Farrners harvest green as part of GROW Vietnam. Credit: Oxfam Vietnam

Oxfam launched its global GROW campaign in 2011 to tackle the pervasive injustices in the global food system.

This means that almost 800 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. The campaign recognises that a host of factors such as climate change, land acquisitions, food price spikes and intensive farming are forcing millions of people to go hungry every day. It aims to ensure that the global food production system benefits everyone, including small-scale farmers.

In Vietnam, Oxfam has been part of the GROW campaign since 2012. The campaign in Vietnam is focused on protecting smallholder farmers’ rights to natural resources, promoting their voice in policy processes and expanding their livelihood choices.

More than two-thirds of Vietnam’s population live in rural areas. Many are small-scale farmers who live in poverty or very close to the poverty line and who do not have sufficient access to food. Natural resources are also being rapidly exploited, and land, water and forest areas are all coming under increasing strain. This affects small-scale farmers whose livelihoods depend on natural resources. Finally, poor and small-scale farmers are vulnerable to natural disasters, climate change and external shocks, such as volatile market prices.

Phase One

The first phase of the Vietnam GROW campaign (2012-2015) has focused on raising awareness among key stakeholders, including policy makers and farmers, of why it is important to promote smallholder farmers’ rights, choices and voice. The campaign has also worked to change the policy environment so that it provides more favourable conditions for stronger collaboration among farmers and businesses.

In 2015, this has included research on how farmers’ rights, choices and voice have been promoted through different kinds of farmer organisations. Work has also been undertaken to build greater understanding in the media of the importance of food justice and to capture the stories of small-scale farmers through, for example, media field trips, media workshops and the setting up of a network of journalists covering agricultural and rural issues.

Partly as a result of the campaign there is now a much greater public focus on the need to protect small-scale farmers. For example, there has been growing media interest and reporting on the topic. The Vietnam Fatherland Front has publically acknowledged the importance of small-scale farmers and is keen to discuss how to best protect and organise them.

Phase Two

The second phase of the campaign will build on existing Oxfam programmes and projects and will continue the work on policy research and advocacy, media engagement and mobilising of farmers. In particular, the campaign will focus on improvement of public and private investment to support small scale farmers to get better access to production resources, promote their resilience to climate change and shocks and enhance their voices and choices in the agricultural production/value chains.

Partners and Collaborations

As part of the campaign, Oxfam is working with a number of think tanks and research institutes. The aim is to generate research that can be used for advocacy purposes, but also to build up the knowledge base of these organisations and to help them become thought leaders.

In addition, Oxfam collaborates with a network of farmer organisations and farmer leaders, helping to strengthen the network and making sure it can more effectively take part in policy debates and engage with policy makers. Oxfam also works closely with government partners, including the Department of Cooperatives and Rural Development of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). For example, during the recent revision of the decree on farmer collaboration, MARD took on board a number of recommendations from an Oxfam-supported research report, including suggestions on diversifying farmer collaboration models. MARD has also decided to support the farmer leader network mentioned above, thereby ensuring its long-term sustainability.

The GROW campaign in Vietnam works closely with a number of other Oxfam project partners, including the agriculture coalition of the Coalition Support Programme. The GROW campaign team has worked together with the coalition to set up the Vietnam Agricultural Forum – a quarterly platform for different stakeholders, including government officials, NGOs, academics and farmers, to discuss agriculture-related topics.