Vietnam approves land use plan for 2016-2020: less land for rice

By Lam Le   April 8, 2016 | 10:27 pm PT
Around 400 thousand ha of rice cultivation land will be set aside for other uses amid frequent drought and salinity.

The National Assembly has approved the resolution on revising the land use master plan until 2020 and the national land use plan for 2016-2020 at meeting this morning.

The resolution was backed by 428 of the 465 deputies who cast their votes on April 9.

The revision is to meet land demand based on the country’s new socio-economic, defense and security targets.

Land type

Area by 2020

(thousand ha)

Change from previous plan (thousand ha)

Agricultural land  27,038.09  + 306.33
Non-agricultural land  4,780.24  - 100.08
Hi-tech zone  3.63  
Economic zone  1,582.96  
Urban  1,941.74  

It is planned that 400 thousand ha of rice cultivation land will be transformed to land for annual crops like corn, nut, soybean, vegetables and flowers. This land, when necessary, may be used again for rice cultivation in the future, according to the National Assembly Standing Committee. 

However, a number of deputies wanted to retain rice cultivation land to ensure national food security and assess climate change impacts. Others worry that switching to other annual crops will make it hard to return to rice cultivation later on.

According to the National Assembly Standing Committee drought and salinization are increasingly common in the Central Coast and the Mekong Delta. Some land areas are no longer suitable for rice cultivation. Vietnam is thus forced to switch to other crops or aquaculture.

Vietnam will retain existing 4,400 thousand ha of protective forest land and will restore and plant around 240 thousand ha in critical watersheds, coast and border areas.

Most of the 1.1 million ha of land transformed into production forest land is the land already put aside for such purpose in the northern mountains, North Central, South Central Coast and the Central Highlands to promote forestry and sustainable development.

Additionally, following National Assembly’s recommendations, the resolution prohibits transforming head-water protection, sand-shield protection and anti-sea tide forest lands into production forest land.  

According to Vietnam's climate change scenario, by 2020, sea level is expected to rise by 12cm, affecting 6 thousand ha of rice cultivation land, including 4 ha in the Mekong Delta. Rice cultivation is also heavily affected by hydroelectric dams upstream. 

Meanwhile, industrialization requires increased amount of agricultural land in the deltas to be used for other purposes like industry, urban development, infrastructure and economic zones, creating a potential conflict between food security, environmental protection and socio-economic development. 

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