Does Agricultural Commercialization Affect Food Security: The Case of Crop-Producing Households in the Regions of Post-Reform Vietnam?

Linderhof, Vincent; Janssen, Valerie; Achterbosch, T.J.


Agricultural commercialization remains a widely pursued approach in development projects to improve food security in low-income countries, although there is no clear scientific evidence for it. This study examines the impact of agricultural commercialization on the food security status of crop-producing households in the regions of Vietnam in the 1990s. We used the food system framework including output and input markets. We explore three indicators of commercialization: Cash crop production share (CCPS), crop output market participation share (COMPS), and crop input market participation share (CIMPS) based on fertilizer use. For food security, we looked at caloric intake and dietary diversity (Food Variety Score). We use a balanced panel data sample from the Vietnam Living Standards Survey (VLSS) of 1992/93 and 1997/98. We apply four specifications for all combinations of commercialization indicators and food security indicators for seven regions: OLS 1992/93, OLS 1997/98, pooled sample, and difference estimator. The results show that the effect of commercialization on food security is widely heterogeneous. It depends upon the commercialization indicator and the region in Vietnam. In general, there is no clear evidence for the direction of commercialization on either caloric intake or dietary diversity; however, it is clear that the impacts are generally more positive for southern regions than for northern regions of Vietnam.