|Livestock Research for Rural Development 15 (1) 2003
Citation of this paper
(Paper presented at the NIAH-CIRAD
workshop on Trends of animal production in Vietnam to the year 2010, held in Hanoi on
24-25 October 2002)
meet a rapid growth of demand for animal products in Vietnam intensification of animal
production is indispensable. That is because there are now important socio-economic
constraints to increasing animal production in the traditional mixed smallholder systems,
although they have been reasonably productive and inherently sustainable. However,
introduction of intensive animal production units with imported modern technologies for
higher productivity may, on the other hand, result in consequences that are not in line
with development targets such as alleviation of poverty, creation of jobs, more equitable
life styles, protection of the environment, and conservation of biodiversity. This
warrants researches for appropriate ways of intensification of animal production.
Therefore, a conceptual framework is herein proposed for development of management,
technical and policy approaches toward appropriate intensification of animal production
without the dilemma between unsustainable high productivity and low-productive
The rapid increase in
disposable incomes of the people has resulted in higher and higher rates of consumption of
animal products in Vietnam. To meet the growing demand, Vietnam, as an agricultural
country, cannot rely on imports of animal products. Domestic animal production must, in
one or another way, provide more and more consumable outputs with better and better
animal production has been an integral part of mixed smallholder systems in Vietnam. In a
low-income country, these integrated crop-animal systems have considerable advantages
compared with specialized cropping or animal production in that although each of these
integral sub-systems may function independently, they are nevertheless complementary and
synergistic. The integration and synergism of the sub-systems can produce a greater output
than the sum of their individual effects. Such integrated crop-animal systems allow for
minimizing wastes through recycling, which in turn reduces the need for raw materials from
outside, minimizing risks for farmers. In addition, they can help to protect the
environment and conserve biodiversity owing to using indigenous inputs, which also require
less agro-chemicals. Greater use of indigenous knowledge and more complete use of rural
labor in these systems ensure high productivity, income and access to goods and services
of the rural population. Thanks to these integrated farming systems, if it were
assessed in terms of sustainable agriculture it (Vietnam) would be among the leaders
The traditional integrated
crop-animal systems, which have often been developed over hundreds of years, are
reasonably productive and inherently sustainable. However, it should be recognized that
there are now important socio-economic constraints to increasing animal production in such
mixed smallholder systems (Ogle and Phuc 1997). Especially, they are now challenged due to
declining farm size and raising consumer demand for animal products. As a result,
intensive animal production is indispensable because intensive production systems can
produce more outputs per unit of land resource than the traditional systems. Actually,
middle-scale animal farms and large-scale animal production units have been recently
developed in peri-urban areas, satisfying an important part of the consumer demand in the
big cities (Le Viet Ly 2000).
Nevertheless, it is of increasing concern nowadays that undesirable ecological and sociological consequences may result from intensification of animal production. The present paper is, therefore, aimed to discuss possible negative impacts of inappropriate intensification of animal production and then propose a conceptual framework for improved animal production with environmental and socio-economic sustainability.
experienced in many developing countries, although intensification of animal production
can bring more animal products per unit of resource, thus better meeting the increasing
demands for domestic consumption as well as export, imported technologies for such
intensive animal production have almost always failed to overcome the constraints imposed
on local farming systems or to meet the socio-economic requirements of farmers (Sansoucy
The following consequences of introducing large-scale intensive livestock production
systems with imported modern technologies are possible and should be taken into account.
important question of concern is how intensification of animal production should be
undertaken in a densely populated country with the majority living in rural areas. Intensification
of animal production with use of technologies imported from developed countries means
minimum use of labor and maximum use of labor saving devices. The labor saving
technologies would in turn require the use of large amounts of fossil fuels. Two main
factors that would lead to such intensive animal production systems are high cost of labor
and low cost of fossil fuels. This is not the case of Vietnam where around 80% of the
population (c.a. 80 million) live in rural areas and approximately 70% of these rely on
agriculture for employment and income.
In Vietnam there is still a big problem of rural poverty which urgently needs to be alleviated. In the years to come the challenge is to decrease rural poverty in rural areas as only a limited amount of people can be absorbed into urban businesses (Orskov 2001). Introduction of modern large-scale industrial livestock units would lead to problems for smallholder producers who cannot compete for available feed resources and markets (Ogle and Phuc 1997) and may not have the skills for the more sophisticated management which is required (Preston 1995). This will ultimately result in a reduction in rural employment opportunities and easily turn the problem of rural unemployment into an even greater problem of urban unemployment (Figure 1). So, intensive animal production may benefit a few capable people at the expense of the majority who will lose their shares in common resources, both tangible and intangible, and job opportunities. Consequently, the disadvantaged people will be faced with empoverishment, the gap between the few rich and the major poor will be larger and larger, and social evils will become a heavy burden. Clearly, modern intensive animal production models imported from developed countries are sociologically unsustainable under the circumstances of a developing country like Vietnam.
|Figure 1: Increased sociological problems due to inappropriate intensification of animal production
Intensive animal production systems based on imported genetics, technologies and feeds are also economically unsustainable (Figure 2). They are first subjected to changes in price and availability of the inputs, to say nothing of difficulty marketing products in the changeable international markets. Under certain conditions the producers can earn much profit by using low-priced imported feeds, but their businesses are vulnerable to any economic instability (Le Viet Ly 2000). These intensive systems will generally increase foreign exchange deficit due to high imports. In addition, the producers need to have high management skills and technical expertise, whereas the margins gained may be small. Another factor contributing to economic risks for these intensive systems is the introduced exotic animals being highly susceptible to diseases and vulnerable to hardship under unfavorable tropical climate conditions. The dangers of introducing inappropriate imported technologies have been well illustrated in the recent economic crisis in other South-East Asia countries. For example, in Indonesia 80% of the poultry industry went bankrupt causing many problems of food supplies and malnutrition (Orskov 2001).
Figure 2: Increased economic risks due to inappropriate intensification
of animal production
Negative impacts of inappropriate intensification of animal production on the
environment and biodiversity
of the environment and biodiversity is of increasing concern nowadays. That is because
human activities are causing alarming levels of atmospheric contamination, deforestation,
erosion, soil and water pollution and loss of biodiversity, which are all affecting
peoples livelihood and health, and threatening sustainable development (Preston
1995). Modern large-scale industrial livestock units, which are partly based on imported
concentrate feeds and exotic breeds, have recently been introduced into Vietnam. This will
easily lead to problems to the environment and biodiversity (Figure 3). In such intensive
production units the high animal population will produce too much excreta while there are
not enough associated crops to recycle it. They will also result in a reduction in the
numbers of indigenous animals, which are highly tolerant to diseases and efficient in
utilizing local feeds, especially agricultural by-products and household leftovers.
The above mentioned possible consequences of introducing intensive production systems with inappropriate technologies imported from developed countries should imply that they are not sustainable in social and ecological terms for Vietnam. Therefore, any strategies for intensification of animal production in the country must keep balance between the intensification targets and sustainable development targets (Figure 4).
4: Needed balance between intensification targets and sustainable development targets
of animal production in Vietnam should thus be aimed at
the following integrated targets:
productivity without compromising ecological benefits and job opportunities.
- Increased economic growth together with alleviation of rural poverty and attainment of food security.
- Increased income of the producers coupled with improved social welfare and equitable life styles.
Putting all together, it would be now convenient to introduce a conceptual framework for intensification and further improvement of animal production in Vietnam to be able not only to meet the rapidly increasing demand for animal products but also ensure sustainable development (Figure 5).
Figure 5: A conceptual framework for intensification and further improvement of animal production in Vietnam
obtain the balanced targets, efforts to rationally intensify animal production need to
take into account the available natural resources as well as the socio-economic
environments. Efficient management strategies, appropriate technical interventions and
sound policies are then required. Researches for them are needed and should be focused on:
- Improving efficiency in the use and
management of natural resources to optimize the capacity of the local ecosystem to produce
increased animal products;
- Matching genetic potentials of animals with local feed resources, climate conditions, and animal husbandry expertise;
- Maximizing the use of indigenous knowledge and labor;
- Minimizing wastes through recycling and improved utilization of byproducts to reduce the need for external raw materials and help to protect the environment;
- Intensification of small-scale animal production which can create more job opportunities;
- Developing technologies with farmer participation to ensure high levels of adoption and sustainability.
- Improving smallholder livestock production through improved nutrition, animal health, animal genetics and extension of information to producers;
- Increasing the value of livestock production to smallholder producers by effective processing and marketing of their products ;
- Developing sound policies for better use of common resources and fair commodity prices.
Le Viet Ly 2000 Development of a sustainable
animal production system based on the advantage of tropical agriculture. Workshop-seminar
on Making better use of local feed resources. January, 2000. SAREC-UAF.
Ogle B and Phuc B H N 1997
Sustainable intensive livestock-based systems in Vietnam. IRDCurrent 14: 16-22.
Orskov E R 2001 Sustainable resources management and
rural development in Vietnam. Paper presented at the seminar on ruminant nutrition held in
Hanoi on 12 January 2001 by Vietnam Animal Husbandry Association.
Preston T R 1995
Strategy for sustainable use of natural renewable resources: constraints and
opportunities. Tropical Feeds and Feeding Systems. FAO. Pp: 121-144.
Sansoucy R 1995
Livestock-a driving force for food security and sustainable development. World Animal Review No 84-85.
Received 2 November 2002; Accepted 4 January 2003