Gender Transformative and Responsible Agribusiness Investments in South East Asia

Vietnam is a global leader in seafood production. Shrimp alone is an important livelihood source for over one million people, the vast majority of whom are small-scale producers. However, the booming industry is associated with a number of environmental and social problems. For example, mangroves are being destroyed to make way for shrimp farms, there are pollution issues, and wild shrimp and fish stocks are being depleted.

In addition, although many women work in the seafood industry, their contributions are often not valued or recognised. Women have less access to technical training, credit and networks and, as a result, have fewer opportunities to increase their incomes.  

There is therefore a need to ensure that small-scale producers, in particular women, benefit from development of the shrimp value chain. The industry needs to integrate sustainable and responsible practices to minimise the negative impacts of shrimp production on surrounding communities. However, the government has yet to set up a framework to guide corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. Seafood companies themselves lack an understanding of the importance of compliance with CSR standards.

A responsible shrimp value chain

Oxfam contributes to the development of a responsible and sustainable shrimp value chain in Vietnam that protects local communities from the negative impacts of shrimp production. Our aim is to strengthen the voices of women and small-scale producers and ensure they benefit from their involvement in the seafood industry. These efforts are part of the “Gender Transformative and Responsible Agribusiness Investments in South East Asia” (GRAISEA) regional programme, which is focused on improving livelihoods for small-scale producers across Southeast Asia through responsible value chains and private sector investments that take both women and men’s concerns and needs into account.

Promoting CSR standards and strengthening the role of women

In Vietnam, Oxfam encourages the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to develop regulatory frameworks that guide the implementation and monitoring of CSR practices in the aquaculture sector, and which conform to international standards on gender equality and the environment. The aim is to ensure that a series of CSR benchmarks are agreed by the relevant stakeholders and that public awareness of these benchmarks is increased.

Second, we are supporting small-scale producers, in particular women, to strengthen their role in the value chain and apply responsible practices and standards. As part of this, the project promotes women’s role in shrimp production by encouraging shared decision-making and equal division of labour between men and women. Oxfam builds the capacity of shrimp value chain actors, such as producers, traders and exporters, to take both women’s and men’s perspectives and voices into account. In addition, small-scale producers, especially women, are given skills training on topics such as financial management, planning and market access, helping them to increase the value of their products and increase their income.

The final outcome is to ensure that a regulatory framework and good practices on CSR are adopted by the target aquaculture companies, with a particular focus on the shrimp value chain. This includes monitoring aquaculture companies’ performance against certain CSR standards, taking the interests of women working in the sector into account and minimising the negative impact of shrimp production on local communities.

Oxfam is cooperating with two Vietnamese partners: the Centre for Marine Life Conservation and Community Development (MCD) and ICAFIS, which is part of the Vietnam Fisheries Society. GRAISEA activities are concentrated in the two Mekong Delta provinces of Ca Mau and Soc Trang, which together account for 60 percent of Vietnam’s shrimp production.


Project: Gender Transformative and Responsible Agribusiness Investments in South East Asia (GRAISEA)

Location: Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam

Time frame: 2015-2018

Funding: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency