Study of land use dynamics and paddy land loss due to urbanisation and industrialization in Vietnam

This report is focused on the changes taking place to land use patterns in modern, industrialising Vietnam, and is specifically focusing on former agricultural land being developed into industrial land and the problems that go with it.

Vietnam has been rapidly industrialising since the late 1990s and in some areas even earlier. This change is seen as necessary by the government and is also strong supported by local people who in most cases, if indirectly, have benefited greatly from it. The former rice paddy land is drained and turned in to industrial parks or other urban areas and are often set up by foreign and private investors.

The displaced land owners are compensated for the loss of their land with offers of re training programs and cash payments. This compensation is intended to get the ex-land owners back on their feet and to find new sources of income. Some ex-land owners have bought other land and invested in the profitable animal husbandry market, raising animals such as pigs, using their waste to grow crops, using the crops to feed the animals and then selling some of the animals to generate even more income. Unfortunately not all displaced land owners are capable of moving to a new area or purchasing more land. Many of them are offered training to work in the factories that are built in the industrial areas. Although it is still fairly low standard of work it is on par if not better than the work they were doing on the rice paddies and is certainly a lot more secure.

Problems arise when the ex-land owners can neither purchase new land nor re-train to work somewhere else. Many people do not wish to re-train as they have spent their whole life farming and the factory work on offer is very different and would require learning a new trade. This mainly applies to older workers who have worked the land for long periods of time. Younger worker often get training in higher profile jobs such as computing; this again leaves many out of work as the jobs they are trained for are not as available as the more menial trades. Another problem that has arisen is that many ex-land owners on receiving a lump sum of compensation, instead of using it to reinvest or re-train, are using it to buy consumer items not necessarily useful in securing a new source of income.

To solve, or at least manage these problems, a good level of organisation is key. Many of the problems arise due to lack of information in the rural areas. Stronger links between new land owners, villages and programs aimed at placing local people in work would eliminate many of the complications that arise when an area’s economic balance changes drastically. Locals aiming at re-training can be advised of the job opportunities in the area, and the factory owners can offer improved information on requirements of work.

Improved information also can lead to the remaining agricultural land owners and people not able to retrain or find new sources of income to better support each other within the community. Craft villages are being set up that involve a whole community in production of the same product or agricultural process; this means that there is a safe source of employment for locals without having to relocate. This means that, with less land available for agriculture, more people can benefit from it and it can be used more productively. It also strengthens a village as a whole and leads to healthy dynamics and good social support for the people living in it.