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Development of rice and shrimp farming systems in coastal areas of the Mekong Delta: Policy and Institutional issues

Introduction

Shrimp monoculture has gradually encroached on the buffer zone in the coastal region of the Mekong Delta which is suited to the rice-shrimp rotation system. Deciding between these two production systems poses a dilemma. There is a trade-off between short-term economic benefits and long-term sustainable land use. A full assessment of long-term social benefit for these two production systems is needed to help guide decisions about sustainable land use.

Research objectives

In this research project, a cost-benefit analysis of the two production systems in the coastal region will be conducted.  This will be followed by an assessment of livelihoods of local inhabitants to understand the linkages between the production systems and the implications for producers’ livelihoods. The project will also investigate alternative institutional mechanisms to ensure that these production systems promote long-term social welfare.

Research questions

[1] Which production system, either rotation rice-shrimp or shrimp monoculture, uses land more efficiently over the long term in the buffer zone in the coastal area of the Mekong Delta?

[2] What are the linkages between observed production systems and local livelihoods, and which production system is more sustainable in terms of livelihood outcomes?

[3] What policies and institutional changes are required to foster the sustainable production system found by answering the two questions above? 

Research areas

The research will be conducted in four coastal provinces of the Mekong Delta including Bac Lieu, Ca Mau, Soc Trang and Tra Vinh.

Methodology

The research will employ a participatory approach conducted by an interdisciplinary research team.