SAM - Regional > Introduction
Objectives and method
In a context of fragile ecosystems and the precarious living conditions of mountain populations the “Regional” component of the SAM Program aims at:
Our research is explicitly oriented towards regional development, with a strong emphasize on methodological development to make sure the results can be generalized to other situations.
In the context of Vietnam agriculture, our research approach is based on the following hypotheses:
Our research program faced methodological constraints specific to the history and geography of Vietnam.
Successive major breaks in the process of agrosystems evolution. Historical events that Vietnam recently experienced led to successive breaks in agricultural production modes (collectivization, decollectivization, land allocation to farmers, etc.) that put farmers and more generally rural communities in a situation of uncertainty, lacking the necessary background experience to make sound decisions. Rapid transformations of their socio-economic context (industrialization, integration to markets, population migrations, etc.) lead farmers to perpetual innovation without the necessary historical background nor the technical experience that would insure the durability of developed production systems.
The rapid pace of change. The very rapid pace of change in the region, especially since the privatization of the economy, land redistribution, and political reforms of the late 1980’s profoundly modified the relations between people and their environment and also the interactions between stakeholders concerning their environment. In this context of rapid changes, research results may be obsolete and/or useless before they can be released, if methodologies can not adapt continuously to this very dynamic environment. Keeping pace with the rapid agro-ecological and socio-economic changes is thus a major challenge of research programs in order to maintain their relevance to development issues.
An extreme diversity of natural and human environments. The extreme diversity, both ecological and social, is a major constraint to the generalization of local studies to higher integration levels. The main development trends are expressed in many different ways at farm or village level depending on local circumstances. This high diversity creates a very complex picture where there is no typical district, village or even household. This high heterogeneity raises major methodological problems for sampling procedures, data collection, and extrapolation of locally obtained results.
Three main principles guided our research approach:
Systems approach and interdisciplinarity. The SAM-Regional program analyses land use change dynamics at the interface between biophysical and socio-economic transformations. This requires integrating the different aspects of a complex reality, which makes a systems approach very relevant. The interest in regional level dynamics leads to the involvement of scientific disciplines beyond traditional agronomy such as ecology, soil science, climate science, economy, sociology, geography, etc. Systems approach is a common ground that facilitates the interactions within our interdisciplinary research team.
Multi-scale characterization of land use changes, using
Continuum research – development – policy, through an active contribution of the end-users of the research results (farmers, extension agents, local and regional decision-makers) in the research process.
Between 1998 and 2002, the SAM-Regional Program contributed to training through research as follows: