2019 Volume 27 Issue 4 Pages 81-97
Twenty years of long-term maize monoculture that began in the 1990s have resulted in the heavily maize-dependent economy of the northwestern mountainous region of Vietnam, especially in Yen Chau, the core production area. Before 2014, maize accounted for over 70% of the agricultural area. The continuous decrease in maize production value has strongly affected the Tai Dam community in Yen Chau and led to the replacement of various livelihood activities. This contributed to a major shrinkage of the maize area by 28.2% by the end of 2017. This study aims to investigate the determinants of the rapid development of different livelihood trends in Lac Ken, Suoi Bun, and Luong Me villages. A detailed social and statistical investigation was conducted of 198 households in 2016 and 220 households in 2017. The findings of this study indicate that small differences in cultivated land areas and infrastructure facilities have fostered the formation of and changes in livelihood structures. The areal withdrawal of maize occurred concurrently with the increasing trend of fruit tree and sugarcane cultivation. Never-before-seen migrant work unexpectedly became a promising livelihood activity for local farmers. Differences in internal and external forces are believed to be the driving factors behind the new forms of livelihood activities.