey, the main expression of households having
young out-migrants was about the reduction of economic pressure in big-size
families. A number of few households receive remittances and gifts, and they invest
in farming or other living facilities, which they explained to be for the migrants when
returning back or investing for the following children. Several villagers, young and
old people discussed that they haven’t seen any successful example of out-migrants
who find a good earning business and could contribute to the household income
substantially. Elder men and women groups gave their concerns about the situation
in other villages and communes, when a growing number of teenagers quit schools
and migrate out for work. For youths, generally, many of them expects to travel out
of rural areas to find more non-farm opportunities as many believes that “to be poor
in the cities are better than to be rich in the countryside” (Anh et al, 2003); they only
expect to return home if there is no opportunity left.

In overall, the out-migration in Ha An is similar to the common situation in Nam


Dong district or uplands elsewhere in Vietnam, where on-farm incomes are not
enough to maintain the household economy sustainably and non-farm opportunities
are limited, but it takes place in a smaller-scale which is influenced by the garden-
based economy of the village.

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Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

5.4.4 An interaction of household’s livelihood strategies: Farm – Non-


farm Linkage

There is a linkage developing between growth in the farm and non-farm sectors with
regards to their supply and demand and hence their likely poverty-reducing benefits
(Dorward, 2003). Farm activities in Ha An offer opportunities for non-farm sectors,
directly and indirectly. Even here the poor are unlikely to gain much directly as self-
employed producers of tradable agricultural commodities, with limited access to
land and capital and relatively low on-farm incomes (Dorward, 2003). Poor
households could benefit from increased demand for labour, services from the better-
off farmers. Several households in the first group hire labor from the other two
groups or from other villages, and a number of small trades, services and frequent
demands for transportation of inputs, outputs increases with the growth of farm
products. The infrastructure, market and services improvements are playing very
active facilitating role during this process.

Although the linkage effects are modest and not so strong to create a clear synergy
between farm and non-farm sectors, there is some certain interaction starting. While
in many places elsewhere in uplands of Vietnam, the situation is either for many
poor rural families, farming on its own is unable to provide a sufficient means of
survival, or the rural development efforts fails to boost up non-farm income earning
opportunities in disadvantageous areas or through the urban-rural link. There are
often “high barrier to entry” non-farm activities, limiting the benefits to the poor,
upland people.

Farming also influences the migration phenomenon of Ha An village: while the


number of out-migrants are growing in Huong Phu (in a total of over 200 youths), it
remains relatively small in Ha An from 12-15, and the age of out-migrants is higher.
It could be explained that on-farm income could invest in higher education of
children, in which some get professional training to become teachers.

5.5 An integrated system of livelihood assets, activities and


strategies of different age groups
Table 5.11 summarizes findings from the previous sections in this chapter and
develop an integrated and comparative analysis of the system of livelihood assets,
activities and strategies of different age groups.

Those who are above 50 year old have developed garden very well and receiving stable
gardening income. These households have accumulated a comparatively high level of
assets and capital, from land, physical, financial capital to the knowledge and
experience of farming. They started home gardening since early days of NEZs.
Experiencing trials and errors with different trees, crops, they have influenced Ha An
to develop gardens, getting out of forest-dependence

Those who are 40-50 are at the best time to invest and maximize the productivity of home and
hill gardens. This group is pursuing most complicated livelihoods, diversifying
livelihoods activities in different incomes sources, in different gardens and in
different trees and crops production. Although having relatively good productivity

63
Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

in farming, they are faced with a lot of difficulties with the pressure of large family
size. Most poor households belong to this group, in which there are some households
already get out of the list of 14 poor households of Ha An in 2001, due to many
reasons: gardens developed, more demand for hired labours, children migrate to
work. Changing from depending on forest and NTFP exploitation before 1996 to
gardening, many farmers are investing extensively and intensively in hill gardens
and forest gardens.

Those who are young and just started to live independently are putting their energy in hired
labour and other non-farm activities. This young households have limited natural
capital, especially land left. Apart from a number of households deriving their
incomes from salary-paid jobs, many diversify their incomes by engaging in non-
farm activities (carpenter, mason, tailor) and hired labour. At the age of 39-40, some
have developed good gardens, and have good incomes from both farm and non-farm
activities.

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Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

Table 5.11: An integrated system of livelihood assets, activities and strategies of different age groups
(Source: Field survey 2004)
Elder group Middle-aged group Young group
(Older than 50) (From 40 to 50) (Younger than 39)
Assets and capitals
Land - Hold the biggest land size (averagely - Have big landholding size (19,727 m2), - Small home gardens (500m2, bought
61,657 m2): allocated home garden especially with hill gardens. Hill and inherited from parents). Few have
(2,043m2), agricultural land (3,757 m2) and gardens of 3,427 m2 (range from 1,500 hill gardens.
forestlands (55,857 m2). Some have bought to 10,000), home gardens of 1,745 m2
farmland and forestland. (from 1,000 to 2,500). The landholding
size is homogenous in this group.

Human - Some households compose of elder people - Populous, with children of all ages (6.6 - Have the smallest family size (4.0).
capital only, or windowed. Many family members is the average household size including Household head is at average of 33.8
have lived independently, becoming the out-migrants, 6.2 - excluding out- year old.
young group; a few have developed to the migrants). Average age of household - Education level: mixed – 5 cases in the
middle-aged group. Average household head is 43.7. Most of the poorest whole village have government
size is 6.1 people/family. Household households belong to this group, for salaries and high education levels. But
head’s average age is 61.9 year old. the self-perceived reasons of large the majority of 35-39 year old have low
- Some of them have demand for hired labor family size pressure. education level due to the historical
- Have very good knowledge and - Many have children out-migrating, context, most of them moved here with
experience of plantation, the diseases of which reduce the economic burden (0.6 families in very young ages.
trees and animals per household) - They grew up in Ha An since 1975,
- Education levels are low because of the - Some household heads and members worked early and many of male
war period. Their living and farming suffer health problems (back-ache, headed traveled to many outside
experience accumulate and constitute their foot-ache, etc), influencing working places, tried different non-farm jobs
development level of farming productivity. and labor work and come back to settle
- A part of elder villagers were originated in Ha An recently.
from places where have practices of
gardening. They were the first to tried fruit
trees in the land of Ha An.

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Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

Elder group Middle-aged group Young group


(Older than 50) (From 40 to 50) (Younger than 39)
Assets and capitals
Financial - They are using credit less but at highest - Diverse demands for credits: livestock, - Credits demand is small, most of them
capital amount for investing in forest plantation or gardening inputs, production facility, borrow money for livestock. Some
big-scale livestock. Most refer to livestock- non-farm business. borrow money for buying land or
credit program the women of household building houses
participate in.
- Some borrowed money from the bank for
children’s university education

Social - Be very helpful and open to share farming - Closely link, and have very good
capital inputs and experience of farming within relationships between every villager.
their groups and to younger households - There is one case cattle kept by group
of two families.
- An agroforestry club is set up by
farmers, households expressing their
big interest in gardening.

Livelihood activities and strategies -

On-farm - Have longest history of developing - Diversified land uses: have well- - Gardens are not well-developed or just
garden. The gardens are managed very developed home gardens and are start to grow. They contain mainly of
well and at harvesting period, especially investing intensively in hill gardens. oranges, lemons and bananas.
with home garden. Mixture between young crops and old
- Have tried many diversified crops: fruit crops.
trees and industrial crops - Have tried several crops: food crops,
- History: some have started home fruit trees and industrial trees. Rice field
gardening since early days of NEZs since play food security role to big sized
1975. Have experienced trials and errors families, even it is not productive.
with different trees, crops. They have - History: used to depend on forest and

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Chapter 5. Livelihood assets, activities and strategies

taken Ha An to lead in Nam Dong in NTFP exploitation in the need of cash to


developing gardens, getting out of buy rice and ensure food security. Most
forest-dependence. changed their life after 1996.
- Livestock has less important role than - Livestock has less important role than - Livestock is part of household incomes
plantation. A few households keep a big plantation. A few households keep cows and the major part in agriculture
herd of cows and buffalos. production, keeping mostly poultry
and pig-raising.
- Several households start to have - Some households start to have
substantial cash income from plantation substantial cash income from plantation
forests of acacia and rubber. forests of acacia and rubber.
- Invest intensively and extensively in - Invest extensively and intensively in
forest garden. forest garden

Non and - Some have stable incomes from - A mixture of incomes sources from: - Diversify non-farm and off-farm
off-farm government salaries (children), pension home industries, small trade and activities. Most of incomes are from
services, hired labour, salaries and non-farm jobs (carpenter, mason,
migration. tailor) and hired labour.
- There are 2 households used to be poor - At the age of 39-40, some have
and already escaped from the list of 14 developed good gardens, and have
poor households of Ha An in 2001. good incomes from both farm and non-
Households have got better-off for many farm activities.
reasons: gardens developed, more
demand for hired labours, children
migrate to work.
- Poor farmers which have land but don’t
invest in garden. They put priority to
immediate needs by participating hired
labour, livestock husbandry.

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

“Our strength is gardens. Only another village in other commune of Nam Dong
grows many fruit trees and sell fruits like us. Other places they have bigger land, but
they are not investing in gardens, neither home or hill garden”
“Our weakness is rubber, we don’t have land for rubber plantation. In many villages,
they used to be poorer than us. But now they are getting much better: because of
rubber and acacia forests”.
“If we have more land, we will plant acacia. If we have money, we will invest in forest
plantation”
(Interviews with local people, 2004)

The dominant role of garden (home garden, hill garden and potential forest garden)
and plantation has been indicated in previous chapter, in the context of household’s
livelihood assets, activities and strategies. The following sections are particularly to
discuss the main land uses and tree plantation activities of Ha An people. The
chapter begins with the analysis of agroforestry systems characteristics, and
continues with the discussion of the diversity of and villager’s preferences for trees
after many years of trials and errors. The analysis of AF systems will illustrate why
and how farmers adopt this AF system or not adopt that AF system. And then, the
market and development analysis of trees plantation will discuss what influence
farmers decisions and preferences for trees. At the end of the chapter, the above
analyses are summarized and there is a discussion on farmers’ perceived benefits of
AF.

The majority of Ha An villagers shifted to planting perennial crops and trees in


agriculture land since mid 1990s, and recent changes in markets and policy
encourage them to invest in tree plantation in hilly areas. Farmers recognize the
improvement in their socio-economic life and the environment sustainable outcomes
of current garden systems. They also started to perceive the high potential benefits of
investment in plantation forests and natural forests. These have resulted from a
history of settlement in the highlands, after cutting, planting and re-planting a
diversity of agricultural and perennial crops and trees.

6.1 Household land use and agroforestry systems


There are 4 main land uses in the study site: wetland rice-based system in paddy
land, fruit tree-based agroforestry system in home garden, fruit tree-based
agroforestry system in hill garden (categorized as agricultural land), and
acacia/rubber/plantation forest- and natural forest-based agroforestry system in
sloping, marginal upland (categorized as forestland): forest garden. Because wetland
rice area is small and play a minor role in household’ economy, so the chapter will
focus on agroforestry systems of home garden, hill garden and forest garden.

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

Figure 6.1 Transect map of land uses in Ha An


(Source: Field survey 2004 and adapted from WWF, 1997 and HUAF, 2003)

Agriculture land (Rice field, Gardens and Agriculture land Plantation and natural
food crops) and homesteads homesteads (Hill garden) forests
(Home garden) (Forest garden)

For farmers in Ha An and elsewhere, nong lam ket hop (Agroforestry) is a new
terminology just started in their life 3-4 years ago, although they have practiced
certain AF models. Agroforestry is a collective name for land use systems and
technologies involving trees combined with crops and/ or animals on the same land
management unit (Nair, 1993; Tamale et al, 1995). In most areas of Asia, a very
popular AF practice is home garden and in Vietnam it is called VAC: Vuon
(orchard/garden), Ao (pond), Chuong (livestock). And in the highlands, Rung (forest)
is incorporated into the system, AF practice on sloping areas becoming RVAC.
Villagers in Ha An consider forest as the indispensable element in one AF system,
and their current gardening activities related to agriculture practice only.

In the study site, small and fragmented land affects the development level and scope
of the other elements of Ao (pond) and Chuong (livestock), which were reported to be
of low yield or low profitability and are maintained to support the plantation system
and domestic consumption. Daily food for animal is cassava, fruit stems, vegetables
and soft tree-leaves collected from home-, hill garden, fallow- or boundary-land
plots. The manure from big livestock provides the important source to fertilize
plantation soil, supplementary to the costly input of chemical fertilizer. This section
will focus on Vuon (garden), the history, characteristics and the advantages and
disadvantages of each land uses.

6.1.1 Vuon nha (Home garden)

“Chay loc xoc khong bang goc vuon (Nothing could compare to home garden for its
easiness, effectiveness and feasibility” (comments from several experienced farmers)

The home garden-based AF practices are planting fruit trees surrounding the
homesteads, combined with commercial short cycle and perennial crops (industrial
crops) under shade trees and livestock husbandry.

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

Almost villagers have home garden, with a small average size of 800 m2 per
household (in which, interviewed households have the smallest size of 500 m2 and
the largest size of 3000 m2). Fruit trees were started to plant in a small number of
home gardens in early 1980s and spread widely in the village in 1990s, ahead other
villages and communes in developing garden while these places still depend on
forest extractive activities. First tree-growers brought nurseries and seedlings from
their original places, and later multiplied and distributed among villagers.

      
Photo 6.1, 6.2. Multi-layer home gardens: integrated, horticulture-oriented agroforestry systems
with combinations of pepper tree, betel nut, papaya, citrus, etc.

Today Ha An is well known for home gardens and cash fruit production in Nam
Dong district. A variety of products are found on home garden, an intensive
combination of short-cycle and perennial fruit trees and industrial crops, such as
banana, citrus (lemon, orange, pomelo), betel nut, papaya, tea, pepper, etc. The most
popular trees are high market-valued citrus trees of orange and lemon. Several
farmers manage industrial crops such as pepper under careful consideration because
of the unfavorable price decrease in export markets in the last few years. The large-
sized home garden landholders, especially the elder group, derive the biggest
agriculture income from home gardens. Of all land uses, home garden has the
highest productivity and efficiency.

Most farmers practice intensive farming in home gardens, and they apply manure,
fertilizer, insecticides. A diversity of trees has been developed through trials and
errors of farmers for adapting to upland agro-ecological conditions and driven by
market prices and demands, gardens becoming mixed. Some farmers have planned
the garden carefully after combining experience with learning from books, TV and
experience from other places while many just simply observe and learn from
neighbors. In many cases, productivity of the trees seriously declined over the years,
which explained by farmers because of life cycle, diseases, soil fertility, weather
change, etc.

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

Comparing to other land uses, home gardens have the advantage of physical
location: easy to manage and/or less inputs require (labour, fertilizer, insecticides
and irrigation). Fruit trees have highest yield and productivity. Home garden allows
close and better management and could take advantages of labour inputs from
women, elder people and children. However, the land is limited and the price of
agriculture fruit trees and industrial crops often fluctuate unfavourably.

6.1.2 Vuon doi (Hill garden)

Hill gardens locate in gently sloping upland


and mini valleys, which is past forestland
cleared and converted into agricultural land
during the historical frontier agriculture
migration in late 1970s. Prior to the 1986 Doi
Moi reform, all land belonged to the
cooperative ownership and used mainly for
cassava and other basic food crop production.
Farmers could only decide what to plant when
land was clearly allocated to households in
early 1990s.

At the beginning, hill gardens mainly used for


cassava and other food crops, and then farmers
mixed short-cycle with longer–cycle crops, both
agriculture and industrial plants. Fruit trees
started to grow in hill gardens in mid 1990s and
Photo 6.3: A hill garden: ginger became strong in 1998-1999, later than in home
under the shade of cinnamon garden. Many hill gardens are in growing
stages. Ha An villagers shifted to invest in hill
gardens with high market value trees,
while farmers in other places still keep
mono-cropping, short cycle plantation
practices.

Better-planned and technical-applied


agroforestry systems are practiced in
hill gardens: food and industrial crops
under shade trees or agriculture crops
inter-cropped with fruit trees. Such as:
ginger with cinnamon, fruit trees;
potatoes, chilly inter-crop with citrus, Photo 6.4: A young hill garden in a mini-valley –
bananas; bamboos are planted as a combination of citrus trees and short cycle crops
fence, etc. of ginger, potatoes, chillies

Overall, as noted by villagers, the productivity of plantation in hill gardens is not


high, yields and quality are often lower than in home gardens and trees are more
susceptible to diseases and pests. The cultivation land is very fragmented and far
from residential areas. Depending on each plot’s location, some hill garden can be
dry and sloping. Land is vulnerable to seasonal big rains and floods, where soil is

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

easily eroded, even agricultural crops could be flowed away with big streams while
farmers are not able to travel to the hill land areas during bad weather. It requires
more time, labour and inputs for manage hill garden: weeding, fertilizing,
ploughing, irrigation, planting and harvesting. Farmers could use only buffalo to
transport large bulks of inputs and outputs. Although soil erosion reduces as a result
of the increase in forest cover, but villagers noted that they need to put more and
more chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and manure.

Although hill gardens have more disadvantages and difficulties than home garden,
but the bigger land capacity drives farmers, especially the middle-aged group to
invest intensively. Fruit tree-based hill gardens supply the major income source to
populous family and farmers at the age of 40-50, changing the role of land as mono-
culture agriculture subsistence farming to diverse plantation commercial farming.

Photo 6.5, 6.6: Land uses in Ha An (on the left) and other village (on the right) in Nam Dong

Multi-layer garden in foothill and small sloping Mono-culture agriculture or fallow land in
upland mini-valey

6.1.3 Vuon rung (Forest Garden)

Most forest plantations in Ha An and Nam Dong were established under


government-sponsored afforestation programs. There were PAM (Programme
Alimentaire Mondial) - with support of the World Food Program before 1990s and
the reforestation program PR-327 in 1993-1996 to “re-green” barren hills with species
like wood-oil tree, eucalyptus and acacia, rubber and native trees (Tarrietia javannica
Kost, Litsea glutinosa,...). Farmers received seedlings, other inputs and rice or money
from these programs, many thought that they were hired to plant trees. Interviews
and several reports discussed about the situation when villagers threw away
seedlings, or grew trees in gently sloping areas that should have been used for crop
production (Bui Dung The, 2001; HUAFa, 2003).

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

Until now, many plantation forests developed not efficiently or become


miscellaneous forests (Photo 6.7, 6.8). Native trees have good growth, but there is
some other species not suitable to bio-physical conditions such as eucalyptus.
Agroforestry models (intercropping with agriculture/industrial crops under forest
canopy, taugya system, mixed trees with crops prior to canopy closure,...) was not
applied yet. Farmers lack technical knowledge of AF.
Photo 6.7, 6.8: Forest gardens in Ha An

Forest garden under PR-327 – Acacia planted in 1996 without proper tending and management. Now villagers
are weeding and preparing the land to re-plant acacia

Since the year 2001-2002, some farmers in Ha An started to receive money from
selling acacia and rubber tree latex. Villagers now realize that they should have
joined afforestation programs and should have put more efforts in forest gardens.
There are still some constrains in physical location and harvesting regulations.
However, the visible economic benefits, which are improving the lives of many
people in Huong Phu commune and Nam Dong district, are driving farmers to
invest in forest gardens. Besides, recent regulations on natural and plantation
forestland management and Red Book Certificates provide upland people with clear
incentives for plant and enrich forests. Apart from the private household-level
allocated land (33,3 ha plantation forests; 14 ha rubber and 118 ha natural forests), Ha
An villagers are interested in participating the co-management of 195 ha natural
forests with Hue Agriculture and Forestry University (HUAF) and Huong Phu
People Committee.

Many plantation hills are cleared for a new generation of acacia. And villagers are
competing to apply for rubber plantation land, which used to be wood-oil tree
plantation land.

Table 6.1 presents the characteristics of different land uses in Ha An, home garden,
hill garden and forest garden. It summarizes the history, level of development and
the strong and weak points in each type of land use.

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

Table 6.1 Characteristics of different land uses (Source: Field survey 2004)

AF systems: Home garden Hill garden Forest garden


Size - 800m2/household - 1885 m2/household, - Total of 14 ha rubber, 33.3 ha
including land allocated plantation forest, 118.2 ha natural
from past cooperative’s forest allocated to a number of
land cultivated and land households. And current 195 ha
self-cultivated natural forest co-managed with
HUAF and Huong Phu
commune.
Trees - Fruit trees mixed - Fruit trees mixed with - Acacia, rubber, native trees
with industrial crops food crop and industrial - Farmers are interested in
- Farmers are crops planting acacia, rubber
interested in - Farmers are interested in
planting citrus trees planting citrus trees

Livestock - Pigs, poultry, dogs, - Buffalos - Buffalos, goats


buffalos
History - Longest history for - In the past, mainly used - Past barren hills and fallow areas
fruit trees plantation, for food crops, and then with high slope were reforested
some started after mixed with longer cycle under government programme,
1975. Most crops and commercial such as PR-327 and PAM in 1993-
developed in 1996 trees after 1986. Fruit 1996.
trees gardens started - Since 2001-2002, farmers have
strongly in late 1990s. been interested in planting in
forestland
Level of - Very-well developed - Better- planned and - Poorly-managed.
development - Diverse and technical application. - Lack of technical AF integration
miscellaneous models
plants, trees - Farmers start to re-plant forest
- Many trees reduced trees.
productivity because
of diseases, life-
cycle, weather
change, soil fertility

Advantages: - Highest productivity - Larger land capacity. - Easy to plant


Why farmers - Easy to manage, and - Large areas
adopt this land transport - Not require a lot of labour
use? - Require less labour - Have potential for expansion
and less investment and high profitability

Disadvantages: - Small landholding - Lower productivity. - Difficulties in physical places:


Why farmers not size Vulnerable to big rains, far, difficult and costly to
adopt this land - Price fluctuates soil erosion. transport
use? - Located in different - Trimming and cutting must
places. Difficult to follow strict and rigid
transport regulations: difficult to harvest
- Hard to manage: - Unclear land and tree
distance, bad weather, ownerships and lack of
wild animals destroy incentives for forest plantation in
the past

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

6.2 Market and development analysis for AF products


“Market is the most difficult math in improving the life of farmers in Vietnam”
(Interview with development workers, 2004)

“We planted ginger to sell to the cooperative which then exported to former Soviet
Union. Then we stopped planting it when the Soviet Union broke up. Now we
planted it again because the price increases and there is contract farming with a
company” (Interview with local people, 2004)

The findings of AF products in Ha An village and also the market and development
characteristics of crops/trees in Nam Dong are illustrated in Table 6.2: History of tree
in Ha An and Appendix 4: List of the trees in Ha an: what encourage and discourages
farmer to plant and Appendix 5: Prices for AF products in Nam Dong. There is a very
high level of diversity in number of crops and trees, especially started from 1990-
1995, and also almost every tree has experienced a lot of changes and fluctuations in
its history of plantation.

Table 6.2 History of tree-planting in Ha An since 1975


(Source: Field survey 2004)
Interpretation There is Start and Plant Become Become Plantation
of colors: no plant on widely one among mainstream reduces
plantation small main trees trees/crops
scale

1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 – now


The main production
Cassava,
and main food crops Inter-cropping with other perennial trees/crops, domestically
corns,
for the cooperative used for household and animals
potatoes
and for familly’s use
1985: the main
Bananas
cash-generating Since 1992, reduced plantation. The disease
Started
fruits started to attack

1996-97: price
2003: price
Planted peaked at 8-
Lemons Started decreased
widely 9,000/kg. Highest
rapidly
profitable.
98: become main
1995:
Started cash fruit tree.
Oranges planted
Income and market
widely
are stable.

Betel nuts Started

1976-77: started. the commune even


Supplied to the 1997. encouraged farmers to
Pineapples district pineapple 98 cut rubber and plant
cooperative pineapple instead.
80-85: started. 1992-1995: reduced tea
Supplied to the plantation and grew
Tea
district tea rubber from PR-327
cooperative instead. The

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

(changed name cooperative latter


from pineapple become Rubber
after getting loss) Company
1995: grew
strongly.
Pepper
Supported by
the district.

94, 95: grew


Coffee
coffee

1983-84:
planted in
2003 contract
1-2 years,
farming with
just for the
Ginger the Salt
export to
production
former
company
Soviet
Union
1986:
Planted
Wood-oil 2003: being
with
tree cut down
support of
PAM – WFP
1993-96: wide scale rubber 2002-2003:
plantation with loans in PR- widen rubber
Rubber 327 area, planting
on the land of
wood-oil tree.
1993-96: funded by PR- 327
Eucalyptus
Farmers are
interested to
Acacia 1993-96: funded by PR- 327
invest in
acacia
Farmers are
1993-96: funded by PR- 327
Native trees interested in
(huynh, tro, uoi, boi loi)
native trees

Bamboo for 2002: BMNP’s


chips AF project
2002: BMNP’s
AF project.
Agarwood Farmers are
interested to
invest
Coconut
Mandarin Trials of new trees/crops by both
Mango farmers and projects from the
Rambuttan district
Longan, etc.

1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 – now

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

Farmers are practicing market-oriented farming in AF systems in Ha An. They grow


fewer subsistence crops and more cash crops. Apart from the concern about land
tenure, one of the most critical factors for farmers to make plantation decision is the
price and demand for AF products. This section will look at marketing aspects of
dominant AF products in Ha An: fruits, industrial crops and forest trees, and how
they influence farmers to plant, cut and re-plant the trees.

Food crops, such as cassava, rice, peanuts, potatoes, which play a minor role in
household economy now, will not be discussed. The reasons for farmers to plant
food crops are mainly for the consumption of households or animals, and to make
full use of land use systems. In history of the village and households, these food
crops were the main agriculture production during collectivization period in 1970s
and 1980s and then gradually giving the major role to other alternative cash
trees/plants since early 1990s.

6.2.1 Fruit trees

Asking farmers about the strengths of the agricultural products, mainly fruits, they
share their agreements on the low intensity of agro-chemical inputs on the trees,
fruits being considered very safe and easy to sell. Pesticides and more fertilizers
could be put on the trees and land to improve the appearance and quality of the
fruits like other places (i.e the big size and polished skin of citrus). However it will
increase cost and reduce profits of households, so farmers’ preferences are not to
invest largely in chemical inputs. In recent years, a major constraint has been a
number of fungus and insect-born diseases which are very difficult to control and
affect badly the growth and productivity
of several trees such as bananas, citrus.
The main fruit trees planted now are
oranges, while in the past farmers
invested mainly in bananas and lemons.
Several villagers are trying new trees of
mangos, grape-fruits, rambutans, etc. but
the productivity and marketability have
yet to be satisfactory.

Most popular fruit trees are spontaneous


development within the village, which
farmers brought from other places and
tried to grow and propagate on their
gardens. Villagers have also received a lot
of nurseries, new crops and trees from
different agriculture development
projects/programs, but in most case, they
Photo 6.9 An early morning fruits market did not grow well, either not suitable to
the bio-physical conditions, or the quality
of nurseries and the products are not good
enough. According to farmers, only recent trees (oranges, bamboo for chip, etc) from
the agroforestry project run by BM NP grow well and have good products.

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

At the moment, there are hundreds of gardens developing and being supported in
most of communes in Nam Dong, however, many Ha An villagers keep their doubts
about the potential garden growth in these neighboring areas. They are familiar with
plantation projects failures and ineffectiveness, especially with local ethnic minority
people. Being one of the very few village producing most commercial fruits In Nam
Dong District, many Ha An villagers discussed that they are not scared of the
competition from inside Nam Dong, but from outside Nam Dong, especially many
other agricultural lowlands.

Box 6.1: A rapid survey on fruits market transaction and middlemen

The majority of the middle men come from outside (70-75%), the number up to 50 in the
last two year during peak times, and this year the average number is around 30, bottom at
10. Middlemen are often not specialized in one product, they buy anything sold in the
market, depending on agricultural products seasons. Most of them are from other
neighboring rural districts of Thua Thien Hue (such as the district Phu Vang, Phu Loc),
where are main retail consumption markets for fruits from Nam Dong. A year with
lemons, for example, a normal middleman could buy 22 ton, or 200 kg on average per
each transaction. With oranges, the respective numbers are 25 tons and 350 kg. They
usually collect buying in early morning in the town market, and then travel out of Nam
Dong to deliver the products by the morning bus. Their business has been run for around
5 to 10 years.

One third of the middlemen come from Nam Dong: Ha An village (4-5 women in Ha An)
or other communes. They sell their own family’s fruits, go to collect fruits and agricultural
products from other farms and in the market of Khe Tre town. They had a long history of
trading in agricultural products: around 10-15 years, since the day their family planted the
fruit, or most of them find the niche market for Ha An products in their original home
villages.

The main daily transportation vehicle for people, good and services is 2 public buses.
Sometimes, small trucks are used to transport fruits to other central provinces or to the
north of Vietnam, some fruit-collectors buying in bulks from both middlemen and local
gardens in Ha An and other villages in Nam Dong. However, such bulky demands are
not regular or local people could not expect exactly when they go to Nam Dong. They
could only confirm this often happen to their place during off-season or unproductive-
harvesting season of fruits, or some processing factory is in need of higher inputs.

The middlemen complained about the small margins they gain from buying and selling,
for example only VND 200-1,000 per kilo of citrus, while the transportation cost to Nam
Dong is still higher than other rural districts.

A small visit to markets in Hue city found out that most of products from big retail shop
are from the south, and some small shops are from rural of Hue city. The sellers didn’t
know much about fruit in Nam Dong when being asked, and recommended the fruits
from the south are the most delicious.

Most of fruits are suffering from the fluctuations in prices and markets, and the
competition with lowland agriculture production. Such as in the case of lemons, Ha
An and other village in Nam Dong supplied lemons for an wide area, including the
provinces of Thua Thien Hue, Da Nang, Quang Binh, and even to the north during
off-season period. The price was often profitable, could be up to VND 5,000 per kilo.
But it reduces substantially this year in price (down to VND 500-1,000 per kilo) and

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

in the market demand for lemon in Nam Dong. The reasons maybe: many regions
start growing lemons and have good seasons. Moreover, the prices of fruits from Ha
An or Nam Dong are generally lower than those of fruits grown in the lowlands.
These are explained by the upland farming characteristics of being small scale and
mixed production, lower productivity and quality, and in market-follower’s position.
With Ha An and another village being the main fruit-growers in the district, the
overall supply and production of Nam Dong is in a fragmented scope.

Fruits are mainly consumed in the countryside of Thua Thien Hue provinces and
some nearby rural vicinity. Villagers sell fruits wholesales to middlemen in their own
gardens, often in case prices are on increase or in the town market when prices are on
decrease to get differential. According to the perceptions of villagers, both male and
female, the prices traded with middlemen are reasonable and reflects the market
price (Box 6.1).

Although most of fruit products are market followers, there are a few products
described as local specialties of Nam Dong, such as lemons, betel nuts. Lemons have
long history of development in Nam Dong, producing in large quantity to supply for
the central province, even are delivered seasonally to the north. Some experienced
farmers expressed their expectation about positioning some major local products
with the help for label promotion from the district authorities. The price is decreasing
now, but according to knowledgeable farmers, Nam Dong should learn form the
brand lesson: pepper, Ha Tay longan, Nam Roi grape-fruit, etc., which is still rare but
very successful examples in Vietnam.

6.2.2 Industrial crops/trees

Many industrial crops have been grown in Nam Dong, including tea, coffee,
pineapple, ginger, pepper, etc. Some started in 1980s (tea, pineapple, ginger), when
farmers planted and sold to the district agricultural cooperative, and substantially
cut down a few years later as a result of the collapse of the cooperative and of the
link to traditional markets in former Soviet Union.

Farmers grew pepper, coffee, and cinnamon strongly in the export promotion of
agricultural and industrial plants/trees in mid or late 1990s. Vietnam in the last few
years quickly becomes one of the biggest exporters in coffee, pepper and other
industrial crops. However, the participation of Vietnam in the world production of
several crops, as well as the uncontrollable increase in number of crop - producers
throughout the country repetitively create the over-supply situation. The rapid rise
in coffee plantation put Vietnam to be blame for contributing to the swell of coffee
supply and plummeting prices. For both short cycle and perennial industrial crops,
Ha An and other uplands areas in Nam Dong is the market –follower, with small –
scale production, lower productivity and often suffer from the decreasing price
tendency.

Villagers discussed about the risk and the high capital-intensive level in investing in
industrial trees. Pepper, a popular tree was sold at the good price up to 75-85,000/kg
during 1999-2001, however, the price has badly decreased down to even 10-
20,000/kg since 2002 until now. Even some crops like coffee is promoted to plant
while it is not suitable in the condition of high rainfall and humidity all year-round,

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

and the price falls down. A common and repetitive situation is that when some
agricultural product is at good price, a lot of farmers decide to plant, and then the
supply increases quickly, consequently reducing the price on the market
dramatically.

On the other hand, despite the small scale and weak competitiveness of industrial
tree production, farmers realize the benefits of diversification. “We got lost with coffee
or pepper but with a small scale. While farmers in other places are badly affected with the total
investment in only one or two major crops.” The risks are spread among a range of
products, fruit and industrial crops. When the lemon price decreases, or the incomes
of pepper get down, farmers are still able to depend on stable market of oranges,
betel nuts and other products.

Most products are sold freely to private middlemen, who later transport to some
factories or trading companies. There is only one case of ginger the farmers have
contract farming with one salt production company. Villagers compete to receive the
contract with the company, they re-planting gingers under the shade of the trees.
Most of them mentioned their expectation and preference for this type of contract
farming. Another product also has more secured market recently is betel nuts, a tree
planted widely in rural of Thua Thien Hue province. The betel nut fruits just have
new usage: not only for traditional use like chewing gum but also for making
candies. In the last 2 years, there is new demand for buying young betel fruits for
making candies. People in Huong Loc commune grow the tree mostly and also
collect betel nuts from other places like Ha An. They collect, dry and sell to
middlemen, who then transport product to the north for exporting to China. There is
no contract, but regular transactions.

The rural development efforts from the government encourage farmers to engage in
commercial and high value industrial crops plantation, however all interventions
focus mostly on production sides. Little has been done about the marketing sides.
Finding suitable seeds for this ecological zone remains an unsolvable problem. This
evidenced by the complete failure of recent attempts to develop crops such as coffee,
sugar cane and pineapple in the mountainous areas of Thua Thien Hue province
(WWF2, 2003).

6.2.3 Forest trees3

Most of forest trees related to development or conservation projects/programs or


interventions of the government and NGOs. Findings and analysis in forest gardens
has shown the history and characteristics of planting forest trees in Ha An village: a
poor development and management until 2001 and a strong interests in forest
plantation in the last 3 years. Reasons for poor participation in forest plantation, as
discussed by farmers, are: unclear land and tree tenure, most of PR-327’s
beneficiaries thought that they planted trees for the park; un-clear or un-foreseen
market opportunities in the past when the extension, market, infrastructure services
were very poor; immediate demands to fulfill for reducing hunger and poverty
within households, pushing farmers to find short cycle crops and visible income-

3
In this research, forest trees are timber trees, rubber trees, medicinal plants which come from the
forest

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

generating activities, etc (Box 6.2). With current clear forestland allocation, the
marketability and the availability of demand for forest products are the main factors
influence farmers’ investment decision.

The level of diversity of forest trees is low, generally monoculture plantation or the
natural forest are still poor. Acacia is the most favorite tree for plantation, because of
easy and quick growth, lower investment, and simple technique to integrate other
short cycle crops. Farmers believed the demand for materials of paper pulp factory is
stable, with the total investment in one hectare acacia of VND 5 million, a farmer
could get VND35 million after 7 years. However, there is little analysis about the
future market and price of acacia or other forest trees, villagers simply following the
current price tendency and imitate neighbors to invest in acacia. At least, the past
“barren hills”, the unproductive and less favored, sloping areas are becoming
profitable while bringing environmental benefits to upland farmers.

Box 6.2: Why are farmers not interested in planting forest trees?

The natural forests have not been adequately protected and exploited in an efficient
manner while the proportion of planted forest remains small and farmers are not
interested in investing in forestry. Major difficulties that constrain investment in
plantation forestry include:
• Government policies do not encourage establishment of plantations, major
impediments being
- high tax rate
- short term of land tenure
- difficulties obtaining loans due to the collateral requirements and the shortage of
long-term loan finance
- lack of investment in the infrastructure for planting forest
- low investment in research
• The nature of forest production discourages plantation establishment, because
forestry has:
- long payback period
- high logging and transportation costs due to lack of roading infrastructure
• Deficiencies in markets for forest products :
- Unstable market caused by monopsonistic wood processing companies and
unplanned harvesting of plantation forest
- Low stumpage price received by tree growers
- Government support to the processing industry does not assist farmers due to the
monopsonistic nature of the processing industry.

(Source: ICARD, 2004)

Besides acacia, villagers are eager to try new high value and native trees, such as
Tram Huong agarwood (Aquilaria Crassna Pierr) and medicinal plants (Table 6.3).
The high value and the marketability of these trees attract villagers and farmers in
many places. A number of projects and organizations are supporting local people
with nurseries, study tours, linkages with buyers. A nursery garden is being set up,
which is used for experimental trees and the nursery supply for villagers. However,
as discussed by local people and extension staff, there are still unclear information
and analysis about demand and linkages with market for those products, so farmers’
opinions and interests vary.

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

There is a big investment and promotion on rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) plantation,


turning rubber into the mainstream product of Nam Dong. Rubber tree was
originated from PR-327, and now with support from The Agricultural Diversification
Project (mainly funded by World Bank), farmers receiving loans for plantation and
maintenance until the latex is collected. Up to now, Nam Dong has a total area of
1,880 ha for rubber plantation or 91,6% of the whole plantation land for perennial
industrial trees/crops (tea, coffee, pepper, betel nut, rubber) (Nam Dong SO, 2004,).
The rubber tree area is 14 ha in Ha An. Local people call it “white gold” when the
household’s incomes increasing largely thanks to the rubber latex, building a
successful example of Nam Dong where many poverty-striking farmers are able to
develop stable lives. It is estimated that, the total investment for one-hectare rubber
until the harvesting time in around 7 years is VND 19-21 million, farmer could collect
latex for the earnings of more than VND 10 million per year continuously until the
tree reaches 30 years. The demand for natural rubber and the rise in oil price make a
stable and clear prospect for rubber tree. However, many farmers prefer acacia to
rubber and other trees, because rubber is the most capital-intensive tree.

So far, after many plantation projects, there have been only a small number of trees
remaining successful: rubber, acacia, and bamboo for chips, which could grow well
and bring cash for farmers. Farmer did not discussed about the differences between
farm gate price and the price middlemen sell to the processing company. Generally,
they thought that the prices are reasonable and fluctuates according to the market
prices. There is only one case about the trading of rubber: farmers are allowed to sell
to any buyers, however the district give the whole monopoly purchasing permission
to rubber company, who buys rubber at lower price than private middlemen outside
the district.

6.3 Evaluation of AF systems, products and benefits


6.3.1 Evaluation of AF systems and products

The analysis about different AF systems and AF products has shown the
characteristics of AF development in Ha An, as well as the preferences of farmers in
planting trees. Based on the above findings, the observation and discussions with
key informants, extension workers and other researchers, the development of AF
systems and products in Ha An village is evaluated as follows:
- Villagers are good at farm-based AF- putting perennial trees on the farm,
which they have tried with many food, industrial crops and fruit trees, and
shared inputs, experience among themselves in the last two decades. They are
not good at forest-based AF, which they once cut down many natural forests
and exploited non-timber forest products for early livelihoods, and then re-
green the degraded hills in some forest plantation programs and now are
starting to invest. Home and hill gardens have developed well with a similar
level in the whole village; farmers have experience and very enthusiastic to
share inputs and knowledge.

- The main characteristics are diversity in number of trees and crops. Farmers
in Ha An or in Nam Dong are market followers, with small-scale and mixed-

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cropping production. The productivity is not high and the quality is on


average while there are a lot of fluctuations on the market and prices.

- There have been many trials and errors with fruit trees, industrial crops in the
last 2 decades and with forest trees in the last decade. Today, the favorite
trees to plant are citrus, acacia, rubber and a number of high value and highly
marketable forest trees (Table 6.3).

Table 6.3: Villagers’ preferences for trees (Source: Field survey 2004, from a
focus group discussion carried out for Tropenbos’s AF project)
Plant fuel wood trees: Acacia (Keo tai tuong Acacia mangium)

Plant fruit trees: Citrus: oranges (cam sai gon, cam voi, cam chap)
Banana
Mangos
High value trees Do bau Agarwood (Aquilaria Crassna Pierr)
Plant rattan Rattan
Enrich acacia with natives Sen Madhuca pasquieri H.J.Lam.
Dau rai: Dipterocarpus alatus Roxb.
Cho chi: Parashorea chinensis Wang Hsie

Plant bamboo For chips


For shoots
For construction: (Lo o) Bambusa procera A. Chev.
Et. A. Cam

- Most of successful trees have been spontaneously tried and developed by


local villagers themselves. Several fruit, industrial crops and timber trees
(mandarin, coffee, pepper, acacia, eucalyptus...), which were promoted by the
outsiders (the district, the park, etc.), failed to grow well.

- There is still no true forest-based AF system in Ha An, as the local people


noted. Villagers are lacking technical knowledge and experience in
developing integrated AF systems on natural and plantation forests. Local
people are eager to adopt forest-based AF and attracted by the economic
benefits and the marketability of timber and non-timber products.
- There is a move from tree on the farm to farm in the forest – in other words, a
move of interests from home garden to hill garden, and then recently forest
garden, as a result of changes in land tenure, of marketability of AF products,
and of the population and economic pressure.

6.3.2 Farmers’ perceptions of AF benefits

Perceptions of farmers based on their comparisons of the present to the past, of their
situation to that of the neighboring and different places they know. People
mentioned their lives changed positively in the last 10 years, get improved largely
since 2000, 2001 and the growth become slowly with agricultural products’ price
fluctuations in the last 2-3 years. Villagers did not express that they are rich or poor
now, but they mentioned their lives become better and more stable. The popular
responses from the perceptions of change over the past in the village are: have

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

regular cash incomes from fruit products; stop forest-dependant livelihoods; get out
of hunger situation; fewer poor households in the village; have money to buy TV,
motorbikes; could sell and buy more things in the market; children get higher
education; good access to roads, electricity, and more supporting services of the
government; extension services improved; forest cover increases and less landslides
and soil erosion, etc.

Villagers as well as commune officers recognize the role of home garden and hill
garden in changing households and village’s lives. The biggest economic benefit is
the shift from difficult and unstable forest-dependant activities to secured garden-
based livelihoods. Local people mentioned there were very few illegal forest
exploitation activities. And, at the same time of my survey, it was found out by one
student from ITC (International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth
Observation), who was researching NTFP exploitation activities of buffer zone
people in Nam Dong district, that there are fewest cases of villagers in Ha An
collecting forest products. In present days, farmers noted that the diversity of
farming, of trees and crops products helps them to reduce risks and shocks from the
fluctuation of market prices, which badly affects bigger scale farmers in many places
throughout Vietnam.

The most important result of current AF practices, as many villagers discussed, is the
significant increase in education level of their children with more educated young
people. Key persons and old-aged groups stressed on the result of education while
the younger groups stressed on both education and stable life. People also discussed
about the better care for children and the reduction of heavy workload for women in
Ha An. In young families, when the husband is busy with non-farm and off-farm
livelihoods, the wife participates more actively and independently in farming
decision-making.

On ecological benefits, villagers realized the improved local environmental quality


and better soil erosion management services of the increased cover of forest and
perennial trees on fragile upland areas since late 1990s, in comparison to the serious
degradation before. There are fewer risks of flood damage and landslides during
rainy season. The level of environmental awareness of AF and natural forest
protection is high among farmers.

With forest gardens, villagers now perceive the high potential of this AF system,
especially the clear socio-economic values of forest trees. In their livelihood portfolio:
Home garden + hill garden = daily expenses; and Forest garden = saving + long-term
investment. Forest garden provides a good prospect for diversifying incomes,
contributing to a more robust and sustainable economy in the coming future. In the
meantime, current AF practices meet the daily needs of household, supporting a
long-term investment in forest plantation. Asking farmers of different ages about
what they will do if they have more access to land (forest land) or capital, the
feedback is very homogenous: most of them discussed about the plan to invest in
forest tree plantation, especially in acacia, only a small replies mentioned about
rubber tree because of its high capital requirement.

Besides, there are concerns of villagers about land constrains as well as difference in
landholding size, which could contribute to the income disparity among villagers in
the future. One month after my fieldwork time, I received the news about local

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Chapter 6. Agroforestry systems

people in Nam Dong in another buffer zone commune illegally clearing a large area
of natural forest of Bach Ma National Park to plant acacia (DED, 2004).

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Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods

Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable


livelihoods

Think of community as a river which flows on and on. It has flowed for generations,
and will continue to flow. As outsiders, we enter the flow of the river (community) at
a certain point, and exit at another point. Hopefully, we leave something positive and
lasting with the community. That is sustainable development!
(Davis-Case, 1990)

The previous chapters have described the assets and livelihoods of Ha An village, the
history of development of AF, and the preferences of villagers for planting trees to
ensure their sustainable livelihoods. Throughout the above findings and analysis,
there are elements of institutions, policies, projects, programs and organizations,
which affect the access to and the effectiveness of livelihood assets, activities and
processes in the village. The changes in plantations, in farmers’ preferences for crops
and trees have also reflected the influences of different policies, projects, programs
and institutions. This chapter will discuss these institutional factors solely,
addressing the questions: What and how have institutional environments and
arrangements enabled local people to achieve sustainable, secure livelihoods, when
others fail? Can institutions make a better change? And also, to draw the lessons
from the intervention experience localized in Ha An, questions often asked in the
survey were: which projects, programs or organizations do local people like?

The chapter discusses first the profile of main institutions, and then evaluates the
perceived influences of them to the development of sustainable livelihoods. I do not
aim to cover every single policy, program and institution which have been taking
place in uplands, but select the ones with strong effects on rural livelihoods, and
particularly on agroforestry in the study site, according to the farmers’ perceptions
and the opinions of different key informants, development workers and consultants.
Analysis and discussions in this chapter and then chapter 8 are built upon the case
study in Ha An, combining with the rich perspectives of a number of NGOs,
development and conservation professions, literature study and my own working
experience and observation in a number of protected areas in Vietnam.

Elements of institutional environments described throughout the thesis are policies,


strategies and programs on socio-economic development and natural resource
management, which either focus specifically to the uplands or apply nation-wide
(Appendix 6). For institution arrangements, the chapter will discuss the local groups,
organizations, institutions and different projects and programs, which have been
implemented in the village and have influences on households’ livelihoods and
agroforestry practices. Formal institutions (such as by-laws, national laws, policies,
the national constitution, and international laws and treaties) are clearly part of the
institutional environment and distinct from institutional arrangements (Morrison,
2000). The distinction may not always be so clear, however, for informal institutions
or some development programs, which are particular institutional arrangements,
and also they become part of the institutional environment.

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Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods

7.1 Profiles of institutions


7.1.1 Profiles of policies, projects and programs

Since the early days moving to the land of Ha An village, passing the days
depending on natural forests to a brighter time of garden-based livelihoods, there are
a large number of policies, strategies closely related to farmers, to the changes in
their living history (Appendix 6). These either have strong effects on “rules of the
game” or influence the management structure of different local organizations, either
apply in a national-wide scale or specifically for the mountainous areas (Chapter 4:
4.1, 4.2).

Table 7.1: Projects/programme administered by communal office


in Huong Phu since 2000
(Source: Huong Phu commune data, 2004 and field survey 2004)
Name of projects/program Amount of funding
(million VND)
PR-135 (receive VND 500 million peryear) 1,600
Diversification agriculture project funded by 1,880
World Bank
Ta Trach reservoir project 9,700
Integrated rural development project by Bread 800
for the World
The Settled agriculture and resettlement 200
project
SNV 100
Forestry development funded by the province 150

A number of government policies dealing in one way or other with highlands were
issued from the early to mid-1990s (Binh T. Nguyen, 1998). Some of the most notable
ones in the institutional environment are: the Land-use policies and forest land
allocation program (usually referred to as Land Allocation Program); National
Program on Restoration of Barren Lands and Denuded Hills (PR-327); Biodiversity
Action Plan; Agriculture and Forestry Extension Policy; Science and Technology
Policy; Programmes on subsidizing product prices, costs and consumption; and
Programme on socio-economic development for communes in extreme difficulty in
mountainous and remote areas (PR-133 and PR-135) (Binh T. Nguyen, 1998; WWF2
and WWF3, 2003) (Appendix 6).

To realize and implement those policies and strategies, there are a number of
projects, programs on poverty alleviation, rural development and natural resource
management: “From now to the 2000, active and steady measures should be taken to
achieve the three main targets of eradicating hunger, alleviating poverty and
stabilizing and improving the living conditions and the health of people of ethnic
minorities as well as of inhabitants in mountain and border areas” (Development
Orientations in Key fields, a document of the VIIIth national Party Congress of
Vietnam in 1996, cited in Ikemoto, 2001). These have influenced the access to
different assets, capital and decisions over development pathways of households.

Tables 7.1 and 7.2 describe the profile of programs and projects localized in Huong
Phu Commune and Ha An village:

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Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods

Table 7.2: Profiles of the current projects, programs in Ha An


(Source: Field survey, 2004)
Description (number of
PROGRAM, PROJECT Forms of support
beneficiaries, time)
Forest co-management 14 household, started in Receive 195 ha forest land to
project with HUAF 2004 plant and enrich forest at
household benefits
Af plantation project by 21 households, started Received fertiliser and
National Park 2002 nurseries: bamboo for chips,
agarwood, oranges
Medicinal planting project 20 households, started in Training, nurseries and
(funded by IUCN-NTFP 2004 money for planting and
project, implemented by prepare land (1,9 ha)
HUAF)
Contract farming: Ginger 20 ha for the whole Contract farming (contracted
(nghe) planting commune: each village 2 with Salt company, which
ha was facilitated by Extension
14 households, started in Center)
2003
PR-327 22 households, started in Land, nurseries and money
1993-1996 for plantation or forest
protection. (Red book land
use certificates for 33,3 ha
plantation forests; 14 ha
rubber and 118 ha natural
forests)
Natural forest protection 7 households, started in Money for forest protection
programs mid 1990s (about VND 50,000 per
hectare per year) and forest
products – unclearly defined
SNV’s forestry project - Forestland holders - Red Book Certificates
receive Red Book
certificates
- support 1 household in -VND 9 millions for inputs
Ha An for developing and labour cost
Agroforestry model
The irrigation project One irrigation work for Money: VND25 million from
supported by DED, the hilly farm DED, 5 million form the
facilitated by BMNP commune, 5 million from the
village
PR-135 and some other Nurseries and fertilizer
district plantation
programs

Other projects: NAV’s and BFTW’s credit programs managed by Women union,
Tropenbos’s AF project and projects providing public and toll goods (irrigation, road,
medical care...), including the above list from Huong Phu commune

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Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods

7.1.2 Profile of local organizations and other institutional


arrangements

To develop and implement those specific institutional arrangements, there are the
following actors and organizations (Figure 7.1):

Local authorities (Communist party, People’s Council, People Committees) are the
bodies in charge of all decisions, planning, budgeting and managing related directly
to households. Administrative structure is implemented on principle of Party
leadership, People’s mastery and State management (HUAF and IDRC, 2002). A
district is made up of communes, the lowest administrative level. Every commune
consists of a number of villages, with a village head as the main responsible (Nguyen
Duy Khiem, 1993). The district and commune level authorities also appoint village
leaders, although village leaders do not receive a salary, but a small remuneration.

A number of district-level organizations take responsibilities for specific technical


tasks: District FPD for forest management, forestland allocation and forest protection
enforcement; District Department of Agriculture and Rural development with no
organization body in commune level carrying out state management tasks in the
field of Agriculture, Forestry, Irrigation, Fire control; The Agriculture Extension
Center developing village extension networks in the district of Nam Dong, providing
guidance to farmers on implementing the cultivation technique of crop, livestock and
bio-forestry, etc. (Mulder, 2004)

Mass organisations (Women’s Union, the Farmer’s Union and the Youth Union) are
state-controlled bodies that provide social and economic services to their members.
They are represented at all administrative levels: national, provincial, district and

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Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods

commune, and reach thousands of people at the grassroots level. They have direct
access to communities and long experience in social mobilisation, representing the
rights and interests of the members (women, farmers, youths, etc.) but they are not
necessarily active in every village (Vietnam, 2005). Recently, there is one agroforestry
club set up in Ha An for interested farmers, becoming one among 3 clubs in Nam
Dong.

BMNP authority working under the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development
is responsible for the management of the park boundary, main activities include:
Protection of flora and fauna; Eco-tourism; Environmental education; Community
development. The management board has established good working relations with
local authorities in buffer zone communes and attempts to take a lead in delivering
socio-economic programmes to the buffer zone communities (Gilmour, 1999)

Apart from these administrative organizations, there are also a certain number of
government organizations (Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry) and non-
government organizations (SNV, NAV, BFTW, Tropenbos, etc.) and business actors
(Banks, Rubber company, etc.). Most development interventions work with and
through two or more than two of local organisations, taking good advantage of the
decision-making power and the ability to reach out to target groups effectively and
efficiently.

7.1.3 Participation of Ha An villagers in development and


conservation projects/programs

The participation in different projects and programs is to bring benefits of land,


skills, finance, and access to natural resources... to farmers. It helps farmers to
increase different types of
35 32
assets and change
No of households

livelihoods activities and 30

strategies. 25

20
Apart from a number of
15 13
project providing public 12
10
and common goods to 10
almost every villagers 3
5
(irrigation, infrastructure,
etc.), the participation in 0

the remaining access to access to 5 access to 3-4 access to 2 access to 0-1


more than 5 projects projects projects project
projects/programs projects
concentrates on a number
of households (Figure). Figure 7.2: The participation of villagers in projects and
There are 26 households programs in Ha An (Source: Field survey, 2004)
having access to 3 and
more projects/programs, while more than 40 households participating in less than 2
projects/programs. The less active group includes households whose agriculture is
not the main income contribution, such as young households, women-headed
household, etc. The active group is agriculture- or gardening-dependant households,
such as middle-aged group. Findings from interviewed households show that one

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Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods

household in young group participates averagely 0.4 projects/programs, in middle-


aged group: 3.1 and in old group: 2.1 projects/programs (Figure 7.2).

In general, the better-off households are having more chances to participate, because
they possess more skills and capability to follow successfully. And local people
perceived that the poorer families in the community are lacking these criteria, they
have little land, lack of labour or women-headed, and they are not capable enough.
There are some certain types of assistance for these households, from the village as
well as the commune.

Among development interventions, land-related projects are most confusing, which


resulted from the slow and unclear forest land allocation. In many informal
conversations, villagers mentioned that the majority of the allocated forestlands in
Ha An are hold by a number of old, new commune officers.

7.2 Perceptions of the role of institutions in household


livelihoods
“As development experience accumulated, it became evident that policies and
institutions matter more than public investment. In turn, the requirements of a new
development agenda emphasizing social, environmental, and institutional concerns
led to gradual changes in the very conception of what constitutes a project.
Increasingly, projects came to be viewed as policy experiments and as instruments of
institutional reform”. (Picciotto, 1995)

From the profiles of projects and programs in Ha An, the list could be categorised
into two types of projects/programs: (1) projects as one institutional arrangements
set up under large scale policies, strategies and programs, which implement in
national-wide or on provincial scale, which are funded by national budget or loans
from international organizations; (2) projects designed specifically for the community
in the study site, in village, commune or district levels, which are facilitated by
international NGO or research institutions.

7.2.1 Policies, strategies on socio-economic development

When talking about major policies relating to the changes of their lives, local people
refer mostly about the reform doi moi 1986 and the recent strong socio-economic
policies and programs targeting the upland areas, and also the change in forest
management and forestland ownership.

To their knowledge and experience, “The life only started to be better when the Party
Secretary Nguyen Van Linh implemented Doi Moi. My familly got the right to use the land
and to develop farming at our own decision”. The gains had been associated with the
distribution of agricultural land to rural households, in a context where economic
reform provided the right incentives for increased farm production (WB, 2004).

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Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods

However the uplands remain very backward and less favoured areas, both in nature
and human compared to the rapid development of the lowlands of Vietnam. In Nam
Dong, only from 1999-2000 up to now, the recent policies, programs targeting in
upland development, especially the large investment of government on
infrastructure and public services, have promoted the positive change in their
mountainous, remote areas. Even many villagers, to their understanding, expressed
that: “thanks to the serious flood in 1999, the government started to care and invest in road,
electricity, telephone and other public services for this remote place”

Ha An took advantages of these enabling factors, getting better access to key assets,
market and extension services for commercial tree plantations. Goods and services
are available to sell and buy inside and outside the district of Nam Dong. The
transaction costs reduces substantially and enhances more productive opportunities
of rural households, especially in facilitating the spontaneous adoption of fruit tree
development and showing the marketability of forestry products. The gains in this
time are the increased integration of agriculture - forestry in the market economy
(WB, 2004). However, it is necessary to note that several areas in Nam Dong are still
not so easily accessible as Ha An, not to mention many mountainous villages
elsewhere in Vietnam could only be reached on foot.

7.2.2 PR-133 and PR-135, programme for the most Difficult and
Remote Communes and other upland development interventions

In that context, the commune of Huong Phu finished its PR-135 in 2004, getting out
of the list “the most Difficult and Remote Communes” one year earlier than the
planned deadline, and this successful story is broadcasted widely in central and local
news. However, during informal talks with many villagers and officers, many
mentioned that Huong Phu communes and the villages belong benefited this
program mainly because they have a number of ethnic minority people living in one
village. In fact, many villages in Huong Phu were not in extreme difficulties. There
are poor and non-poor villages in one commune, and there are poor-households and
non-poor households in one community. The better-off households often get more
chances to participate in any intervention (Figure 7.2), while many poorest of the
poor in one community were not targeted. On the other hand, many people are
concerned when PR-135 finishes because they will not likely to receive supports for
education, communication, health care, service fees, agriculture and infrastructure
investment.

PR-135, 133, and a range of social-economic development interventions from the


central government targeting in upland development have proven to bring socio-
economic benefits to rural lives, and in case of Ha An, favourable conditions are
being created for the development of tree plantation, bringing along ecological
benefits. However there are still a lot of constraints with the institutional
arrangements of these programs and interventions. Many critics were discussed
among local people or from key informants about: the ineffectiveness and low
quality of the implementation and management of activities on the field
(infrastructure building – Box 7.1); the decisions were made top-down, lacking
consultation with local people; social inequity in sharing forms of support or
“subsidies” from interventions; many “model” of livelihoods activities (plantation,

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Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods

livestock raising) have been introduced but not successful or locally appropriate for
farmers to follow; lack of support for selling products...
Box 7.1: A tale of two irrigation works

Photo 7.1: Irrigation work funded under PR- Photo 7.2: Irrigation work supported by
135 – using more than VND90 million to build DED (VND 25 million) and partly funded
an irrigation system, which is managed by the by the commune (VND 5million) and
commune. However the designer and workers villagers contributed by labour (equal to
outside constructed it as lowland model, only VND 5 million). The request came from the
suitable for wet rice fields in flat areas. The demand of local villagers, in order to take
irrigation is very hard to use, especially to take advantage of natural stream from a high
water to sloping areas and could only provide mountain, as they learned from other
water for 4-5 farms. neighboring places. The work was under
construction during my field survey.
This irrigation project is evaluated as costly, not
of good quality, top-down managed, not- According to villagers, the source of water
suitable technology, hard to use and few is strong and could provide water for the
beneficiaries whole farming areas downhill.
(Ph t L t L h 2004)

Particularly in case of trees and crops plantation, the villagers have received many
new species from the district and commune, however the majority of successful and
remaining crops/trees are those spontaneously developed and adopted among
farmers themselves. “The commune and district agricultural department introduced many
plantation models here. We received the support and planted the trees with enthusiasm. It
grew well, even the fruits developed with nice and big shape. However, they often turned out
to be very bad productivity or very bad quality. Our enthusiasm waned. We are very doubtful
or not interested in any new trees the commune or the district gives to us”. Ha An villagers
are familiar with the failures and ineffectiveness from plantation “model”, keeping
their doubts about the garden development promotion in neighboring areas,
especially with local ethnic minority people.

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Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods

7.2.3 Forest management and forestland allocation programs

Box 7.2: History of a hill

Very long time ago, natural forest covered all over the hill.

Since 1975, people came to settle in this upland – a new economic zone. They cleared the
forests to have land for mono-cropping, or cut down the trees for making house, fuel and
for exchanging food. These various pioneer households were generally unfamiliar with the
natural environment in which they operate and do not rotate crops. They were more likely
to abandon the land once the soils have become badly and frequently irreversibly degraded.
Leaving it barren, they went further to clear additional land at the expense of the forest.

Somewhere in 1980s one reforestation program sponsored by World Food Program


supported poor farmers with rice to plant wood-oil tree. It was hoped to regreen the barren
hills, but there was virtually no measure designated to address problems embedded in local
livelihoods and no provision of alternatives (Binh T. Nguyen, 1998). Farmers planted, got
the rice and they kept forest-exploitation activities.

Stones at the foot of the hills were accumulated after big seasonal rains and floods.

After 1990s, the wood-oil tree didn’t have any market for its products. For some long,
complicated land allocation reason, the land was not allocated to households and then
became the village’s common land. Some local people and officers mentioned the land
should have been belonged to “agricultural land” category, not “forest land”. In recent
years, parts of the land are allocated gradually to villagers.

Farmers started to cut down wood-oil trees, prepare the land for planting rubber or acacia.
People began to compete for forestland allocation, which now becomes clear with the
issuance of land ownership certificates, but turns rare for the growing population.

Photo 7.3: Hilly areas used for wood-oil tree plantation in PAM-WFP are cleared
for rubber plantation

The previous chapters (Chapter 4 and 6: 4.2, 6.2) have described the failures in
nation-wide afforestation programs: PAM, PR-327 when local people experienced the
history of planting, cutting and replanting trees (Box 7.2). Realizing the alarming loss
of natural resources, PAM funded by the World Food Program aimed chiefly at

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Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods

replanting trees, and paid farmers to do so. There was virtually no measure
designated to address problems embedded in local livelihoods and no provision of
alternatives (Binh T. Nguyen, 1998). The central government set up large-scale forest
development programs such as PR-327 with the objectives to increase the forest
cover and reduce poverty among local people. However, despite ambitious reforms
in the forestry sector, the overriding problem prevails that forest planning and
programming at national and provincial level are still carried out with little
interaction with and inputs from lower level (DED, 2002; ICARD, 2004). This leads
often to unrealistic planning, mainly aiming at the allocation of funds rather then on
actual problems and demand-driven priorities (DED, 2002).

In implementation, these programs mainly focused to “increase the forest cover rate”
or “re-green barren hills” (ICARD, 2004; DED, 2002; Woods, 2001). The involvement
of local people in planning was minimal and reforestation programs have often
failed to address priority local needs, who were very poor and in serious food-
shortage situation (Mittleman, 1997) (Box 7.2 and Box 7.4). These programs allocated
funds for planting tree and for making Forest Protection Contracts. Tree seedlings
and a low level of financial and technical assistance were provided to plant trees on
sloping areas. Ha An villagers thought that they were selling labor to plant tree for
the government when participating Program 327. They just got the money, received
the nurseries and on the way to the upland hills, they threw away half of the
allocated seedlings. “We didn’t know what benefit we would get from planting these trees.
The Government threw the money away with such a forest program”. These interventions
were unable to stop unsustainable practices.

Box 7.3: Difficulties faced in forestland allocation

Difficulties faced in forestland allocation:

⎯ There is a lack of an integrated land and forest classification system, which creates
confusion and difficulties in land-use planning and forest allocation at micro and
macro levels.
⎯ The sudden change in procedures and costs involved in land allocation has puzzled local
people.
⎯ Demarcating land for allocation in some areas is not done in a transparent manner
⎯ The awareness and information about land allocation rights is low and unavailable.

Knowledge about land rights is very important to ensure efficient land-use. In most cases,
this awareness is low and when its level increases, the opportunity to receive land has
gone. A number of people view land allocation merely as a vehicle to secure Red Books,
which creates access to bank credits. A large portion of mountain residents are neither
familiar with Red Books nor with the significance of land allocation. At the commune
level, the capacity to manage the Reserved Land Bank (The amount of land reserved by
the communal people committees for future usage) is weak. This reality has resulted in
the inequitable distribution of land. Quicker-minded people possess disproportionately
large areas of land while the commune is left with no land to allocate to the late comers.
At a higher management level, authorities’ perception on land allocation reflects their
intention to meet the national target. Their affirmed concept behind the acceleration of
land allocation lies in the fact that land can be used effectively only when it has a real
owner. There is not much attention paid to the capacity of local communities to
understand and to use land efficiently.
(Source: WWF5, 2003)

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Problems of afforestation programs of PR-327 and the like in Ha An or elsewhere in


Vietnam are: a top down bureaucratic approach; unrealistic planning; land allocation
that has not involve local people, the project was simply imposed on poor
households without their input; costly and unsustainable; the interventions did not
pay attention to ensure the long-term benefits of the forest growers as well as forest
market analysis; poor silvicultural practices; forest plantation using mostly fast-
growing exotic species (Chris Lang, 2001; ICARD, 2004; DED, 2002; Woods, 2001;
Mitlleman, 1997).

For forestland allocation, the implementation process has been much slower than
land allocation of permanent agricultural areas (DED, 2002). The state has retained
control over important management decisions and most forest land in the uplands
has not been allocated to households. Natural forests are largely restricted to
government’s protected areas management authorities (DED, 2002; Ziegler, 2003).
Allocation of forest land and access rights confuse farmers with respect to the
regulations for use of the land. Contract forest protection holders receive very limited
benefits (DED, 2003). In many informal conversations, villagers also mentioned that
the majority of the allocated forestlands in Ha An are hold by a number of old, new
commune officers (Box 7.3).

Box 7.4: A tale of two Plantation Forests

Photo 7.4: Forest garden under PR-327 in Ha Photo 7.5: Forest garden on a privatized land
An – Acacia planted in 1996 without proper in Huong Loc commune, Nam Dong district –
tending and management, the forest become Acacia forest after 5 years of plantation with
miscellaneous. At the moment, with the coming good care. The owner of this farm is one among
issuance of Red Book certificate and the very few farmers in Nam Dong investing in
marketability of forest products, villagers are forestry since mid-1990s.
weeding and preparing the land to re-plant
acacia.

Unclear land and tree tenure, lack of incentives, poverty and uncertainty regarding
future prices of forest products resulted in a bad resource management and poor
investment on plantation forests (Box 7.4). Only until recently, under the facilitation
of some international NGO like SNV, landholders in Nam Dong are confirmed about
the issuance of Red Book certificates acknowledging their land rights. And the
combination of plantation programs with recent socio-economic projects: agriculture
diversification project, PR-135/133, ect are helping to create and maintain good
enabling environments for forest-planters. At the same time, the marketability of

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forest product like rubber or acacia is opening opportunities for farmers to invest in
forest gardens. Under these conditions, in other words, villagers are re-planting
forest (Box 7.2 and 7.4: A tale of two plantation forests).

7.2.4 Perceptions of other community-based projects/programs and


institutional arrangements

Apart from the above development and forestry projects, which were designed on a
large scale, either for national-wide or for the uplands, there are a number of small
projects, which are designed specifically for Ha An village or for communes in Nam
Dong district. The support for these interventions comes mainly outside local
authorities, from NGOs: DED, SNV, NAV, BFTW, etc. and from BMNP, the
extension center, or HUAF, etc.

According to local people, these are small projects but very practical and necessary,
improving access to land, credits, technical skills and market (Table 7.3). The services
delivered from the institutional arrangements are involving the participation from
villagers, both male and female. Most of them are under implementation but the
perceptions of farmers are very positive. Interviews also showed a strong preference
of villagers for interventions supporting markets and networks with enterprises for
AF products.

Among different interventions, most of villagers mentioned about the ginger contract
farming as their expectation for any coming support. The plantation of ginger
increased, then diminished in the past and are expanded again at the present, thanks
to the contract farming. The link between farmers – extension workers – private
enterprises established with ginger contract give one good example of institutional
and market support. Besides, Table 7.3 also described several interventions which are
drawing farmers’ attention and mobilizing their own resource contribution.

Throughout many development and environment management interventions, there


have been a number of local and outside organizations, which are improving their
services to deliver development more effectively and efficiently:

- In grassroots organizations: so far as local people noted, the active group is


Women Union – with the good reputation built upon the realistic and
practical activities of WU to support the necessity of rural life. Women
participate in the Union, paying membership fee, because they are eligible to
get access to credit, to trees and livestock training and family care
information and assistance. Having a good network and relationship with
district and local agencies ranging from schools to the park authorities, WU in
Huong Phu commune organizes and also is asked to run many social work
and agricultural development programs.

The agroforestry club in Ha An was newly set up, being one among the first 3
clubs in Nam Dong. It is potential institution for developing any community
initiative and promote the strong human and social capital in Ha An for
gardening. The club’s objectives: support one another to develop forest
garden, hilly garden and home garden, livestock; try to achieve both “good-

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looking and profitable gardens”. They expect to develop and share high value
tree nurseries; and to pool money to create a fund to borrow with low
interests among members.

Table 7.3: What types of project and support you like: Perceptions of farmers over some
projects and institutional arrangement in Ha An (Source: Field survey, 2004)
Type of Description of intervention and remarks from villagers
projects/supports
Contract farming for “Ginger-planting contract is very assured for us. We will have no worry about
ginger the market for the products and could sell at reasonable price. We need support
about market like this contract”
- Ginger (nghe vang) was widely planted in the past and then cut
because of no market existed (a very popular example of
trees/plants planting and cutting). However, last year the
extension center contacted with one salt-production company
in Da nang and facilitated contract between farmers and the
company in several communes.
- Farmers are eager to join this contract and most of them
mention their expectation and preference for this type of
contract farming. (The term of contract is reasonable: Half of
land are hired and on the other half, farmer could sell at market
price or when the price falls, they have a fixed minimum price)

Medicinal plants If the project helps to link with the market for medicinal plants, we could
project run by HUAF invest it ourselves, with our own money or loan and labor.
- There is one market-oriented project on growing medicinal
plant (funded by the NTFP’s Action-learning fund) run by
HUAF in Ha An.
- HUAF did some market surveys with local medicinal doctors,
drugstores and discussed together with villagers to select
which plant to grow, developing networks among them.
- Training, nursery garden and design of AF systems are ongoing
in Ha An. These activities go along with the co-management
project of natural forest set up among Ha An villagers, HUAF
and Huong Phu commune.

Irrigation work This irrigation project is a small funding, we need to add labor and money.
supported by DED’s But it’s very necessary. We are responsible for building the irrigation, so we
project with the park could discuss together to pool resources and design the irrigation system
which benefit all farms. We design, contribute money and it have better
quality, have wider outreach and cost less.

Micro credit The WU could monitor credit schemes well, so the money is spent with right
activities run by purpose and the management is clear and transparent.
WU’s Women Union is in charge of credit management from integrated rural
development projects supported by NGOs such as NAV, BFTW. Micro
credit is linked with the specific income-generating activities and
financial resources are rotated among women members.

Plantation project It is among very few plantation projects that produce good results. The
supported by BMNP park’s community development department supported farmers with
oranges, bamboo for chips, agarwood. The nurseries grow well and
farmers already have products from bamboo for chips to sell.

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- Among government organizations, the extension center has a positive image


to local people. Communal officers and many provincial officers also made
good comments about the capacity, technical skills and the outreach ability in
Nam Dong district in particular, and in Thua Thien Hue province in general.
The province strongly supported the development of extension center and
extension network in Nam Dong district from 2001, while the center was set
up on 1993, 1994 with very limited field activities and weak staff before. Local
people in Nam Dong have access to more direct guidance from and
interaction with extension officers, who help them with specific issues in
agriculture and forestry production. The services offered by the extension
center (seedlings, training, advices), according to local people, have good
quality, and made a big difference compared to those delivered by district
agricultural department. With their young and well-trained staff locating in
almost communes, the extension center has a lot of good advantages.
Especially with their active role in the recent ginger contract, the center has a
good potential position to link farmers with entrepreneurs and market
network. As experienced farmers expected “extension center and enterprise will
be the major helping hands to farmers in the future”.

- An outside institution Ha An villagers discussed mostly is HUAF with many


research-oriented and action-oriented activities in the study site. Local people
realized the long-term commitment and practical projects from researchers,
teachers and students in forestry department. It is still early to say about their
quality of work or any other institutions in Nam Dong, but the opportunity
are very potential to link research with action projects like nurseries garden,
medicinal plants or some forest co-management between local people and
HUAF. Research and hands-on activities of HUAF are strongly supported in
Ha An, and these, in turn, require HUAF to improve its quality,
accountability and efficiency.

- There is a good development of cooperation and network between these


groups, organizations in Ha An. The park authority, HUAF and other NGOs
closely work together to support and facilitate grassroots institutions: the
village management board, Women Union, and AF club. Especially the
presence of effective community development programs facilitated by BMNP
authority in Ha An helps to improve the perceptions of local people towards
the management board of “rung cam” Bach Ma (forbidden forest) and
develop the link among stakeholders, the community and the conservation
organization.

7.3 General assessment on institution facilitating sustainable


livelihoods
The long list of policies, programs, projects shows a great interest and commitments
of governmental and non-governmental organizations, at local, national,
international level in supporting the rural population, disadvantageous communities
to get out of poverty and build a sustainable life. The contexts of being an upland
place and being buffer zone of BMNP give a strong rationale for rural development
and biodiversity conservation interventions.

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Chapter 7. Institutions facilitating sustainable livelihoods

- In summary, there is a focus on poverty alleviation and integrated rural


development in the uplands (Kerridge and Peters, 2002). Since 1999-2000,
there are strong commitments and actions toward development in
mountainous and disadvantageous areas of Nam Dong district, giving more
human attentions and investments to less-favoured areas. Support to
development of sustainable livelihoods in the uplands is visualized as:
improvement of policies and governance, and increasing income and
employment through support to capacity building in agriculture, forestry and
non-farm activities (Kerridge and Peters, 2002).

- The majority of the development money goes for infrastructure investment,


while only a very small part is used in community-based development
programs.

- In the case of Ha An or Huong Phu, the rural development efforts have prove
to be successful, especially in terms of creating a essential environment to
smooth access to market, credit and services for local people. Many poverty
problems in less-favoured areas have been attacked: rural physical
infrastructure and primary education; health care; child nutrition; access to
credits, information; women’s empowerment. This creates a good enabling
environment for the investment and development of tree-planting and other
commercial agricultural-forestry products.

- The policies and strategies have good objectives, but many work not
effectively when going from top level to the grassroots levels, especially
compared with the small-scale, community-based projects. Institutional
design for many interventions often fails to have the participation of local
people, because not creating enough incentives and motivation for them to
join. Failures and errors are repetitive in big-scale, one size fit all, top-down
approached projects

In proposals for community development programs in the buffer zone of


BMNP, DED pointed out the weaknesses of many national development and
afforestation programs “due to the scarce and irregular financial and
technical resources of the programmes cited above, it is questionable whether
these programmes can compensate sufficiently for poor soil conditions,
complicated topography, increasing demand for wood, pasture land for
cattle, and farm land for agriculture. These burning issues in the buffer zones
threaten the conservation objectives of the protected areas permanently. It is
therefore doubtful whether the allocation of resources from national
programmes can significantly contribute to maintain the social and natural
value of buffer zones in the long term” (DED, 2003).

- Although it is still early to evaluate, there is a growing number of small scale,


community-driven programs run from several local institutions, those are
perceived by local people as of good will and accountability. These are being
set up with good institutional design, giving good incentives and motivation
for local people to participate.

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- Agroforestry intervention is still a modest priority among these policies,


strategies and programs, it is more “tree planting” in almost interventions. A
lot has been done in the field of agriculture and forestry development, but
with a main focus on the ecological suitibility of different models and less
attention to the socio-economic sustainability of the models, such as:
input/output analysis in monetary terms, current market situation and
anticipated future market situtation for different products.

- The forestry sector is perceived as only one out of many sectors within rural
development of Vietnam. It is competing with other sectors at all levels for
the land resources, funds, and human resources, and consequently forestry
development has not brought the expected results to contribute successfully
to poverty alleviation and enhancing rural livelihoods (DED, 2003). However
forestry development interventions start to become more visible and feasible
in recent context and time.

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Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

The main objective of this study is to investigate the opportunities for promoting
sustainable livelihoods of farmers through Agroforestry in the buffer zone of BMNP. So far,
previous chapters have described and discussed the findings and analysis of the
ecological, socio-economic contexts of Ha An village; how farmer make their land
(resources)-use decision and select their livelihood strategies; and the roles of
institutions in promoting sustainable livelihoods interventions.

This final chapter presents the conclusions and discussion on the development of
agroforestry and the institutional aspects of sustainable livelihoods. The chapter
addresses several lessons learnt from the case study combining with empirical
development and conservation experience in Vietnam, and then draws implications
and recommendations.

8.1 The development of agroforestry as sustainable livelihoods


“A livelihood is sustainable “when it can cope with and recover from stresses and
shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, and provide net benefits to
other livelihoods locally and more widely, both now and in the future, while not
undermining the natural resource base”
(Definition of Institute of Development Studies; Carney, 1998)

8.1.1 The development of agroforestry

In Ha An, AF has proven to become a popular livelihoods among many limited


options for upland people. Although salary-based jobs and full-time employment in
government organizations are the most secured income generating sources, there are
very few chances in the highlands. And the prospects for out-migration or non-farm
economies through self-employment, home industries are still constrained to a range
of small trades and low-skilled jobs. The majority of villagers derive their main
household income from agriculture, forestry activities, in which plantations are the
core livelihood. Home gardens and hill gardens has helped local people get out of
poverty, while many other villages and communes of Nam Dong district still depend
on forest-extracted activities.

It could be summarized about the present livelihoods strategies in Ha An household


that: “Those who are above 50 year old have developed garden very well and
receiving stable gardening income. Those who are 40-50 are at the best time to invest
and maximize the productivity of different gardens. Those who are young and just
started to live independently are putting their energy in hired labour and other non-
farm activities, accumulating capital in preparation for gardening in the future”. On
the one hand, the practice of putting different trees in the farms, developing different
gardens from flat land around homesteads to slightly sloping land to the sloping and
fragile areas are the integration of different households’ livelihoods strategies, which
include intensification/extensification and diversification. On the other hand,

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Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

farming activities in Ha An generate beneficial effects on off-farm and non-farm


activities, either through the investment of farmers on education of children for a
more secured future, or the influence on the increased demand for hired labour or
small services.

Tracking the history since 1975, the village of Ha An has undergone through the
changes in livelihoods, in land uses, and in tree plantations. Among different
development pathways, farmers have developed their own preference for gardening
with different agroforestry system and are interested in forest gardens in recent time.
Among different types of trees/ crops, farmers’ main plantations have changed from
short cycle trees and food crop to fruit trees and they are investing in perennial forest
trees with preferences depending on the land tenure and market factors. Ha An
people are good at farm-based AF – putting perennial trees on the farm, not forest-
based AF. They are lacking technical knowledge and experience in developing
integrated AF systems on natural and plantation forests. Local people are eager to
adopt forest-based AF and attracted by the economic benefits and the marketability
of timber and non-timber products. There are many things to do with forest gardens
in the coming time, but overall Ha An has a high diversity in the development of
farming systems and products.

One characteristic of tree-planting in Ha An village is that the current most


successful trees in home and hill gardens have been spontaneously tried,
disseminated and developed by and within local villagers themselves. Many
industrial and forest trees/plants, which were promoted by outsiders (development
and reforestation projects), are either cut down or being re-planted. Because they are
either not suitable to local bio-physical conditions (such as eucalyptus, coffee) or
more often, the prices fall dramatically in recent years (coffee, pepper), or the quality
and productivity turn out very low (acacia plantation under PR-327).

Why and how are people interested in AF and tree plantation? Why do people have
well-developed garden while many other places in the same district do not? Why
people did not adopt AF in the past but now they are interested in? Why plant this
tree, not that tree? Farmers’ decisions come from the integrated combination of
factors ranging from natural and physical factors (infrastructure conditions, land,
climate, water, diseases...) to human and social factors (education, social capital,
experience, market forces, policies, institutions). Among natural factors, land is the
first precondition for farmers to decide, a villager with no land or no clear land
ownership hardly investing in plantations, especially in perennial trees. Land is the
biggest constraint for Ha An people when there is only little (forest) land left to
allocate to households. And among human and social factors, market for AF product
is the most important determinant. The fluctuations in price and demand for AF
products influence the changes in short and long cycle crops/trees. Furthermore,
institutional factors, which influence access to natural and human factors (such as
land tenure, market linkages), can impede or promote agroforestry adoption. And in
different times and contexts, these factors could have different levels of importance
and priority. For example, when farmers lack of food security and living under
poverty 1980s, they were interested in food and short cycle crops only. In the
availability of essential infrastructures of health, education, credit and markets,
market forces play the decisive role in the selection of trees. Planting trees/crops or
not, this decision result from the complex interactions during the process households
using livelihoods assets in different livelihoods strategies, under the impacts of

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Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

institutional arrangements and environments, in their living upland and buffer-zone


context.

8.1.2 How sustainable is AF?

With the ready development of gardens around homesteads and slightly sloping
land and the potential forest gardens in fragile areas, the changes from AF
development are showing ecological, economic and social impacts in the life and
environment of Ha An.

Economically...

As local people perceived the stable income from gardening has helped them to get
out of poverty and stop unsustainable forest exploitation activities. In their
livelihood portfolio: Home garden + Hill garden = daily expenses; and Forest garden
= saving + long-term investment. Forest garden provides a good prospect for
diversifying incomes, contributing to a more robust and sustainable economy in the
coming future. In the meantime, current AF practices meet the daily needs of
household, supporting a long-term investment in forest plantation.

Looking at the big picture, however, in most cases, there are no fruits or timber trees
with a big-scale production in Ha An village or Nam Dong district. The upland
agriculture practices are characterized with small-scale, fragmented, mixed farming
and combination of subsistence and commercial production. While the lowland areas
are more suitable to large-scale, capital-intensive, high-input agriculture using large
quantities of chemical fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals, and mostly
commercial crops, trees. AF products in Ha An or Nam Dong are in the position of
market-follower, even with the recent mainstream tree development like rubber tree,
and also sold at lower price compared to products from the lowlands. The
productivity is low and the quality of AF products is average, although it is very
safe, using little chemical or pesticides. Farmers discussing about these constraints of
their farming, however they noted that the diversity of farming, of trees and crops
products helps them to reduce risks and shocks from the fluctuation of market
prices, which badly affects bigger scale farmers in many places throughout Vietnam.

About market for AF products, fruit tree products find the niche market in the
nearby rural areas in the central provinces or during off-season time, however the
potential is small and faced with more pressing challenges of competition from other
places. The industrial trees and forest trees are to fulfill the demands in a different
scale, regional and international, participating in the integration of Vietnam into
global market. The competition is hard, dependent and risky. Smallholders have
limited access to market information while marketing mechanisms are complex with
many state enterprises and private interventions. So far, there have not been many
formal studies on marketing plantation forest tree products, nor has there been
sufficient cost-benefit analysis on growing forest tree in plantations in Vietnam,
where the climate is favorable for such growth (Ngo Thi Minh Hang, 1996).

Until now most of newly planted forest has been monoculture, planted mostly with
acacia, eucalypt and pine species, aiming solely at increasing the area planted (ICD,

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Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

2001 cited in 2003, ICARD). The long-term economic interests of farmers have not
been given enough attention (2003, ICARD). Most of agricultural/forestry plantation
products were originated from other places, and are often suffering the saturated
market and fluctuating prices. While plantation of local specialties such as many
NTFPs (rattan, medicinal herbs, etc.), which local people still exploit from the forest
illegally and unsustainably, are not yet given enough attention to invest or just
started and too small to meet the demands of the market.

The strengths of producing clean, safe AF products and the local specialty or
characteristics of locating in a rich-biodiversity region are not yet promoted.
Moreover, the tourism potential of Hue and Bach Ma are weakly linked to other local
sectors to create a good, stable market for local products. Supplying local rural
products as tourism food, drinks or souvenirs are an untapped business in this
UNESCO-recognized World Heritage area with thousands of domestic and
international visitors annually. It is not an exceptional case in the central region, but
commonplace elsewhere in uplands, in agriculture and forestry development of
Vietnam.

Planting forest trees is opening a window of opportunities to local people for a stable
income source, for making good business out of the so-called unproductive, less
favored land. This prospect starts to be realized in Nam Dong and several places,
while very likely that it has yet to convince many poor people living in other fragile,
mountainous areas. Selection of appropriate tree species, secure land tenure, and
established markets for products are key considerations for successful agroforestry
(Leisher and Peters, 2004).

Socially...

There are many positive benefits derived from garden-based livelihoods in Ha An as


perceived and highly appreciated by local people: the increased living standards, the
improvement of education for children, the reduction of heavy workload for women
and more access to necessary social services.

Why did most Ha An people spontaneously develop home garden and hill garden
AF systems, while the garden phenomenon is weak or miscellaneous in other places?
As explained by the local people, villagers, neighbors and commune officers, they
simply learn and imitate within their community. There are a number of “change
agents” who are experienced and respectful farmers, willing to help and share their
inputs and knowledge. The good network and social capital among the villagers
have facilitated and been developed with and through the growth of home and hill
gardens, making a difference for the village of Ha An compared to the rest of the
communes and of the district.

On the other hand, villagers need more assistance on institutional building to


support their network, especially for developing forest garden. The sensitivity of
forestland allocation and unclear land tenure challenges the cooperation among
farmers, between them and local government. Villagers concern about land
constrains as well as difference in landholding size, which could contribute to the
income disparity among villagers in the future.

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Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

Ecologically...

The forest coverage increases in Nam Dong district with the improved conservation
awareness of local people. Barren hills have been covered (Le Tien Phong, 2004;
Appendix 2), and according to local people, there are less detrimental occurrences of
land degradation and natural disasters. The history of the village has experience
from a Malthusiam “downward spiral” to the positive Boserupian “induced
innovation”. At the early stages, farmers are viewed as being pushed by population
growth and poverty to exploit fragile, marginal soils, degrading the resource base
(Reardon & Vosti, 1996; Agudelo, 2003). Then from mid 1990s, a process of “induced
innovation” occurs whereby the village started to invest in agricultural
intensification and in improving their natural resources with perennial trees.

One of the highest goals of AF and forestry development programs is ecological


sustainability, in which the environment expectations include the rehabilitation of
degraded forests and enhanced potential for forest and biodiversity conservation
(Mittelman, 1997) (Figure 8.1). The forest cover is increasing in Nam Dong district,
but with what level of quality and diversity?

The gardens established around homestead and slightly sloping areas develop a
good level of trees/crops integration and diversity, however the plantation on
forestlands in hillsides has been poorly developed with monoculture and exotic
species. Barren hills are afforested, but with a poor quality of forest and consequently
of low biodiversity. Local people started to be interested in forest trees, but the native
trees are still of low priority. The move from subsistence to commercial farming and
the market-driven forest plantation can bring cash income and help to alleviate
upland poverty, but on the other hand, it can become a challenge for biodiversity
conservation with the growth of monoculture and exotic plantation. Recent news
about the illegal clearance of natural forest to prepare the area for Acacia plantation
by local people in Huong Loc, another buffer zone commune of BMNP is one
example of the other side of market-oriented forestry development interest.

Figure 8.1: Agriculture, AF and natural forest systems


(Source: adapted from Mallet, p. 1997)

Single crop Fruit-tree Hill garden Forest garden Natural forest


agriculture home garden

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Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

The coming future of AF, particularly of forest gardens has the tasks to provide
forest products, services and enrich natural forests (Figure 8.1). At the same time, the
AF development needs to reflect the market orientation, to attract household interest
and resources. In this aspect, Leakey and Simons (2004, 1997) presented the thinking
and strategies of ICRAF about the domestication and commercialization of
indigenous trees in agroforestry for the alleviation of poverty (Simon and Leakey,
2004; Leakey and Simons, 1997). One important component of this approach is the
domestication of the local tree species that have commercial potential in local,
regional or even international markets. (Leakey and Simons, 1997). Again, the
complex interactions between development and conservation, between livelihoods
and natural resource base, and the links between markets, the environment,
household production, and household welfare need to be considered more carefully
(Dewees and Scherr, 1996).

On the other hand, market interest for biodiversity products and services is growing,
also from the demand in big cities in Vietnam, giving biodiversity-rich places a
comparative advantage (Lucas Assuncao, 2004). Bach Ma national park, as a home of
rich flora diversity has the potential to add value to local AF products. However,
developing countries like Vietnam and especially the upland region often lack the
capacity to turn agro-biodiversity into a competitive advantage (Lucas Assuncao,
2004). This is the gap for NGOs and government organizations to fill in.

8.2 Can institutions bring better change?


“The impact of development interventions on the reality or to the huge development
demand of poor communities is like the comparison to that of one ant to one elephant.
How can the ant influence the elephant: it depends on where, how and the way to put
the ant. For instance, it could make a difference if putting the ant in the eyes or ears
of the elephant rather than putting it elsewhere”.
(Bui Dinh Toai, PRA expert – Interview 2004)

Looking back over the past approximately 30 year old history of this study site, the
answer is Yes and No. And looking forward to the future, there are a number of good
practices and potential needed to stimulate for further development and replication,
and at the same time, a lot of lessons required to draw from the past and present
failures.

8.2.1 The answer is “Yes”, and there are good practices to learn and
replicate...
How to help the poor and disadvantageous?
“Khong cho ca, ma cho can cau ca” - Don’t give fish but give them the fishing rod1
Don’t give the fish but teach them how to fish
Don’t give the fish but create the enabling environment for them to fish

There is a strong commitment and positive movement towards poverty alleviation


and sustainable resource management in the mountainous and disadvantageous

1 A common saying in Vietnam about how to help the poor

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Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

areas in Vietnam. Since 1999-2000, there have been better changes in the upland
district of Nam Dong with the improvement of basic infrastructures, road, education,
communication systems, and extension services. These enabling factors are
facilitating the flow of information, goods and services of local products and
promoting the development of agricultural and forestry production.

A number of nation-wide programs like PR-133, PR-135 and the like have earned a
good reputation for the efforts in eliminating hunger and prioritizing upland
development. The Government has also established a number of mass organizations
to help the marginalized, such as the Women’s Union, Farmer’s Union, Bank for the
Poor, etc. (Binh T. Nguyen, 1998).

There are recently a number of small-scale community-driven programs, which


facilitate farmers’ access to land, credits, extension services and market. These
interventions are perceived by local people as to be practical, responsive to local
needs and of good accountability. These are being set up with good institutional
design, giving clear incentives and motivation for villagers to participate and
contribute their resources.

The reasons underlying the active adoption of these small but effective interventions
are the change to more farmer-centered, participatory and collaborative management
approaches. Development agencies and stakeholders work for and with local people.
Small projects and programs have the flexibility to accommodate their capacity to
make tactical, in-course modifications based on “learning-by-doing” from field
experience (Mittleman, 1997). The park authority, HUAF and other NGOs work
closely together to support and facilitate grassroots institutions: the village
management board, Women Union, and AF club. There is a good development of
cooperation and network between these groups, organizations in Ha An, and their
work is gaining trust from villagers.

The better collaboration among local groups and organizations working in the study
site and quality of the services provided by these institution arrangements show a
good level of capacity and personnel. These have developed through a lot of
capacity-building efforts from many development interventions, which may be
focused on area development (i.e. integrated rural development projects supported
by NAV, BFTW, DED, etc) or on particular themes (i.e. such as the project
“Strengthening Forestry Management Capacity in TT Hue province” supported by
SNV, Extension and Training Support Project for Forestry and Agriculture in the
Uplands supported by SDC, conservation projects supported by WWF, Tropenbos,
etc.). All projects and programs are involved in capacity building for staff at different
levels, from community to district, provincial level (Kerridge and Peters, 2002).

Have changes in attitudes, knowledge, and skills demonstrated to bring about


success at the grassroots level in enhancing sustainable livelihoods (Kerridge and
Peters, 2002)? It is a good question to ask and it takes time to answer. In the case of
Ha An, positive changes have started. The fruits of a long process of learning and
experiencing include: the practical micro-credit activities managed by Women Union
and the active participation and enhanced community skills and techniques of WU;
better local-specific services provided by a strong team of young, well-trained
extension workers, who have good flexibility to adapt technology to uplands context.
Projects/programs do not last long, however, the availability and development of

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Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

good expertise and capacity in agriculture, forestry and rural development and
community-based project management in several research organizations and
government agencies in Thua Thien Hue, like HUAF and BMNP, will sustain and are
the key to success of current and future development and conservation interventions.

There is a strong preference of local people for institution arrangements supporting


market for AF products. In recent supports, extension officers and HUAF
researchers are taking first innovative steps in building the linkage between farmers
and private enterprises.

8.2.2 The answer is “No”, and there are good lessons to draw and many
things to do...

While most of small-scale interventions, which were designed specifically at


community level, have proven to bring positive results and gain trust from local
people, the majority of funding and large scale projects, programs and policies have
faced with low rates of successful implementation and adoption.

The past forestry development interventions in Ha An did not reach the 3


sustainables “economic, social and ecological” effectively: on ecological side, the
quality of the recovery of the biodiversity and native trees are poor; on economic and
social sides, the past agroforestry and forest management efforts failed to attract
farmers’ adoption. The top-down approaches, ranging from extension of expert-
designed technical models to the use of financial or in-kind incentives in these
interventions, have been generally unsuccessful in engaging local populations to find
appropriate ways of solving local poverty and environment problems (Mittleman,
1997). Local people are mentioned as the main driving force, but their involvement
remains confined to providing labour for forest protection and tree planting activities
(Ulrich et al, 2004). The institutional factors, which influence farmers’ decisions,
activities and progresses toward sustainability, were problematic and not
sustainable: failures to create clear incentives for farmers to participate, and to
provide enabling factors from land allocation to market support.

There are strong efforts to alleviate upland poverty, however the quality and
effectiveness of the field implementation and management of activities remain low.
Failures are common in supporting farmers to find suitable seeds for this ecological
zone and in costly rural infrastructure and service development investment.
Although some economic objectives have been reached, the link between socio-
economic and conservation practices and benefits are not clear. Most of supports
focus on “giving subsidy” or “giving a fish” more than “giving a fishing crook”, and
on working for more than working with local people. A number of interventions
mainly involve the participation of the better-off households, but not include the
poor, landless and woman-headed households. And there are many failures in
supporting the ethnic minorities people.

Examples in conservation or development interventions like the poor adoption and


growth of PR-327’s plantation forests or the ineffective irrigation work funded by PR-
135 in Ha An are not irregular. A lot of constraints have existed with the institutional
arrangements of these projects/programs. And lack of sustainability in institutions
cause failures on delivering the 3 sustainables “economic, social, ecological”. The

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Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

present and future of sustainable development are challenged to solve these


problems:

- Projects/programs develop technology and interventions with large-scale,


top-down approaches, not considering the diverse, realistic needs of farmers
in their diverse agro-ecological, socio-economic and cultural contexts. The
intervention should be established at a very localized level and more
decisions should be decentralized to village management board.

- So far, many interventions have focused on introducing “models” technically


more than supporting farmers to adopt and adapt the technology sustainably
in their diverse socio-economic contexts. Agriculture and forestry efforts
focus on production more than inputs/outputs links and market support.
Over-emphasis on model development (particularly, though not exclusively
by government interventions), has tended to stifle local creativity, minimizing
the involvement of rural people in charting a path for their own
development, and compromising potential for spontaneous replication and
project sustainability (Mittleman, 1997). Villagers keeping their doubts about
any coming intervention whether it is designed with good objectives. Projects
should change the expert-centered and capital intensive approaches of
“giving”, and put community as key player, mobilising their resources in the
process of project planning, implementation and monitoring (Mittleman,
1997).

- Among projects, programs and communities, there is lack of critical learning


and sharing forum about experiences, successes and failures. Ineffective field
implementation activities are repetitive and there are many overlapping
interventions and responsibilities with a views to the landscape of
development and resource management institutions.

- These institutions and personnel tend to focus on, and do rather well at,
specific technical tasks (Binh T. Nguyen, 1998). A very small proportion of
them, if any, tackle issues of social, economic and environmental
sustainability in a truly complex, multidisciplinary manner (Binh T. Nguyen,
1998). Extension staff and personnel working in rural development and
conservation often have limited facilitation and participatory skills. They
deliver what they know, not what farmer wants or not encourage farmer to
develop ideas and indigenous knowledge. On the other hand, incentives and
working conditions for community-based field workers are not encouraging
and often fail to sustain their efforts in working in upland and
disadvantageous place.

8.3 Implications and recommendations


“AF development is not a purely technical or scientific matter but a skill, an art, and a feeling
about fostering opportunities for farmers”
(Bay, 1996 cited in Mittleman, 1997)

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Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

The history of Ha An is the history of planting, cutting and replanting trees. What are
the implications behind this brief comment? On positive sides, it describes the
process local people have strived and are striving to find good seedlings for
development, for the flexibility and sustainability of their livelihoods. It shows the
diversity and the risk-coping and –managing strategies of local people in adaptation
to the upland environment, their “home” now, to the seasonality and to the changes
in price and market, regarding of short- and medium-cycle trees. On the negative
sides, it concerns the difficulties, constraints and the failures in tree plantation,
especially with a views to perennial trees development. It relates to the fragile
environment and unsustainable practices in uplands, and to history of policies,
programs and other institutions failing to attract farmers’ motivations to and
adoption of forest protection and plantation.

Fundamental to the success of AF development, as suggested from a number of


study in AF and community forestry in Vietnam, are: the allocation of rural land and
forests to households and communities; appropriate and supportive policies;
availability of credit on favourable terms; and in longer-term, the development of
rural entrepreneurialism, rural processing and marketing hubs linked effectively by
transport routes and trade arrangements to national and international markets
(Mittleman, 1997).

From the case study in Ha An, there are a number of specific implications and
recommendations to make:

Support the development of true integration AF systems:

- Support farmers to find suitable AF trees, especially for true integration AF


systems in forest gardens: On the one hand, develop the niche market for safe
and clean agro-biodiversity products from short-crop and fruit trees; on the
other hand, promote the domestication and commercialization of indigenous
trees in agroforestry.

- Research and hands-on projects on AF should apply multi-disciplinary


approaches, including technical and socio-economic aspects and be more
market-oriented, given the contexts that rural, uplands communities are
moving from subsistence to commercial farming.

- There need to be close linkages between development and resource


management interventions. Future interventions such as credit, incentives
and extension services should be directed towards the promotion of the AF
system (Bui Dung The, 2001).

Improve the sustainability and effectiveness of project, programs and other


institutions:

- Lessons can be identified from the development experience of Ha An: start


small and go slowly at village level; locate project participation and
ownership to the village level, mobilizing rural resource; and tailor
introduced technologies to more specific local conditions, and help farmers
adapt the technologies (Peters, 2001; McElwee, 1997).

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Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

- Critical attention should be paid to the improvement of institutional


environments and the design of institutional arrangements with appropriate
incentives and coordination mechanisms. Improve the institutional
environment and develop infrastructure and services to upgrade transportation,
information and communication, and reduce transaction cost in less-favoured
areas; and develop more effective institutional arrangements to implement
interventions effectively and efficiently. Incentives should be designed to attract
and sustain field workers to deliver community-based innovatives and farmers
to participate in interventions.

- Develop and strengthen social capital and community groups: community


groups will help to sustain the adoption of offered technology after any
project/program ends. These institutional arrangements, with strong
leaderships and appropriate incentives, help to correct the imperfect markets
and information asymmetry in market and government structures. On the
other hand, market-oriented agriculture development needs informed
groups. Community groups can play a strategic role in gathering and
disseminating information and providing local support in agroenterprise
development (Kerridge and Peters, 2002). As Place et all discussed in the 2002
Vision for Food, Agriculture and the Environment: although NGOs or
external projects often attempt to create new local organizations to carry out
such activities, mobilizing existing local groups can be more effective over the
long term. Even if the work is new to these existing groups, they can be
successful because social capital (trust and mutual obligations) and
organizational systems are already established.

- Learning, networking and capacity building are essential to the short-,


middle, and long-term process of sustainable livelihoods. Foster the
interdisciplinary links and networks among local people, groups, government
organizations, NGOs and those working in the same location and between
villages, communes, districts. Especially, training should be more directed to
equip skills on integrated development and conservation and participatory
approaches for organizations and personnel working at the very localised
level. Training should involve extensive opportunities for field-based
experiential or “action learning” (Mittleman, 1997).

- Programs/projects and other institutions should ensure to include the poor,


landless and ethnic minorities. Interventions should be to achieve a
“multiplier effect” where a continually expanded set of human and on-the-
ground resources enable replication of effective rural development and
resource conservation innovative, and of best practices (Mittleman, 1997).

8.4 Issues for further research


Ha An is in a better-off situation compared to many other places in Huong Phu or in
Nam Dong. The village itself has found a sustainable development pathway in
garden-based livelihoods, and is taking good advantages from outsiders’ support on
infrastructure building and socio-economic development. While Ha An grows to a
fairly better farming life, upland region of Vietnam remains backward, under-

112
Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

developed and especially ethnic minority groups have hardly participated in any
improvement. It is now recognized that not enough has been done to address the
needs of the most vulnerable groups in the uplands (Kerridge and Peters, 2002).
Many upland communities are still continuing the dependence on and the over-
exploitation of natural resource. On the other hand, the village of Ha An was and is
faced with price and market constraints, the lack of secured land and effective
institutional supports. Pro-poor growth is relatively easy in the early stages, but the
challenge is to sustain poverty reduction (Rama, 2004). Its problems in the past are
quite similar to those which happened and are happening to many communities in
Vietnam, its problems at the present and in the future are probably reflecting the
same situation for many places to experience on the way to develop sustainable
livelihood strategies.

Focusing on the development of AF as one sustainable livelihood in Ha An village,


there are a number of issues out of the scope of this research and relevant for further
study on AF and/or rural sustainable livelihoods:

- Economic analysis (cost-benefits, optimization, etc.) of different AF systems


and development and market analysis of different AF products: There are a
lot of market-oriented tools should be applied, such as strength-weakness-
opportunity-threat (SWOT) diagrams, total quality analysis, product life
system, structure-conduct-performance, hedonic and contingent valuation in
order to find out and develop practical recommendations for productive and
sustainable outputs (Calkins, 2004).

- Institutional study on property rights and collective action at local level: The
interest to promote agroforestry practices/social forestry/participatory
forestry/community based forestry is to involve rural households in forestry
related activities, promoting the decentralization of forest management
(Mittleman, 1997).

- Research on the traditional and current AF and farming systems and


livelihoods of ethnic minorities groups, to learn and appreciate indigenous
knowledge, respond to the diversity of local conditions and support the
integrated resource management for and with these populations.

- Study on the livelihoods and future development pathways of the youth in


rural and upland areas: While the first generation of Ha An who are at their
50s, 60s now and who used to merely depend on basic crop production, and
mostly based on forest-extractive activities and pioneered in fruit tree
planting; and the very followed generation who are at their 30s, 40s now and
who have experienced youth days in forests and now are taking the
dominant roles in planting trees, learning from their previous pioneers. How
about the next generation, who enjoy all the fruits of their hardworking
parents, don’t have to work hard, but get education and better social services.
Whether this growing generation in Ha An or in rural, upland communities
elsewhere could find sustainable pathways in migration to more urbanized
areas or there are available resources to get their involvement and future
mastery in agroforestry and other rural livelihoods, these questions remain to
be answered.

113
Chapter 8. Conclusions and Discussion

Photo 8.1: An 8th grade student is helping family


with picking up fruit after class. Her wish is to
become a teacher in the future.

114
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123
Appendices

Appendices
Appendix 1: Questionnaires

Household informal/semi-structured interviews

I. HOUSEHOLD CAPITAL AND ASSETS


1. Human capital
Number of adults and children
Education/gender/age
Number of labour
Health
2. Natural capital
Land, soil
Forest
Water
3. Physical capital
Type of house and furniture (TV, motorbike, etc)
Private owned assets (farm animals, tools, machines)
4. Social capital
Village-wide arrangement (crop/livestock arrangement; inputs pooling to buy)
Cooperatives, rules, regulations
Networks kinships

II. HISTORY
Life events (Born, marriage, moving to this place, having babies)
Discuss major changes in the last 5/10/15 years:
Change in capital/ assets; livelihoods activities (crops, livestocks, migration, non-farm
activities)
Change in socio-economic-environment of household/ community

III. FARMING CHARACTERISTICS


Sources of HOME FOREST Forest land Livestock Other (non-farm,
income garden garden wage labour,
migration...)
Size
Trees/
Crops
Income Total
Land use:
History: prior to tree planting; reasons for planting trees; limitation for further planting trees
Systems implemented: home, hill garden and forest garden
Evaluate: SWOT of each land use. SWOT of trees to plant. What most difficult? What most
advantages? What trees do you prefers? Which is the most profitable/ labour intensive/
capital intensive tree to plant?
Conservation practices: crop management and soil erosion management
What impacts/changes with the development of AF:
over the income
the socio/ economy/the environment (quality of soil) of the community
Who you know get rich by planting trees/ home gardern?
What you would do, if you have:
more land Rank the needs priority
more labor
more capital

124
Appendices

IV. MARKET AND INSTITUTION FACTORS


1. Inputs:
From whom? At what price? Any difficulties?
seeds/
pesticides/
fertilizers
Credit

2. Technical information
You get technical info from whom:
indigenous knowledge
learn and imitate other farmers
farmers association
training course (from whom)
researchers
extensions
industry
middlemen
from NGOs
books
mass media
Evaluate role of each institution
3. Policy/rules/regulations
Discuss program 135
Discuss program 327 vs. 661
Discuss other major support institution: local/district/national policies and programs
Do you participate in any program?
How do you think about the target groups of these programs?
What are your perceptions of these policies/programs and institutions?
4. Markets access
What products you harvest: fruits/timbers/fuelwood/others (?)
Do you know who/where have the same products like in your farm?
Where and when to sell?
Are price reasonable?
How to improve market situation?
How you know the change in prices?

V. FUTURE VISION
What future you expect for:
Your farming systems?
Your farm ownership?
Your children?

125
Appendices
Checklists for Key informants

HISTORY
History of the village/commune. What? Why? When?
History of livelihoods in comparison to neighboring villages/communes. What?
Why? When? How about others?
Perceptions of change in the last 15/10/5 years (What successes/changes were
achieved - the SL framework outputs):
socio-economic (poverty rate, use of labor, wealth level, edu)
ecological (natural resource base: trees, water, soil quality; ecosystems, climate)
What were the limitations in terms of livelihood resources (natural, financial and
physical, human, social)?

INSTITUTIONS
Which social org has been working in your village/commune in terms of
livelihoods? Evaluate social org.
Which agriculture/rural/ tree planting programs have been carried out in your
village/commune? Evaluate Gov/NGO’s tree planting programs
SWOT of institutions/program
What were the lessons learnt? (including limitations in design and inputs)
What were the limitations in terms of
- institutional and organizational structures
- livelihood resources (natural, financial and physical, human, social)
What were the effects of the macro environment in terms of:
trends, shocks, seasons, policies, agro-ecological zone etc.
What are the opportunities for intervention
- in conventional technologies/skills enhancement
- in changing the institutional & organizational settings

FUTURE VISION
Which problems does the community face?
How many people in the community are affected? (e.g. number, percentage)
What is the time scale of the impact? (e.g. seasonal, occasional, continuous)
Who are most affected by the problems? (e.g. rich, poor, young, old, men, women)
Can you suggest solutions in order to solve these problems?
Local solution
Higher level management solution
What future you expect for your community
(Questions for officer: What are the village/commune plans for developing the
community:
Near future
Long term)

126
Appendices
Profile of institutions

History
When was the institution founded? Who initiate the institution?
Are there any major changes in its history?

What kind of legal status or structure does it have?

Management
Goal and objectives
What is the vision/plan/role of the institution past, present, future?
What does it want to achieve?

Management and personnel


What about the leadership? Memberships?
What about the involvement of the members in decision-making?
How many members or staff does the institution have?
Their qualifications/ Their motivations:

Resources
Materials resources, buildings, etc.
Financing:

Operation
What are the main activities of the institution?
What kind of services/products does it provide to the members or clients? What is
demanded most?

Who are clients of the institution?


Does the institution have relationships with other institutions/groups?

SWOT
What are the major potentials of the institution?
What are the main problems the institution is facing?
What else is of interest about the institution?
Success and failure stories of your institution and others institution/programs you
knew? What lessons to be learnt?

Others
How you perceive the development of garden/livelihoods in the
village/commune/district?
In your opinion, what are the main problems farmers are facing? What should be
done about that, from your institution and others?

127
Appendices
Checklist for middlemen

General information
Which commune/district/province are you from?
How often and when you go to this market in a day, a month, a year?
Why you decide to go to this market?
How long have you been to this market?
Are there many middlemen from that place going to this market like you?
What is the advantage of this place? Disadvantage?
Place
How you transport the product from here to your market?
How often you:
go to the market, or
go to the garden to buy product?
Where are you going to sell this product? Wholesale or retail?
Where is the place the products consumed: in other district, in hue, in other
provinces?
Have you been to other farming areas to buy the same products?
Do you know if any places produce the same products in Hue, neighboring
provinces? List locations.

Products
Which product/service you are trading?
How long have you traded in this product?
Quantity: the largest and smallest volume you deal in:
Quality: how you evaluate the quality of the product here? It depends on season?
Do your customers like the product here? Why?
Compare with other place: quality

Price
Does product here have good price?
How does the price change in a year?
What is the tendency of price change of this product in the last 3, 5 years?
Compare with other places: price

Promotion
Do customer know and realize the product planted in Nam Dong/Ha An?
What you expect the farmer here to improve?
What difficulties are you facing with when trading in this place?
Do you have a close contact(s) to make a deal with?
Do you have preferences for:
any specific product
from which specific place in Nam Dong?

128
Appendices
Appendix 2: Land cover dynamics during period 1989 – 1996 – 2003
(Source: Le Tien Phong, 2004)

The above graph (Figure 1) depicts the dynamics of four land cover types: dense
forest, open forest, plantation, and shrub based on the results of land cover mapping.

Table 1: Area of land cover types (ha)


Land cover 1989 % 1996 % 2003 %
Dense forest 12588 26.8 11793 25.1 12788 27.2
Open forest 17596 37.4 15934 33.9 15254 32.5
Plantation forest 97 0.2 342 0.7 1733 3.7
Shrub 7061 15.0 9294 19.8 7619 16.2

The results of land cover mapping (see Figure 1 &Table 1) show that the area of
dense forest decreased during the first period and increased in the second period.
“Open forest” shows the general trend of decrease over the two periods, yet the rate
of decrease is lower in the second period as compared to the first one. “Shrub” class
shows a sharp increase in the first period and a decrease in the second-period.
Plantation forest shows general trend of increase in both periods.

129
Appendices
Appendix 3: Economic values of protected areas and incentives
(Source: ICEM, 2003)

A rapid appraisal of the goods and services provided by protected areas in Thua Thien Hue
and their associated institutional, policy and incentive issues identified the following: goods
and services provided by protected areas; links between protected areas and infrastructure or
productive activities; sectors that benefit from goods and services provided by protected
areas; the level at which each benefit is appropriated (i.e. local, provincial, national, global);
and classification of each of the goods and services in terms of its public good characteristics.

Protected areas (PAs) are important in sustaining livelihoods, supporting natural functions
that underpin economic development and providing opportunities for recreation and
enjoyment of nature. They provide a broad range of goods and services to society. These
goods and services are categorised according to the type of value they provide:

- direct use values are those from goods and services consumed directly (e.g. timber or
tourism) or part of household production (i.e. non-timber forest products);
- indirect use values measure those environmental functions that are non-marketed
(and often unrecognised) components of production (e.g. water supply or flood
control);
- option values reflect the future use of protected areas and the value of protecting
them (e.g. the conservation of genetic and biochemical material for future use in
producing new drugs); and
- existence values refer to the satisfaction derived by people from merely knowing that
the resources and biodiversity in protected areas continue to exist, even if they have
no immediate plans to visit protected areas or use them in any way (e.g. conservation
of rare or endemic species).

Benefits of protected areas may also be categorised by the way they are distributed. Economic
benefits derived from protected areas can be realised at the commune, provincial, national or
global level. This report emphasises the level at which benefits are appropriated and the way
they are perceived by economic planners. Benefits can help augment production or reduce
costs in specific economic sectors. Protected areas must be fully appreciated for all of their
values and integrated into development planning.

Traditionally, decisions regarding natural areas have been made on the basis of major direct 
uses that generate tangible, marketable local and national benefits. Typically, this has resulted 
in timber extraction or the conversion of forest to agricultural or other uses. In an effort to 
understand why some goods and services are allocated in a (more or less) optimal manner by 
markets while others are not, economists have examined their characteristics. In the process, 
the concepts of “exclusion” and “rivalry” were identified as the salient distinctions between 
private and public goods (Box 1). In general, markets achieve an appropriate allocation of 
private goods but fail to do so for public goods, including many of the environmental goods 
and services provided by protected areas. In such cases of market failure some form of 
intervention or institutional arrangement is required to realise the benefits that these areas 
can provide. 

130
Appendices
Appendix 4: List of the trees in Ha an: what encourage and discourages farmer to plant
(Source: Field survey 2004)
History and development What encourage farmers to plant What discourage farmers to
plant
Lemons - Lemons have a long history of development in Nam Dong, - Easy to grow. - Price is decreasing
producing in large quantity to supply for several central areas, - Good quality: a lot of water dramatically this year
even sometimes delivered to the north (for wine-making). - Nam Dong produces lemon in - Disease: fungus is
- The price was very good before and there are many middlemen large quantity, on a wider rampant. The disease
buying lemon. But it reduces substantially this year in price scale than other trees could be treated, but
and the market demand for lemon in Nam Dong. The reasons - Two types of lemon for costly.
maybe: the lemon growing widely in many regions and has harvesting all year around,
good seasons. take advantage of good price
- Some woman mention lemon from southern provinces out- during off-season in other
competes with lemon from Nam dong: they are big, have places
polished-skin (a lot of waters) while Nam Dong’s lemons are
small and thick-skinned
- One middleman usually goes to Ha An and Nam Dong to buy
lemon in bulk and transport to the north every seasons (many
not sure for which purpose, some think for candy factories).
However, this year this middleman warned farmers that he
will not come here in the future because lemon is also planted
in the north now, and it becomes true that he only arrived once
at the beginning of the season. Many places planted and supply
lemon, here and other place.
- The price is very low now, as noted by some experienced
farmers. They also thought that from the recent successful
labeling examples of commercial fruits in Vietnam (Ha Tay
longan, Nam Roi grape-fruit, etc.), Nam Dong should learn to
promote local specialties and apply the brand lesson.

Oranges - Oranges are the agricultural product of highest profitability - Have high market value and - Disease is growing.
now. Farmers could have good and stable incomes. stable market. Price fluctuates Many trees, both young
- The supply is small-scale, not as big as lemons and mainly slightly and old are badly
oranges sold in rural districts of Thua Thien Hue province. - affected. It could be
- Have to compete with orange from the south in Hue and Da treated, but costly. This

131
Appendices
Nang. Those has better price, better quality and quantity. A year, it is not
quick survey I made in Hue market found out that the fruit productive as previous
retailers are not aware of the Nam Dong orange and other years, farmers thought
agricultural products. it’s because of the
- They could produce orange with bigger fruits, more water – weather.
but they calculate: not profitable

Bananas - Bananas have a long history in Nam Dong, since early 80s. In - Suitable to the bio-physical - A widespread and
the last 10 years, the price and the disease has attacked bananas conditions incurable disease, (like
on a wide scale in Nam dong. - Good for soil and water cancer of human) – one
- Banana is very good products in Nam Dong, consumed mostly improvement, the root does kind of virus attacking
in Hue not compete with other trees. the banana trees on a
- Farmers’ own experience with coping with disease – to avoid, - Most productive, easy and large scale: the trees die
not to treat: plant in the shade, avoid using the pig manure for quick to produce fruits after or could not produce
banana 6-8 months. fruit
- Good price, could sell young
and ripen bananas

Trial fruit - There are many new trees: Thanh tra (grape-fruit), rambuttan, - The trees are successful in - Uncertain future prices.
trees: mango, but on very small scale. other places, farmers expect to - Not suitable to the bio-
- The district and HUAF also promote and put new trees in trial try in their garden physical conditions,
- Diversify trees and incomes low productivity, low
quality

Betel nuts - Betel nuts are popularly found in rural areas of Thua Thien - Suitable to the biophysical - Take a 5-7 year span to
Hue, and planted widely in 2-3 villages in Nam Dong, - Easy to plant, and mix with develop
especially in Huong Loc commune. other short and perennial - Several farmers think
- The betel nut fruits just have new usage: not only for traditional crops/trees. Very land-saving the price is not
use like chewing gum but also for making candies. In the last 2 (and elder farmers like the attractive enough.
years, there is new demand for buying young betel fruits for good environment benefit: Lower profitability than
making candies. People in Huong Loc commune grow the tree provide shade and bring other fruits.
mostly and also collect betel nuts from other places like Ha An. birds) - Lack of land for nig
They collect, dry and sell to middlemen, who then transport - Small investment. A tree has plantation. More
product to the north for exporting to China. There is no long life span. suitable to plant in hilly
contract, but regular transactions. - The market is stable. Farmers gardens, etc. the fence
- Many Ha An villagers discussed they plant betel nuts to take could easily sell young and or wind break.
Appendices
advantages of the land as mixed farming, not as intensive mature fruits.
plantation. The profitability is not as high as orange or lemon

Tea - Mainly to supply for the cooperative in the past 1980s, 1990s. A - Suitable to the weather, - Time- and labor-
few areas of tea plantation left in the whole district - Easy to grow consuming, while tea
plantation is not on
large-scale production
like other places in the
north Vietnam.
- Not profitable. The
price decreases
Pineapples - Originated from the district agricultural cooperative’s plan in - Suitable to the soil - Very low price
pineapple plantation, after failures in tea plantation. - Easy to grow - Labor-consuming, even
- Good quality more than tea (grass-
cutting, etc)

Pepper - Farmers grow pepper, coffee strongly in the export promotion - Easy to develop after the 1st - The first year need
of agricultural and industrial plants/trees. Vietnam in the last year planting substantial investment
few years quickly becomes one of the biggest exporters in - Vietnamese pepper going to of capital, time, and
coffee, pepper and other industrial crops have “brand” labor
- The productivity is lower than other places - - The productivity is
- Pepper’s price was very good around 99-2001 up to 75- lower than other places
85,000/kg. Recently around 2001 till now, decreased badly, to - The price is very low in
10-20,000/kg the last 3 years
- Several farmers are enthusiastic when knowing the
government is developing “Brand” for Vietnamese pepper –
expect the price will be up and stable

133
Appendices
Coffee - For most of industrial crops, Ha An and other uplands areas in - Strong and favorable cash - Not suitable to high
Nam Dong is the market –follower, with small –scale crop in Vietnam humid bio-physical
production, lower productivity and often suffer from the conditions
decreasing price tendency. - Price decreases
- In the context of high rainfall and humidity, the coffee tree - Requite a lot of
could grow easily but has flowers and fruits all year around. investment in inputs.
Therefore it is difficult for farmers to control the harvesting
season.
- Price is on decreasing tendency, coffee-planters are at a loss in
Nam Dong. The rapid rise in coffee plantation put Vietnam to
be blame for contributing to the swell of coffee supply and
plummeting prices.

Ginger - Ginger was grown early in Nam Dong in 1990s to supply to the - Easy to plant - Depend on a limited
cooperative, however the plantation reduced substantially after - Mixed farming, economical number of contract
the collapse of the cooperative and the link with former Soviet land use farming
Union. - Stable contract farming
- Recently, the district extension center establish the link with
one salt production company, setting up contract farming with
local people to plant ginger.
- Farmer also interested in black ginger for medicinal purpose

Rubber - In these sub-optimal regions, the rubber tree is considered as - Good price and stable market - Capital-intensive
trees the core in the agricultural diversification program to improve - Clear land allocation - Require time and labor
(Hevea and stabilize farmers' incomes in poor provinces, especially in - Supportive long-term credits for caring in the first 7
brasiliensis areas unsuited to other crops. Rubber tree is environmentally - Supply locally to rubber years
) suitable for the degraded uplands (2001, Hoa TTT). company - Require good soil for
- In the past, rubber experienced downward price trend in late cultivating
1990s, creating conflicting views on future direction for the -
expansion of rubber. Even, in 1997-1998, Huong Phu commune -
also encouraged farmers to cut down rubber, reserving land for
other strong cash crops such as pineapple.
- According to the Nam Dong Rubber Company and analysis
from different sources, the demand for rubber latex increases
stably, the latex is used for production in Vietnam and partly
exported to China, Japan as raw material. The price is going up
Appendices
thanks to: High demand of natural rubber and latex from
Japan, Korea, China and U.S.A; Increasing price of oil makes
the price of synthetic rubber is high as well, etc. (2004, Connell
Bros. Co. Ltd). These factors open a good opportunity for
rubber tree plantation.
- Nam Dong has a total area of 1,880 ha rubber tree or 91,6% of
the whole plantation land for perennial industrial trees/crops
(tea, coffee, pepper, betel nut, rubber) (2004, Nam Dong
statistic). There is 14 ha of rubber in Ha An. Local people
perceived it as “white gold” when the income is increasing
thanks to the rubber latex. On the whole, it would become one
main income tree in Nam Dong.
- The high level of inputs and the loans, even supported by the
bank are pushing people to harvest rubber unsustainably: sell
latex at very early stage, or over-collect the latex not every two
days but twice, three times a day instead.
- Farmers prefer to plant acacia more than rubber
- Rubber company has the monopoly purchasing power at the
price of 4-6,000d/kg, individual middlemen is prohibited (they
buy at the price of 8,000d/kg).

Lo o - Require a processing factory in the district, in order to add - Suitable to the weather - Labour-consuming, not
Bamboo value and take development opportunity for local bamboo, - Easy to sell, stable market convenient when
(native rattan... harvesting
bamboo for - Price is 2,500 – 3,000d/per tree in Nam Dong while 7,000d/tree - Mostly planted in
shoots) in Hue. Cone hat in Hue is very special and well-known protection areas:
product. watershed, farm’s
fence, etc. with small-
scale

135
Appendices
Bamboo for - Promoted by the National Park’s agroforestry project in 2002. - Very quick to produce - Require technique
chips - Many people are enthusiastic for very quick result (just after 18 products application and good
months). Women also mention about the possibility to have - Suitable to the weather, grow management in
dried product when the fresh one could not sell well. It in sloping land, watershed planting and harvesting
diversified incomes and the integrated AF system. areas – farmers are often
- Receiving free nurseries, a lot of people are careless about - Easy to plant and propagate careless about bamboo
technology adoption for plantation position and for tending. vegetative plantation.
- Farmers are concerned when a lot of places are planting this - The market and price are - Many places are
bamboo. stable. Could sell fresh and planting, the price starts
dried products. to reduce.

Tram - Aquilaria is a commodity of high economic value. In the world - Suitable to the bio-physical - Large investment: high
Huong aquilaria is used for distillation of aquilaria essential oil an conditions capital, and require a
Aquilaria important scent fixative in industry to manufacture high-class - Inter-cropping in the first year long time.
Crassna cosmetics (2000, Lam, NH.) - Very high price - Not sure about specific
Pierr - Villagers receive the tree nurseries from some AF projects of market (where to
the park and the district since 2002, and are interested to invest. export?)
- Some areas in Vietnam have developed quite well: SNV took -
some households to Quang Nam, Da Nang to see models there
(a 10 year-tree is priced at VND 15 million)
- The perceptions are different. Extension staff and some
households doubt about the result. It’s just in trial, but many
people are investing, taking the risk.
Acacia Keo - Originated from PR-327in 1993-1996, most of the forest - Requires low capital and - Problems with cutting
plantation was poorly managed at the beginning. Farmers labour investment (good care the tree, could destroy
started to be interested in the last 3 years, since there are good for the first 3 years). other tree species
economic benefits of acacia, clear land and tree tenures. - Easy to propagate vegetate.
- Most of farmers prefer to plant acacia keo tai tuong (Acacia Easy to grow.
mangium) over other timber and perennial trees: easy growth, - Less-time-consuming than
shorter time horizon, lower investment, and simple technique other timber trees
to integrate other short cycle crops. - Suitable for many sloping
- Acacia is to provide material for paper pulp factory. Little land and could be
information and analysis about the future demand and price. intercropped with others, or
- into natural forestland.
- Very good for soil
management.
Appendices
- Demand for paper is
increasing so the market and
price is very stable

Bach dan - Originated from PR-327. Slow growth - - Not suitable to the bio-
eucalyptus physical conditions.
Slow growth
Medicinal - Start planting under support of the medicinal project funded by - Low capital investment. Make - Farmers are still unclear
plants IUCN’s NTFP project and HUAF, in order to explore the good use of land under shade about the linkages to
linkage with buyers in Hue city. Several farmers planted some of the trees the market and the
medicinal herbs mostly for using in family. - Native plants, easily grow profitability of each
- Improve knowledge and use for households of medicinal and have good value plant.
plants. And the plantation makes good use of land: - Good use for family
intercropping, under the shade.
- Farmers is interested in making good business from native
plants
-
Cinnamon - Several farmers planted a lot of cinnamon, but no market - - The price and market
Que fall down

137
Appendices
Appendix 5. Prices for AF products in Ha An and Nam Dong
(Source: Field survey 2004. Colleted by Ms Thu and her relatives in October 2004)

AF products Selling price (from villagers to Comments by female villagers (time:


middlemen and in the town lunar calendar)
market) (VND)
Rice 2,500 per kg (not processed)
4,000 per kg (already processed)
Orange voi 900 per item big Peak price in the lunar 8th, 9th month
700 per item small Sell in rural of Hue
Orange Sai gon 4,5 – 5,000 per kilo (big) Peak price in the lunar 8th, 9th month
3-3,500 per kilo (small) Sell in rural of Hue
Orange chap 35,000 – 40,000 per 100 fruits (big) Peak price in te lunar 9th, 10th month
15-25,000 per 100 fruits (small) Sell in the city of Hue
Quyt 30,000 per 100 fruits
Lemon 2,000-2,500 per kg (big) Peak price in the lunar 5th, 6th month
1,000 – 1,500 per kg (small) Peak price in the last 5 years: 4,500-
5,000d per kg
Banana 30,000 – 32,000 per stem (big) Season for ripen banana: the 7th, 8th
20,000 – 25,000 per stem (small) month
During rainy seasons of the lunar
month 10th – 12th, people buy young
fruits for cooking with good price
Betel nuts 1,500 – 1,800 per kg (young fruits) Sell in Hue and to the north
50,000- 100,000 per 100 items Peak before the traditional new year
(mature fruits) 3 years ago, young ones are started to
be harvested to sell to China
Bamboo for 5,000 per big item or 2-3,000 per
chips small item
Bamboo for 1,000-3,000 per tree Price is increasing, for the demand in
construction Hue for making cone hat. The price can
be up to VND 7,000 per tree in Hue city
Fuelwood 3,000 per bundle (bo)
Cassava 12,000 per 100 kg
Corns 28,000 per kg
Pepper nuts 30,000 per kg
Peanuts 6,500 per kg
Eggs 1000 per egg
Chicken 45-50,000 per animal
Domestic Pig 13,500 per kg
Appendices
Appendix 6. Profile of policies, strategies, projects and programs in
the study site

Macro policies, programs and strategies with strong impacts on the life of rural
people, influencing their access to different assets, capital and their decisions over
development pathways:

- The New Economic Zones program of the government in 1975, located


people from the lowlands to the highlands.
- The institutional and economic reform Doi moi 1986, a transition from
centrally planning to a market-based “multi-sectoral” economy, households
replacing state cooperatives as the basic decision-making unit in agricultural
production and market exchange.
- Land-use policies and forest land allocation program: Resolution 10 (Central
Committee 1988), The Land Law 1993 established household land use rights
and increased security of tenure for farm families, but mostly for agricultural
land (Geoffrey, 1999; Bien, NN 2001). In January 1994, based on the decree
No. 02/CP and the more recent Decree No 163/ND-CP in November 1999,
the government decided to decentralize forest management and allocate
forest and forest land to households, individuals and organizations for long-
term sustainable usage (Tran Huu Nghi, 2001). Decision No. 178/2001/QD-
TTg of November 12,2001 on the benefits and obligations of households and
individuals assigned, leased or contracted forests and forestry land.
- Designation of “rung cam” (close forest) Bach Ma National Park in 1991 and
the introduction and implementation of natural resource management
policies: Forest Protection and Development Law (National Assembly 1991),
Environmental Protection Law (National Assembly 1993), and National
Action Plan on Biological Diversity approved in 1995 (Nguyen Nghia Bien,
2001).
- Grassroots democracy decrees, such as Decree 29/1998/ND-CP in May 1998,
later amended by Decree 79/2003/ND-CP in July 2003 in an effort to
reinforce the rights of the people at the commune and village levels to
participate in local government affairs. “The Regulation on the exercise of
democracy in communes aims to bring into full play the commune people's
right to mastery and their creativity, mobilizing the people's great material
and spiritual strengths for socio-economic development” (Vietnam, 2003).
- A range of development strategies formulated in the last five years serve as a
policy and institutional framework underpinning poverty reduction efforts in
Vietnam. The current Vietnam development framework is composed of
various strategies: The ten-year socio-economic development plan (2001-
2010), the five-year socio-economic development plan (2001-2005), the
Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (CPRGS), and the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)-based Vietnam Development Goals.
These emphasize the need for good governance for poverty reduction and the
importance of reducing gender and ethnic inequality in order to make
development more inclusive. (SNV, 2004; Vietnam, 2002)

To realize and implement those policies and strategies, there are a number of
projects, programs on poverty alleviation, rural development and natural resource
management: “From now to the 2000, active and steady measures should be taken to

139
Appendices
achieve the three main targets of eradicating hunger, alleviating poverty and
stabilizing and improving the living conditions and the health of people of ethnic
minorities as well as of inhabitants in mountain and border areas” (Development
Orientations in Key fields, a document of the VIIIth national Party Congress of
Vietnam in 1996, cited in Ikemoto, 2001):

- Afforestation programs: PAM (Programme Alimentaire Mondial - with


support of United Nations’ World Food Program) before 1990s and the
reforestation program PR-327 (the National Program on restoration of barren
lands and Denuded Hills) in 1993-1996 (completed), and later PR-661 (the
Five million hectare Programme) since 1997. Main objectives of these
programs are to re-green the barren hills and promote rural development
with the plantation of fast-growing species: acacia, eucalyptus, rubber, etc.
- Programme on socio-economic development for communes in extreme
difficulty in mountainous and remote areas, carried out by a number of
agencies: Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, Ministry of
agriculture and rural development, Committee for Ethnic Minorities and
Mountainous Areas (CEMMA):
o PR-133: National Target Program for Hunger Eradication and
Poverty Reduction started in 1998, is a multi-sector program with 20
ministries involved in the implementation. The content and main
activities of projects under PR-133 are: Sedentarization, resettlement
and new economic zones development; Infrastructure development in
poor communes and resettlement; Promotion of agriculture and off-
farm production; Extension services for agriculture, forestry and
fisheries; Income generation; and Assistance to ethnic minorities
facing extreme difficulties (WWF2 and 3, 2003)
o PR-135: The Program for the most Difficult and Remote Communes,
focuses on the extreme difficult mountainous and remote areas. This
program initiated from 1998, administered by CEMMA, aims to
generate income and employment, improve infrastructure and build
local administrative capacity. Huong Phu is one among 1,870
especially disadvantaged communes, which account for 18% of all
communes in Vietnam, whose total population amounts to 7 millions.
PR-135 is aimed at accelerating socio-economic conditions in the most
remote and under privileged highland communes. In 5-7 years the
main objective of the program is to improve road access, irrigation
works, schools, health stations and water and electric supply systems
(Ikemoto, 2001; WWF3, 2003).
o Settled agriculture and resettlement project: to stabilize people’s
lives, as well as manufacturing and forest protection around shifting
cultivation zones. The Department of Settled Agriculture,
Resettlement and New Economic Zones under the Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is the controlling
agency. Activities include reclaiming virgin soil, practising intensive
farming, installing small irrigation schemes, growing commercial
trees, afforestation, building infrastructure such as roads, health
centres, kindergartens, plus moving and stabilizing villages. (WWF3,
2003)
o Programmes on subsidizing product prices, costs and consumption:
This programme helps to provide raw materials and services, and to
Appendices
influence the circulation and consumption of products by people. The
target groups of this programme are those living in difficult
communes.

- A number of community-based development and conservation projects with


support from many national, international organisations and
nongovernmental organisations through various means (experience sharing,
provision of technical assistance, and funds) over past years. These are in line
with government programs and policies in sustainable development for
people living in remote and biodiversity-sensitive areas

o Agricultural Diversification Project started in 1998, using World


Bank loan, aims to diversify and intensify agricultural production so
as to increase and stabilize farmers ' incomes and rural employment in
the poor central highland and coastal provinces of Vietnam. The
project has the main interventions in rubber planting, crop plant
cultivation, road construction. (WWF3, 2003; WB, 1998)
o Central Region Livelihood Improvement Project (2002-2006), funded
by ADB/DFID, has been designed to upgrade the socioeconomic
infrastructure and to increase employment and income generating
opportunities for the rural population. A critical feature of the
proposed Project is its focus on developing innovative natural
resource management strategies linked to social development
objectives. Main activities: rural infrastructure construction,
agriculture development, training, capacity building, credit (WWF3,
2003; ADB, 2001).
o The Ta Trach reservoir project is planning to create Ta Trach dam on
the southernmost branch of the upper Huong River (also known as
“the Perfume River”) in Thua Thien Hue Province, Central Vietnam.
The project is largely justified on the grounds that the reservoir will
mitigate the damaging effects of flooding, which is a very serious
problem in Thua Thien Hue province. However, the project is also
seen to have multiple purposes including supplying water for
agricultural, industrial and domestic consumption, generating
electricity and helping to prevent salt intrusion into the lower section
of the Huong River during the dry season. The Government of
Vietnam asked for a US$ 170 million loan from the Japan Bank for
International Cooperation (JBIC) to finance this project. The
Government had already produced a feasibility study that was
validated by the Prime Minister of Vietnam. (WWF, 2004)
o The Green Corridor Project - meeting global conservation targets in a
productive landscape, funded by WWF, GEF and SNV (2004-2008).
The project’ objectives are: To protect and maintain the high global
conservation value of the productive landscape in the Green Corridor
between Bach Ma National Park and Phong Dien Nature Reserve.
Main activities: training, awareness-raising, strengthening regulations
and enforcement, providing incentives for maintaining forest cover
(Mulder, J 2004)
o The integrated rural development projects funded by Bread for the
World (BFTW) started in 2002, and by Nordic Assistance to Vietnam
(NAV) (1994-2004), is focusing on: Food security including

141
Appendices
agriculture, income-generating activities and credit; Water and
sanitation, including health; Education; Emergency Preparedness;
Capacity building (Huong Phu, 2004; WWF3, 2003; Mulder, 2004)
o Buffer-zone development and Bach Ma National Park Management
project, supported by The German Development Service (DED),
advises park staff on alternative income generation in the buffer zone
and sustainable use of natural resources in order to develop a
sustainable approach combining nature conservation and socio-
economic development. Main activities: Construction of irrigation
systems; Livestock-raising and trees plantation; Energy-saving stoves;
Community-based tourism; Capacity-building, etc.
o Different plantation projects, supported by the district, the park,
HUAF or international NGOs in the last 3-4 years under above
development programs: the district promotion programs to plant cash
crops and improve gardening with the support of inputs and
nurseries (orange, mandarin, coconut, rambuttan...); the agroforestry
project supported by BMNP; HUAF- IUCN-NTFP medicinal plants;
bamboo for chips, etc.); Tropenbos – funded project on Sustainable
forestry/agro-forestry systems for the buffer zone of Bach Ma
National Park; etc.
o Participatory Land-use Planning and Forestland Allocation
component was implemented during the period 2000-2004 within the
framework of the project “Strengthening Forestry Management
Capacity in TT Hue province”: Support to the State Forest Enterprise
renovation process; Piloting forest land use planning and forest land
allocation to households; Piloting the allocation of natural forest to
households; Capacity building of provincial, district and commune
authorities, technical departments, service providers and interest
groups with a focus on a coordinated planning and monitoring of
interventions in the forestry sector. (SNV, 2004)
o A number of capacity building projects, such as Extension and
Training Support Project for Forestry and Agriculture in the Uplands,
the follow-up project of the Social Forestry Support Programme - SFSP
(1994-2002), supported by Swiss Agency for Development and
Cooperation (SDC). These are to build capacity for individuals and
organizations of different levels working in the field.

The above list of policies, strategies and programs in rural and upland development
and in conservation management has influenced and continues to influence the
village of Ha An in the context of Huong Phu as a buffer zone commune of BMNP,
or in the context of Nam Dong as an upland district.
Appendices
Appendix 7. Persons contacted
Name Position/ organisation Contact details
Aaron Becker Vietnam Co-director, Forestmap3@hotmail.com
The Australian Foundation
for the Peoples of Asia and
the Pacific
Bui Dinh Toai Extension/PRA expert
Dai Peters Project Leader, Email: d.peters@cgiar.org
Small-scale Agroenterprise Website: www.saduproject.org
Development for the
Uplands (SADU)
CIAT-Hanoi
Dau Quoc Anh Head, International 58/28/164 Mai Dich Cau Giay
Relations Department Tel: (84-4) 8372680
Eco-Eco (Institute of Email: dauquocanh@hn.vnn.vn
ecological economy)
Do Thi Hong Lecturer, Faculty of Forestry mainguyen63@yahoo.com
Mai HUAF
Harm Duiker Programme Co-ordinator 105-112, D1 Van Phuc Diplomatic
NRM/ SNV Vietnam Compound-HANOI Tel: (84-4) 846
3791 Fax:(84-4) 846 3794 E-mail:
harm@snv.org.vn mobile: 0903 213
266 corporate e-mail:
hduiker@snvworld.net
Hoang Lien Son Researcher, hlson2000@yahoo.com
Vietnam Forestry Research
Institute
Joe Peters Faculty of Environmental Address: 32 Linh Lang, Cong Vi, Ba
Sciences, Hanoi University Dinh Hanoi, Vietnam.
of Science, Vietnam National Tel/Fax: 84-4-834-8481.
University, and Natural Email: peterjoe@gvsu.edu
Resources Management,
Grand Valley State
University, USA
La Quang Trung Biologist/FFI laquangtrung@yahoo.com
Le Khac Quyet Biologist/FFI Quyet.khac.le@ffi.org.vn

Le Thi Dien Lecturer, Faculty of Forestry quangbao@pmail.vnn.vn


HUAF
Le Van Thuyet Researcher 04.8362229
Vietnam Forestry Research
Institute
Lutz Lehmann Forester, Engineer for Phone: 054- 871 134
ForestryNature Reserve Fax: 054- 871 299
BACH MA, Hue Province E-Mail:
DED’s development worker, lutzdedbachma@dng.vnn.vn
Ngo Tri Dung AIT Ph.D. student dzungtringo@yahoo.com

143
Appendices
Nguyen Ba Ngai Head of Scientific 09112062179
Management and 034 840441
International Co-operation
Department, Vietnam
Forestry University
Nguyen Ngoc Project coordinator/ FFI Quang_nguyenffi@yahoo.com
Quang
Nguyen The Project Coordinator, ETSP, http://www.etsp.org.vn/about_us.
Bach Helvetas htm
the.bach@socialforestry.org.vn
Nguyen Van Project Officer/ Coopération Phuc@cidse.org.vn
Phuc Internationale pour
le Développement et la
Solidarité (CIDSE)
Nguyen Xuan Team leader. Nguyen_xuan_van@wvi.org
Van Thanh Hoa project, World
vision
Paul C.L. Senior Forestry Advisor E-mail forestry@dng.vnn.vn or
Anspach SNV Project Strengthening paul@snvnc.org.vn
Forestry Management
Capacity in Thua Thien Hue
Province

Paulo N. Director, pascolan@laguna.net


Pasicolan Upland Resource and
Development Center
Isabela State University,
Cabagan, Isabela
Philippines
Peter Calkin Lava University pcalkins@fetp.vnn.vn
peter.calkins@eac.ulaval.ca

Rob Primmer FFI, Conservationist robert.primmer@ffi.org.vn


Tran Nam Thang Asian Institute of
Techonology (AIT) M.Sc.
student
Trinh Dinh Biologist/FFI tdhoangffi@yahoo.com
Hoang
Victor Pinga Food Security and No 5, Alley 40, Xuan Dieu Street,
Sustainable Agriculture Quang An Ward, Tay Ho District
Chief of Party. Hanoi, , Vietnam
Counterpart International Phone: +84 (4) 7199690
Vietnam Fax: +84 (4) 7199691
vpinga@cpi.org.vn