Viet Nam

vietnamVietnam is a Southeast-Asian country located at the eastern end of the Indochina Peninsula. Its capital is Hanoi, and its population, according to 2012 estimates is about 91.5 million people. Vietnam was able to join the World Trade Organization in 2007 due to its economic reforms and amazingly rapid growth since 2000. 




Vietnam is divided into 64 provinces. There are five municipalities, which administratively enjoy the same status as provinces. The provinces are subdivided into municipalities, townships, and counties. The counties are subdivided into towns or communes, which are further subdivided into wards. The country has a number of active seaports.

The climate of Vietnam varies in various locations. The winter season in most parts of the country is dry as compared to the summer or rainy season. Plains are generally warmer than the mountainous areas as are southern areas compared to the northern region.

About 80 percent of Vietnam’s population lives in rural areas, and there are over 11 million household farms in the country. Individual farm sizes vary but are generally small, about 0.2 hectares. Land reforms undertaken by the government have recognized the household as the basic unit of production and, as such, have allocated land use rights to the households. These rights, according to the Land Law of 1993, can be transferred, exchanged, leased, inherited or mortgaged. The process of land reform, however, continues with more changes expected.

In 2004, agriculture and forestry sectors accounted for 21.8 percent of Vietnam’s GDP. In 2005, about 60 percent of the labor force was employed in agriculture, forestry and fishery. During the same year, agricultural products constituted about 30 percent of the exports. Rice is cultivated in over 94 percent of arable land, and an elaborate system of irrigation in the northern region enables farmers to raise two to three crops annually. Vietnam is one of the top three largest rice exporters in the world. Its other cash crops are coffee, cotton, peanuts, sugarcane, tea and rubber. The main food crops, other than rice, include maize, cassava, sweet potato and beans.



History of extension and the enabling/disabling environment 

A formal public extension system in Vietnam was started by the government in March 1993 with the establishment of the National Agricultural and Forestry Extension Department within the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD). The task of extension in fishery was allocated to the Department of Aquaculture Management within the Ministry of Fishery. The government established 64 Provincial Agricultural and Forestry Extension Centers, that is one center in each of the 64 provinces, under the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

In 2003, the National Agricultural and Forestry Extension Department was divided into two units: National Agricultural Extension Center (NAEC), and Department of Agriculture (DoA). Both units, however, remain under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. At the same time, the National Fishery Extension Center was created within the Ministry of Fishery.

In January 2008, when the Ministry of Fishery was merged into the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Fishery Extension Center was also merged into the NAEC. At present, NAEC is the national level extension organization, which covers disciplines of agriculture, livestock, forestry, fishery and rural industry. Presently, many public and civil society actors are engaged in extension activities. They include public extension offices, NGOs, research institutes, academic institutions, mass organizations (such as Women’s Union, Farmers’ Associations, Youth Union, Old Peoples’ Union, War Veterans Association), and private companies that sell agricultural inputs.

Main problems faced by extension services include: the skills and knowledge of the front-one extension workers (i.e. there is about one extension worker covering about 280 farm households); absence of comprehensive extension support to replace the present production-focused approach; little emphasis on processing and marketing; top-down program planning; a lack of location-specific extension approach in spite of so many micro-climates and ethnic groups of farmers; inadequate encouragement of non-public actors, especially the private sector, by the government to enhance extension service delivery (even though the Vietnamese agriculture has steadily been adopting an export culture); very low operational funds (about $2 per farm household); little in-service training of staff; and a lack of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of extension programs. Three main extension methods used by government extension services are individual contacts with farmers through visits, letters and telephone; group contacts with farmers through demonstrations, study tours, training and meetings; and the use of mass media such as conventional newspapers, radio and television programs, electronic newspapers, advertisements, leaflets, etc.

Changing policies (doi moi) of the single-party government of Vietnam in favor of market liberalization and transparency coupled with an impressive economic growth has been greatly appreciated by the donor community. CIDA is in a leading role focusing on increasing agricultural productivity, especially at the provincial level. It provides technical assistance and other services to farmers and government agencies in order to improve production and harvesting techniques, food safety, and quality. There is an SMNR-CV team of 25 GTZ and Vietnamese staff for “Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Central Vietnam” program. Other multi-lateral and bi-lateral donors include AusAID, Belgium, DANIDA, DFID, FINAID, GTZ, IrishAID, NORAD, NUFFIC, NZAID, SDC, Sida, World Bank, UNDP, FAO, IFAD, ADB and possibly some others. Recent policies, programs and activities of various donors for Vietnam may be seen in Annex Five of the following publication:


title=Extension Providers

Major institutions providing extension/advisory services

Public Institutions

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)

National Agricultural Extension Center (NAEC)

The NAEC is located in Hanoi within the MARD and also maintains an office in Ho Chi Minh City. The Center is a focal point for countrywide extension covering agriculture, livestock, forestry, fishery and rural industry. It synthesizes extension demands received from extension agencies and farmers; provides guidelines on preparing extension messages, extension methods, and the M&E of extension activities; prepares annual report for the Ministry; directly handles central level extension communication and cooperates with relevant organizations in training matters; organizes and participates in contests, festivals, workshops, exhibitions and fairs related to extension in all seven ecological zones; and cooperates with other scientific technical departments to identify improved technologies for farmers. Key activities of NAEC are: building up demonstration models; information dissemination and propaganda/advocacy; training and education; consultancies and provision of services; and international cooperation. 

NAEC has a Board of Directors, and individual Extension Divisions for rural industry, forestry, fishery, livestock, crops, training, information & propaganda, finance and general planning. According to a recent news item NAEC will earmark nearly $25.7 million for several extension activities to be completed by 2015. They include, among others, 29 cultivation projects and 20 animal husbandry projects costing $5.95 million. It will supposedly invest nearly $3.7 million to transfer advanced forestry technologies to farmers, and more than $4.85 million to provide fishermen knowledge and technologies to develop aquaculture.

Provincial Agricultural Extension Centers (PAEC)

Provincial Agricultural Extension Centers, one in each of the 64 provinces of Vietnam, perform the following functions:

  • Propose extension projects that suit the provincial conditions; 
  • Provide extension guidelines at district level and cooperate with district offices to carry out extension activities; 
  • Directly implement extension communication and training activities for district extension staff and key farmers in the provinces 

District Extension Stations

District Extension Stations in 585 districts (out of total 648 districts), which are under the control of the provincial agricultural extension offices or the District People Committees, have the following functions to perform:

  • Directly carry out extension activities; 
  • Offer training courses for commune/village extension staff; 
  • Organize training programs for farmers

Commune/Village Extension Offices

The commune/village level extension offices, located in about 97 percent of the communes, perform the following tasks:

  • Mobilize farmers to participate in extension activities; 
  • Convey farmers’ needs to higher level; 
  • Directly implement extension activities at village level 

Vietnamese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS)

The VAAS, formed in 1952, was re-organized in 2005 on the basis of merger of institutes under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Its headquarters are in Hanoi. Presently, the Academy has 17 institutes and five functional departments with 2,654 professional staff, and their satellite centers and research stations spread throughout the country. One of the 17 institutes is the Center for Technology Development and Agricultural Extension (CETDAE). There are basic units of research, specialized institutions and regional institutions located in different agro-ecological zones of the country, and one of their many responsibilities is technology transfer.

Table 1: Human Resources in Extension in Vietnam as of March 2012

Location of staff

Total No of staff


National Agricultural Extension Center, Hanoi

Representation office in Ho Chi Minh City




Ph.D.(6); Masters (15);Bachelors (54); covering total of nine divisions

Provincial Agricultural Extension Centers


On average 30 staff per provincial center

District Extension Stations


On average 6 staff per district station

Commune level extension offices


On average 1.2 staff per commune

Village level


Mainly part-time, non-professional workers; no full-time govt. extension staff presence at village level

Total extension personnel in the country


Status as of December 31, 2011; total number includes 32.3 percent women and 1.2 percent ethnic groups.

Source:  Agricultural Extension in Vietnam: Its Roles, Problems and Opportunities. Paper presented by Nguyen Van Bo, President, Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, at the Roundtable Consultation on Agricultural Extension, Beijing March 15 to 17, 2012.

Non-Public Institutions

Private sector

There are no established private companies that provide extension services to farmers on regular basis. A semblance of private services, however, appears in the form of payment for consultancies, technology introduction, product consumption, service contracts with agricultural entrepreneurs, research institutes, universities, etc. Also, many farmers especially in southern Vietnam pay for commercial services. Most private agricultural companies sell farm inputs to farmers, or run animal breeding farms or are engaged in exporting and importing agriculture-related materials such as plantation or crops seed, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and farm machinery and equipment.

A few examples of private companies are:

  • Agricultural Materials and Seed Supply Company, My Tho City, Tiengiang Province (local name: Cong Ty Giong Va Vat Tu Nong Nghiep Tien Giang); active in production and trading in rice seed and agricultural materials 
  • 30-4 Poultry Hatchery, Ho Chi Minh City (local name: XI Nghiep Giong Gia Cam 30-4); active in hatching and rearing poultry 
  • Agricultural Technical Services, Ninh Thuan Province (local name: Cong Ty Dich Vu Ky Thuat Nong Nghiep Ninh Thuan); active in trading in chemical fertilizer and pesticides 
  • Aquaculture Company, Hai Phong City (local name: Cong Ty Nuoi Trong Thuy San Hai Phong); active in raising and supplying aquatic products 
  • Bac Thai Province Livestock Breeding Company, Bac Thai Province (local name: Cong Ty Chan Nuoi Bac Thai); active in raising animals, breeding and processing animal feed 

Non-governmental organizations

There are many national and international NGOs in Vietnam engaged in a variety of agricultural and rural community development activities. A group of eleven NGOs spent almost 2.3 million USD on nine projects within the country, in the fields of agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and irrigation during the first six months of 2011. A few examples of NGOs in Vietnam are:

  • Agricultural Development Denmark Asia (ADDA): ADDA, a Danish NGO, uses Farmer Field School (FFS) methods and has implemented projects related to legal aid to the rural population, community development among ethnic minorities, development of framework for production and marketing of organic agriculture, and planting more trees. 
  • Agronomes et Veterinaires sans frontiers: A French NGO that concentrates on skill development in agriculture, livestock and animal health. It claims to have spent about $ 500,000 in Vietnam promoting sustainable rural development. 
  • Global Village Foundation (GVF): An international NGO providing education and health care for children and villagers; recently involved more in rebuilding and reconstruction activities and contributing to the peaceful dialogue between Vietnam and the United States. 
  • Borda: A German NGO implementing a plan of technology transfer in several northern alpine provinces. 
  • AECID: A Spanish NGO funding a plan on environmental government in aquaculture regions. 

Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies

There are a large number of farmers-based organizations in Vietnam. They take different forms such as unions, district associations, provincial associations, informal pre-cooperatives, formal cooperatives and secondary agricultural cooperatives. As the farmers witnessed the gradual replacement of collective farms by private farms over the last many years, their organizations, particularly agricultural cooperatives, have been going through transformation. For example, in 2005, there were total of 8,595 agricultural cooperatives out of which 6,115 had already been transformed, 284 are under transformation and 2,196 were newly established. However, the success of these cooperatives varies as they face competition with private companies especially in the matter of marketing. Extension quality management has been one of the activities of all cooperatives.

A few examples of farmers’ organizations are: 

  • Vietnam Farmers Union (VNFU): A very active national level organization also enjoying membership of the powerful Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), and is linked with many other international organizations; implemented a project on building a farmer-to-farmer extension network in Vietnam, funded by the Dutch NGO Agriterra from 2003 to 2005. 
  • Provincial Farmers Association, Pleiku City, Gia Lai Province 
  • Dak DOA District Farmers Association, Gia Lai Province 
  • Vietnam Cashew Association (VINACAS): Has recently asked commercial banks for a short-term loan of about $ 623,000 to purchase all the raw cashew stock from farmers

Two examples of farmers’ training centers are:

  • The Thai Nguyen Farmers’ Training Center: Located in northern Vietnam based on partnership between Thai Nguyen University and the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation. 
  • Farmers Training Center: Located in Bao Loc district, Lam Dong Province; opened in March 2012 by IFC and ACOM; during the first three years, about 4,000 farmers will be helped to qualify for sustainability certifications for their coffee beans, which can be sold at higher prices to global buyers. 

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Viet Nam. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.




Training options for extension professionals

Vietnam has dozens of colleges, universities and institutes where agricultural academic and training programs are offered. A few examples of major academic institutions that offer pre-service education in agriculture and relevant social sciences are given below. 

  • Ho Chi Minh City University of Agriculture and Forestry (also called Nong Lam University): A comprehensive university located in Ho Chi Minh City; offers an academic program in 46 majors of agricultural sciences.
  • Bac Giang University of Agriculture and Forestry
  • Nong Lam University: (Formerly called University of Agriculture and Forestry of Ho Chi Minh City); located in Ho Chi Minh City; besides offering academic programs, plays an important role in education, extension, and dissemination of scientific technologies.
  • College of Agriculture and Forestry of Hue University: Located in Hue; offers degree programs in a number of agricultural disciplines including extension; has an in-service training institute.
  • Vietnam National University: The largest, comprehensive and most prestigious university in the country is not agricultural university per se, but offers relevant programs in natural sciences; it has two campuses, one in Hanoi and the other in Ho Chi Minh City.

Regarding in-service training of the extension staff, the National Agricultural Extension Center has a Training Division, which is responsible for training matters. All major provincial extension centers organize training events. Extension staff may also receive specialized training under major projects or those arranged by NGOs for special purposes.

Several academic institutions of agriculture, such as College of Agriculture and Forestry of Hue University, have in-service training facilities for the extension staff. The Institute of Agricultural Science of South Vietnam, located in Ho Chi Minh City, offers not only training programs for technical staff in agriculture but it also has an Agricultural Training and Technology Center.



Info-mediaries and information and communication technology (ict) for agriculture and extension

Vietnam has taken several initiatives in ICT application to rural and agricultural development. The Vietnam Land Administration Project (VLAP) started in 2008 aims at developing a modern land information system which could deliver online government services to the public. The Bac Ninh land information system is already providing online services and electronic service centers in rural districts located around Hanoi. Another initiative is the establishment of an integrated land and house management information system at the Center for Land and Housing Information and Registration in Nam Dinh City---a one-stop shop--which cuts across bureaucratic layers and red tape for common people. Yet another example is the Management Information System for the Forestry Sector (FORMIS), which includes technological solutions for information integration, remote sensing, and mobile technologies. The government has also approved a Strategy for Information Technology Application and Development for Natural Resources and Environment to Year 2015.

According to the World Bank in 2010, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Vietnam was 17,530. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 2,785.

Mass media content and the creation of websites in Vietnam are controlled by the Ministry of Information and Culture. National Agricultural Extension Center also has an Information and Propaganda Division. Agrovietiv is the official website of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnamese language. It contains commodity prices and other relevant information on marketing and development of agriculture. It also has information on research system organization, agricultural scientists, research projects and their results, technical publications and advanced technologies.

Mass media is well developed in Vietnam. The government Vietnam Television (VTV) operates five channels, one of which focuses on educational content mainly designed for farmers and the rural population. The VTV covers 83 percent of the country with terrestrial broadcasting, and 100 percent by satellite. There are also local television stations in all major cities. 

The Voice of Vietnam Radio (VOV) broadcasts in 11 languages. There are radio stations in all districts and communes. Communes also broadcast information to their members through fixed and mobile loudspeakers, although this is being gradually replaced by local radio and television broadcasts.



Key Statistics and Indicators




Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)











Fertilizer consumption (Kg per hectare of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)









GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)











Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)





Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population**

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*





















Sources: The World Bank; *FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, **IndexMundi



Resources and references

Be, T.T. (2000). Agricultural extension in Vietnam: In need of better institutional arrangements. University of Sydney.

Bo, N.V. (2012). Agricultural extension in Vietnam: Its roles, problems and opportunities. Paper presented at Roundtable Consultation on Agricultural Extension, Beijing; March 15 to 17, 2012 

De, N.N., T. Uchiyama, K. Ohara (2005). Vietnam agricultural extension: Its roles, problems and opportunities. Bull. Fac. Bioresources, Mie Univ. No. 32:79-94; March 31, 2005 

Hoa, T.T.N., D.T. Dung, N.H. Son (2008). Vietnam agriculture extension and market information system. IAALD AFITA WCCA2008. World Conference on Agricultural Information and IT 

Hung, L.M. (2003). Economic characteristics of the population of Vietnam (major findings from an analysis of 1999 Census). Paper presented at the 2003 Population Census Conference, Kyoto, Japan; November 19-21, 2003 

MacAulay, T.G. and S.P. Marsh. (2003). Farm size and land use changes in Vietnam following land reforms. Paper presented at the 47th Annual Conference of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, The Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle; 13-15th February 2003 

McCarty, A. (2011). Partner-Led Cooperation: Review and Vietnam Case Study. Mekong Economics Ltd.

Pehu, E., S. Janakiram, D. Winder, C.O’Farrell and J. Young (2003). Report on the joint mission of the World Bank, DFID, FAO and ODI to Vietnam 16th-25th October 2003) under the Collaborative Program for Knowledge Systems in Support of Rural Livelihoods. Washington: The World Bank 

Ringer, J. (2005). The Thai Nguyen Farmers’ Training Center: Catalyst for grassroots transformation. Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference of AIAEE held at San Antonio, TX 

Van, N.V. (no date; probably 2011). Agricultural extension system of Vietnam.

Van Viet, N. (no date; probably 2010). National agricultural research system of Vietnam. Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Wolz, A. and P.B. Duong (December 2008). The transformation of agricultural producer cooperatives – The case of Vietnam.

World Bank (November 2011). ICT in Agriculture Sourcebook: Connecting Smallholders to Knowledge, Networks, and Institutions. Washington: The World Bank

Related Resources

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