Blog Capturing fine diet data in Vietnam to guide action on food systems transformation

The Alliance in Vietnam has worked on baseline food systems profiles to help address food and nutrition security issues from a consumption rather than a supply standpoint.

In Vietnam, urbanization is considered the main demographic driver of food system transformation. Rabid movement to cities is expected to put additional stress on food systems through increased demand for greater food diversity. Urban demand is expected to increasingly dictate what foods are grown by rural producers, and how these foods are processed, distributed and marketed.

This year, the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT are proud to launch three food systems profiles for Vietnam, capturing diets and nutrition status, consumer behavior, and food flows along the rural-urban transect in three locations across the country.

Urban food systems in Vietnam before the Covid-19 pandemic. Credit: Georgina Smith

The profiles for Dong Anh, Cau Giay, and Moc Chau in Vietnam, as well as a comparison profile that covers rural-urban transect in Vietnam, are part of a wider effort during the past three years together with the National Institute of Nutrition in Vietnam, to create a Partial Food Systems Baseline Assessment in the three Vietnam Benchmark sites.

The goal of the profiles is to guide researchers and policy makers, providing an overview of existing challenges along the food system to support policy recommendations for local socio-economic development planning. The profiles characterize the food system in these three locations in Vietnam and highlight key challenges, offering a baseline for the measurement and monitoring of future changes in these areas. They include:

  • Moc Chau: a rural district that is home to diverse ethnic groups, high levels of stunting, and agricultural production both intended for home consumption and to enhance livelihoods.
  • Dong Anh is a peri-urban site where rapid urbanization is taking place, becoming home to migrants and a commuting labor force.
  • Cau Giay is a typical urban district with a wide range of retail options as food sources.

The sites were chosen to represent different scales and levels of urbanization along a rural, peri-urban, and urban transect. The in-depth food systems research was conducted to complement a national level inquiry by ‘zooming-in’ through an in-depth survey on contrasting realities and possible rural-urban linkages at the sub-national level.

These first efforts show how food system frameworks can be applied at the local level, and how profiles as a knowledge product can better support decisions and actions towards food systems transformation.

The A4NH team at the Alliance is optimistic that these preliminary profiles will provide more opportunities for research and other assessments to help improve diets and nutrition that can be applied globally.