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Photographer's Note

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(Continued)


LESSONS FROM THE EXPERIENCE:


1. The experience of Viet Nam shows that relatively equal distribution of land is a key ingredient if market reform is to reduce poverty. Whereas the proportion of landless people is around 20% of the rural population in other Asian countries, in Viet Nam it is barely 2%.
2. The potential offered by market reform cannot be translated into growth unless other infrastructure is in place. Viet Nam had invested in a relatively good irrigation and extension system before market liberalization. Benefits from such services were realized because of a relatively well educated workforce; the strong response of the private sector to market incentives followed.
3. An export-oriented strategy can be consistent with food security and with smallholder production. Policymakers’ fear that liberalizing rice exports in Viet Nam would create widespread food insecurity and exacerbate poverty is understandable, but this analysis demonstrates that it is largely unfounded.
4. Regional and distributional dimensions need to be taken into consideration when undertaking policy reform. A better understanding of the trade-offs may be useful in designing policies that at least partially offset the distributional bias of policy reform.

The results of the analysis in this report were presented to Vietnamese policymakers in late 1996, leading them to enact a series of annual increases in the rice export quota and to lift restrictions on internal rice trade. In the wake of these reforms, rice prices have been stable or declined and the north-south price margin has narrowed, showing that sound policy research can lead to beneficial policy actions.
*Source:www.ifpri.org/pubs/abstract/114/ab114.pdf.









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Photo: Woman farmer in conical hat harvesting rice in Ben Tre Province within the Mekong Delta — best known for rice-growing which is often referred to as Vietnam's rice basket. It produces enough rice to feed the whole country with superfluous amounts for exportation.
Vietnamese are often very proud of the richness and vastness of this land. When referring to the rice fields in this area, they often say, "cò bay thẳng cánh", meaning the land is so large that the cranes can stretch their wings as they fly.


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