VAC: traditional integrated systems with high value
in Vietnam modern agriculture
Pham Thi Sen1, Nguyen Duy Phuong2,
Hoang Xuan Thao1, Vu Van Tung3,
(1): Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (NOMAFSI)
(2): Soil and Fertilizer Research Institute (SFRI)
(3): Plant Genetic Resources Center (PRC)
VAC is the abbreviation of the Vietnamese phrase Vườn-Ao-Chuồng (garden-pond-animal pens/cages, or, horticulture-aquaculture-animal husbandry). VAC stands for integrated production systems comprising three components: horticulture (gardening), aquaculture and animal husbandry.
Horticulture: Various plants (timber, bamboos, rattans, creepers, fruits, vegetables, legumes, spices and medicinal plants) are cultivated in multilayer in such a way that all can absorb enough solar energy to express good growth and generate high productivity.
Aquaculture: One or few ponds are created either in the center or close to one edge of the garden for multiuse: (i) aquaculture, (ii) water reservoir, and (iii) cultivation of crops.
Animal husbandry: Buffalos, cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits etc. are often reared. Honey bears can also be raised. Pen/cages are built in places suitable for energy and nutrient recycling within the VAC system.
VAC systems, therefore, effectively use all the available land, air, water and solar energy resources, and also effectively recycle by-products and waste. The VAC layouts, and also the types of plants and animals are highly diverse between households and communities.
Traditionally, VAC has been an integral component and feature of household production and rural self-sufficient economy, and the country culture and landscape. Nowadays, a wide range of stakeholders have been investing and playing a role in VAC intensification and development. While the VAC owners – households, play the most important and decisive role, their neighbours though sharing of information and experiences can influence the owners’ decision. Local authorities at different levels also play a valuable role on VAC; policies or plans implemented by them can result in significant changes in the local production systems, including VAC. Markets, as usual, can be driver or barrier for many animal and plants products. Researchers and extension officers are spending increasing investment for building capacity and supporting households to develop sustainable intensive VAC systems. Last, but not least, local mass organizations (women/ youth/farmers/gardeners unions…) also have impacts on VAC; they play the liaison role between authorities, research institutions, extension network and households.