The emergence of lotus farming as an innovation for adapting to climate change in the upper vietnamese mekong delta

Vo, Hoang Thi Minh; Halsema, Gerardo Van; Hellegers, Petra; Wyatt, Andrew; Nguyen, Quan Hong


Climate change poses an acute threat to the Vietnamese Mekong Delta (VMD). To respond to this threat, the structure of the delta’s agriculture-based economy must transform, becoming more adaptive to changing conditions. One adaptive livelihood option is the use of flood-based farming systems in the upper VMD. The present study examines local perceptions of such a system in Dong Thap Province, a lowland, flood-affected area of the upper VMD. Specifically, we explored lotus farming as a potential flood-based adaptive livelihood model for the region. The study advances the current literature by using historical research, embedded in narrative analysis applying the social construction of technology (SCOT) lens. We collected data through in-depth interviews and field surveys to qualitatively analyze the emergence and status of lotus cultivation in the study area, zooming in on how local society evolved with expansion of this farming model. The findings suggest that as an innovative idea, lotus farming initially emerged due to unfavorable natural conditions, and then was developed as an attractive nature-based livelihood, and thus received increased attention. It has been accepted and modified over time according to the new interests of further stepped-in stakeholders. Our findings echo the social construction of technology perspective as we found lotus farming to be a technological artifact that did not develop on its own, by was driven by different interpretations and re-negotiation process. This made more room for stakeholders to shape and reshape it in a way that fits their interests.