Kết nối nghiên cứu với thực tiễn
cho một nền NÔNG NGHIỆP tăng trưởng toàn diện
Some thoughts on the role of research community to support the forestry sector of Vietnam
06 | 10 | 2007
Hoang Minh Ha [1], Pham Quang Dieu [2], Tran Binh Da [3], Dong Khanh Hung [4], Truong Quynh Bao [5], Pham Van Vien [2], Pham Thu Thuy [1] and Roi Estévez Pérez [1]

1. Overview of Program 4 on Research, Extension, Training and Education (RETE) in the New National Forestry Strategy

The RETE program is designed with three main objectives of developing high-quality human resources for the forestry sector. The specific task for the research includes:

· Focus research on some key areas, such as bio-technology, refining technologies for

· NTFPs, high-yielding plantations, agroforestry, and rehabilitation of poor degraded natural forests.

· Improve technologies and equipment for the forest product processing industry, in order to enhance its competitive capacity and to meet the requirements of international economic integration.

· Study, on a scientific and practical basis, to develop break-through policies within the forestry sector (high-profit production, socialization, NTFP development; valuation of environmental services; attracting funds of domestic and foreign private sector, etc.)

To carry out this program, numerous solutions have been proposed including:

(i) broaden the participation of stakeholders to meet the need of Production and Market with participation of Forest owners

(ii) Review of the procedures

(iii) Measures to increased income for forest owners

(iv) Establish national indicators for SFM

(v) Capacity building for Universities Institutes

(vi) Encourage training and consultative centres establishment in central provinces, districts, communes

(vii) Empower ownership responsibility of research institute

(viii) The forest protection will work with grass root level with extensions + Forest Protection

There are two main concerns that have been raised by the group of researchers.

Firstly, RETE funding needs estimated to occupy only 1, 3 % total needs for NFS (About 100 billions VND, which is about 650 000 USD, for one year). The budget estimation may indicate the low priority to the program 4, in comparison with the other four programs within NFS.

Although it might be calculated on the basis of up-to-date funding allocation, this amount seems to be too small for demand and research need, and may not be realistic in the future. To compare this budget estimation with funding allocated for the same purpose in other sectors may be a good way to judge if the amount reasonable or not.

Secondly, there have been many discussions on the biotech issues. Some claim that this technique might be difficultly applied in the current situation of Vietnam. Others see this opportunity to develop a market segment for traders or other stakeholders who are interested in developing an overseas market in connection with the WTO. How to make appropriate investment and updated technologies, however, are still being questioned.

2. The current situation and the gap of the research in the forestry sector

In general, research outcomes do not meet the end user’s expectation because they are too theoretical to be applied. Most of research only focus on techniques development without considering the comprehensive factors that can lead to the success of products such as dissemination and customer orientation. It has been clearly show that information exchange and dissemination are too weak within research in the forest sector. Many researches have good results but the end users or the interested stakeholders are not aware of it.

There are four main groups that so far ‘forestry’ research have not been able to reach to:

1. Market

The current researches are not driven by market base. The customers or the end users of the final products are mainly either the state or the ministries. However, the works are sometimes not ordered based on the real demand of the sector. Hence, the results are not widely applied. Researchers themselves are generally passive without considering what the hot issues in the market are. The products, therefore, are not being attractive in the market.

2. Policy makers

On one hand, researchers claim that they do not have support from the policy makers. On the other hand, their research outputs have not been delivered to the policy makers in the form that decision makers are able to read. In addition, timing to carry out the research has often lost the up-to-date requirements of the issues. Some researches have been done when the policies have been released.

3. Forest Owners

There is no linkage between the research and the forest owners and that why the market mechanism and supply and demand for the research products cannot be processed.

4. Traders

Traders and the researchers have not worked together in sharing information, hence research topics might be not the traders’ interest. Market and traders needs to be understood inside the Global market reality.

As agreed with the priority set by NFS, human resource is the crusal solution for the forestry development. We agree that here is a need to build capacity for ‘forestry’ researchers in Vietnam. The question of what skills and expertise that needs to be further empowered is discussed. Helvetas has just finished their research on the training need of the forestry sector and their recommendations should be taken into consideration. However, it is clear that the analysis tool, research approaches and communication skills should be addressed and paid attention in the forestry education and research.

3. Action research and the role of research community

‘Action research is a flexible spiral process which allows action (change, improvement) and research (understanding, knowledge) to be achieved at the same time. The understanding allows more informed change and at the same time is informed by that change. People affected by the change are usually involved in the action research. This allows the understanding to be widely shared and the change to be pursued with commitment’ (Dick, 2002). In a simple way, one may say ‘action research = action and research’. A major difference between action research and the normal research is that the action research is a cycle of reflection, adjustment and making changes. In other words, it aims to find out unexpected things in the research process so that lessons learnt can be drawn and be adjusted in further planning. So action is followed by critical reflection: What worked? What didn't? What have we learned? How might we do it differently next time. The understanding achieved, the conclusions drawn, the plans developed ... These are tested in action.

Different successful models of how action research might work can be found in Vietnam. What we do research for should be the first asked question to make our research to be action.

In answering this question, action research methodology wins coherence.

Since research is basically ‘seach for knowledge’, it should be oriented to the real people who do the action. Therefore the next question is Who make the change? The most relevant stakeholders are Traders, Forest owners, Policy makers and traders. Donors, both national and international, are linked both to policy makers and researchers. Further question is Who is influenced by the change? The feed-back of our action can answer this question. Therefore, we belive that identification of knowledge from relevant stakeholders are crusal in any action research. Participatory approach is a good way to involve relevant stakeholders in this process. Participatory at farmers’ level is not enough in this context, but it should be taken from a wider view from a much broader stakeholders. Then, inside this frame, there are important concepts to be self questioned, like what research here is, and what makes us different from other institutions. E.g., who does something in Forestry Policy research?

After identifying what should be the research about, the next question is how to achieve it. The case of IPSARD’ way of working was discussed to illustrate on how an action research approach can function in reality. Research done at IPSARD is considered as policy-driven research, and

advisory institute. The important stakeholder of IPSARD is the policy makers. Anwering the questions on how to influence the policy makers and how to function as an advisory institue, the following activities were reported:

- Coordinating linkages between experts to work and the ministry, between different departments within MARD.

- Advisory role. A policy brief could be interesting tool for this purpose.

- Select the best information and share providing information

- Link with policy makers within MARD and other sectors.

- Networking with development agencies

- Connect donor with researcher

- Connection between different departments within MARD

When mentioned about information, the issues discussed was how to handle it. Analysis skill is very important. However, this skill still seem to be weak. Role of international institute like CIFOR and ICRAF to support to IPSARD in enhancing capacity in analysis method was discussed as an example on how a research partnership can be formed.

For gaining knowledge and reflection, IPSARD is using ‘modelling’ approach (social and economic) to predict impacts of the changes. Modelling is an excellent tool for system thinking, consolidation and identifying the gaps. However, oH social-economic analysis capacity leads us to the question what conclusion could be done and for whom?

Mass media, the most powerful tool in making changes and influent the changes, is used commonly by IPSARD.

We agreed that in order to work with reality, it is very important that research community have a common language, common approach and one good way is testing “model”. We propose action research as our common platform to work together.


Dick, B. (2002) Action research: action and research [On line]. Available at



[1] World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Vietnam


[3] Vietnam Forestry University

[4] Forest Sector Support Partnership Coordination Office

[5] Centre for Agriculture Policy

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