Social and ecological challenges of market-oriented shrimp farming in Vietnam


Vietnam is one of the largest shrimp exporters in the world. Since 2010, Vietnam has earned about two billion dollars annually through shrimp exports. As a fertile area of greatest potential for agricultural production in Vietnam, the Mekong Delta has been a major contributor to the country’s achievements, especially in the agricultural sector. During recent decades, trade liberation along with various policies in support of aquaculture has accelerated the development of shrimp production in the Delta. Based on an ethnographic study of shrimp farming in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, I assert that along with great rewards arising from the expansion of shrimp farming areas, productivity, and export value, the shrimp industry has brought various environmental, economic and social challenges. Consequently, shrimp farming is a risky business and local inhabitants have relied on various strategies to cope with these challenges. Risk mitigation in shrimp production and labor migration are the two important strategies of local inhabitants for securing their livelihoods. Water pollution and poor quality post-larvae shrimp are direct consequences of market-oriented production.


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