Viet Nam

From conventional to organic peanut farming Preliminary on-farm field experiments in My Loi Climate-Smart Village, Ha Tinh province, Vietnam

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Key messages

  • Using inorganic chemicals in conventional peanut cultivation may result in declining soil quality and increased sensitivity to drought.

  • After one season, there were minor differences in peanut quality or yield among the conventional, organic (no inorganic chemicals) and partly organic (restricted inorganic chemicals) practices.
    However, organic peanut cultivation returned the highest profit.

  • Improved management strategies and weed control in organic peanut farming can potentially increase peanut yields.

  • Market links and supporting government policies are essential to encourage the adoption of organic practices.

BACKGROUND

Over the past decades, inorganic chemical fertilizers have increasingly applied in many countries for improving crop yields (Robertson et al. 2014, FAO et al. 2013). However, over use or misuse of chemical fertilizers has caused biodiversity loss, reduction of soil organic matter and increased greenhouse gas emissions (FAO et al. 2013), resulting in enhanced crop’s sensitivity to climate variability, pests and diseases. Topsoil degradation is projected to increase with climate change, aggravating the demand for chemical inputs to maintain crop production and causing further harm to the environment (FAO 2017).

Recent trends have shown a shift away from conventional production, with a 20% increase in organic farmland between 2016 and 2017 (Willer & Lernoud 2019). In Vietnam, the Prime Minister issued Decree 109/2018/NĐ-CP1 on regulations and support for organic production.

Furthermore in 2020, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 885 / QD-TTg2 to approve projects on organic development in agriculture for the period 2020-2030. According to this Decision, the area agricultural land for organic production is planned to reach 1.5-2% and 2.5-3% of the total agricultural land area by 2025 and 2030, respectively.
Organic farming is a way of conserving soil organic matter and biodiversity, as well as providing ecosystem services (Tsiafouli et al. 2014, Pimentel et al., 2005b, Mäder et al. 2002). Some previous studies showed that organic cultivation significantly increase crop yield (Malligawad 2010; Pimentel et al., 2005b, Lotter et al., 2003). However, some others showed that the average reduction of leguminous crop yield under organic practice ranged from 5% to 12% (Forster et al., 2013, Seufert 2012, De Ponti 2012, Malligawad 2010) and highly variable among crop types, management practices, climate conditions, regions and timescales (table 1). This calls into question whether organic agriculture can meet increasing global food demands.

In My Loi Climate-smart Village, Ha Tinh province, Viet Nam, conventional peanut production uses chemical inputs to increase crop yield. However, farmers have also experienced negative impacts on the environment of the conventional practice and shown their interest in testing organic farming.

However, farmers expressed concerns regarding: (1) the potential decrease in crop yield; and (2) the difference in market price between conventionally and organically grown peanuts.

This report presents the findings from an experiment in My Loi village in dry season 2019, comparing yields, quality and economic benefits of peanuts grown organically versus conventionally. We make some recommendations for the expansion of organic or partly organic peanut production in the province, with the aim to encourage adoption among local partners in on-farm experiments and farmer-field school activities.