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Effects of the Land Allocation Process and Market-Oriented Economy on Common Grazing Land of Ethnic Minorities in Northwest Vietnam

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Hager, Jorg
Conference: Survival of the Commons: Mounting Challenges and New Realities, the Eleventh Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Conf. Date: June 19-23, 2006
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1987
Sector: Grazing
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
land tenure and use
transitional economics
Abstract: "Grazing lands can be described as typical common-pool resources in Northwest Vietnam's mountainous areas. The traditional common property regimes governing land tenure have undergone several transformations since the victory of the communist Vietnamese over the French in 1954. The collectivization process initiated in the 1970s led to a supply bottleneck due to insufficient agricultural production inducing the de-collectivization process and eventually 'doi moi', an economically and politically opening policy. Today, land resources are utilized in a post 'doi moi' and gradually market oriented environment and land tenure systems have fundamentally been altered by the 1993 Land Law. The land reform launched a process of allocating individualized long-term use rights for agricultural land to all households. At the same time the state has tightened its grip on control over land use patterns in order to fulfill the default development plans and goals. "The objectives of this paper are to present the impact of political and economic changes and innovations on the existence and tenure of common grazing land in the agricultural systems of Black Thai and Hmong peoples in Northwest Vietnam. Furthermore, driving forces behind the fundamental changes in the use of common land are identified and the effects of a significant decrease of common land are valuated. Quantitative and qualitative research, including individual as well as group interviews and participant observation, was carried out between 2003-2005 in 3 Black Thai and 3 Hmong villages in mountainous Northwest Vietnam. "Results suggest that the land allocation process since 1993 and the gradual orientation towards market production with cash crops (e.g. maize and cotton) cause a significant reduction of common land used for grazing ruminants. The doubled population together with the expansion and intensification of agriculture put even more pressure on the common land. After an equal area of agricultural land were allocated to each household proportionate to the number of household members and the declaration of vast areas as protection forest common grazing land was diminished or even disappeared in the study area. Additionally, in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, common property systems are not formally recognized by state law and no legal base exists to protect the access and use rights on common land. Consequently, commonly used grazing land is governed by informal customary laws unofficially tolerated by local authorities. "The conclusion is that the importance of and interest in common grazing land is decreasing due to individualized land use rights and increasing market production. The role of common grazing land and ruminant raising in local farming systems is minor compared to the possible income generated by cash cropping. Finally, without recognition of common-property regimes by state law a sustainable use and management of common grazing land is not viable."</sup>

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