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January 9, 2008

A review of cassava in Asia with country case studies on Thailand and Viet Nam



www.fao.org/docrep/009/y1177e/y1177e00.htm - 28k

STATUS OF CASSAVA IN VIET NAM:
IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT


Hoang Kim (1), Pham Van Bien (2) and R.H. Howeler (3)

1) Director, Hung Loc Agricultural Research Center (HARC); Leader of National Program of Cassava Breeding and Dissemination; Secretary of National Root Crops Program.
2) Director, Institute of Agricultural Science of South Viet Nam (IAS); Coordinator of National Cassava Program.
3) CIAT Cassava Asian Regional Program, Dept. Agric, Chatuchak, Bangkok, Thailand

International fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Rome, Italy

Institute for Agricultural Science of South Viet Nam (IAS)
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT)
Cali, Colombia

The objectives of the study are:

To analyse the past and present situation of cassava in Viet Nam, with a view to describing the lessons learned from past development interventions and their implications for a strategy of future investment in cassava research and development

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Cassava plays an important socio-economic role as a secondary crop in Viet Nam. In the north the crop is an important source of food and feed at the household level; in the south mainly as a source of cash income. In South Viet Nam cassava is predominantly used as a raw material for processing into a wide range of products, both at the household and small-scale processor level, generating employment in the rural sector.

Over the last seventeen years (1980–1997) the total area of secondary food crops has decreased, especially for sweet potato and cassava, while the maize area increased. Cassava has declined in the last seventeen years because of its relatively low profitability (low yield), low (or fluctuating) demand, price fluctuations and marketing problems. Soil fertility problems are also important. Processing is constrained, especially by raw material supply fluctuations and quality. The potential for processing technology is significant.

Cassava yields can potentially increase through the development of improved varieties; appropriate fertilizer use; intercropping or the rotation of cassava and beans; erosion control; weed control by mechanical or chemical means; and by more efficient crop management (especially labour). Cassava product marketing efficiency can be significantly improved by better information (price) and management of marketing systems.

Cassava varietal dissemination in Viet Nam has made rapid and consistent progress. The Viet Nam Root Crops Program, in cooperation with CIAT, has recently (1993–1996) selected and recommended two new cassava varieties: KM 60 and KM 94. In South Viet Nam the new cultivars are now planted on a fairly large acreage, already generating additional economic benefits of about five million US$, which is shared by processors, production organizers and small farmers according to their size of operation. In North Viet Nam, the total economic scale is much smaller; yet, little by little the new cultivars are spreading widely; here the additional cassava yields are converted into additional pig sales per family. It appears to be the most equitable contribution of crop breeding. Cassava, with the immediate possibility of yield increases, will play an increasingly important role as an income generator to upland farmers in Viet Nam.

Principal experiences in linking cassava R&D activities in Viet Nam include:

Establishment of the Viet Nam Cassava Research and Extension Network (including advanced cassava farmers, researchers, extensionists, managers of cassava research and development projects, cassava trade and processing companies);

The conducting of on-farm research, demonstration trials and farmer participatory research (FPR); and

Ten mutual link-up activities (10Ts).

Six essential conditions for a successful cassava R&D program include: Materials, Markets, Management, Methods, Manpower and Money (6 Ms). Viet Nam now has favourable conditions for cassava development. However, other problems should be taken into account: price fluctuations and unstability of the market; crop competition; varietal degradation; varietal mixtures and genetic erosion; soil fertility degradation and erosion; high labour requirements; lack of financial resources and facilities from the government to support the cassava technology transfer work (while cassava farmers are very poor, especially those living in the midlands and mountainous regions where root and tuber crops are important food crops).

During the coming years the cassava planting area in Viet Nam will not be increased, but will remain within the range of 300 000 to 500 000 ha. However, cassava yields will increase by the adoption of new cassava varieties and more intensive cultural practices. On-farm research and transfer of technology for cassava production are key factors for cassava development. They are an important bridge linking science with production. Another top priority is to link small cassava farmers and processors to regional and international growth markets of cassava starch-based products by expanding existing cassava market, process and products analyses in Southeast Asia. This will serve as a basis for developing an action plan for integrated R&D of cassava production, processing and marketing.

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