Sustainable Ecological Livelihood and Food Sovereignty
What development in the food and agriculture system of Vietnam do you observe that are threatening for biodiversity, environment and livelihoods of farmers and indigenous communities?
With the globalisation of the market economy in a relentless search for ever-increasing levels of economic growth, the balance of humans and nature is rapidly being destroyed. This is seen nowhere more clearly in Vietnam than in the expansion of industrial agriculture into areas previously preserved in their ecological integrity by rural populations practicing tradition (non-industrial) forms of agriculture. As the new agricultural technologies encroach upon these territories, the traditional rural communities living there are suffering new forms of land dispossession, and cultural and livelihood destruction. Their traditional systems of food production based upon a human-nature balance are rapidly being destroyed. It is SPERI’s view that these traditional systems need to be protected, preserved, and strengthened, not only for the populations they support but also for the important lessons they hold for sustainable natural resource management. This is more than an issue of social justice: given the horrendous destruction wrought by industrialization upon biological and cultural diversity it is an matter of species survival.
Traditional ecological systems of agriculture that have lasted for hundreds of years, sustaining not only highland populations but also lowland communities to whose fields the highland ecosystem delivers valuable nutrients in a steady flow of fresh clean water are now under dire threat from the encroachment of industrial forms of agriculture. The latter, aimed at profit making via the forced extraction of bulk agricultural commodities from the soil through the application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, are destroying the life-giving agro-ecological processes that traditional forms of agriculture have preserved and nurtured for centuries. To find space for industrial enterprises, with their mono-crops, processing factories, and hydropower schemes, vast tracts of natural forest and large areas of slope-land, formerly used to feed local populations, are being turned over to the production of animal feed, biofuels, or intensive systems dairy and meat production now scientifically recognised as the most environmentally damaging and wasteful of all forms of food production.