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Adaptation and development trade-offs: fluvial sediment deposition and the sustainability of rice-cropping in An Giang Province, Mekong Delta

Adaptation and development trade-offs: fluvial sediment deposition and the sustainability of rice-cropping in An Giang Province, Mekong Delta
Adaptation and development trade-offs: fluvial sediment deposition and the sustainability of rice-cropping in An Giang Province, Mekong Delta
Deltas around the globe are facing a multitude of intensifying environmental change and development-linked pressures. One key concern is the reduction in the quantity of suspended sediment reaching and building floodplains. Sediment deposition provides multiple services to deltaic social-ecological systems, in particular, countering the subsidence of the delta-body, and providing plentiful nutrients. Experiencing particularly rapid change is the Vietnamese Mekong Delta (VMD). In An Giang Province an increasing number of high dyke rings, which exclude the flood and facilitate triple rice-cropping, simultaneously prevent much of the sediment load from reaching the floodplain. This paper explores the trade-offs implicit in the decision to shift from (i) doublecropping (higher sediment deposition) to (ii) triple cropping (lower sediment deposition) by asking: what is the impact of the shift on VMD farmers? Is it sustainable? And what is the significance of the associated sediment exclusion? A novel survey of An Giang rice farmers was conducted, investigating key agricultural practices, and uniquely, the farmers’ estimates of annual sediment deposition depth. The survey elicits some key changes under the adapted system (ii), particularly, unsustainable trajectories in the yield to fertiliser ratio which penalise land-poor farmers. Furthermore, the value (to farmers) of the sediment contribution to agricultural fertilisation which is lost due to triple-cropping is estimated at USD 15 (±5) million annually. We argue that our growing understanding of the importance of sediment in the deltaic social-ecological system may be revealing an emergent risk; arising from conflicting long and short-term adaptation and agricultural development objectives.
593–608
Chapman, Alexander
56014a74-348e-4bd0-b727-765dbc6f8454
Darby, Stephen
4c3e1c76-d404-4ff3-86f8-84e42fbb7970
Tompkins, Emma
a6116704-7140-4e37-bea1-2cbf39b138c3
Hồng, Hoàng
fb176444-6c82-4fcc-9a3f-a845e35ef688
Van, Tri
4d851593-74ea-4312-93a9-05a1e446eab0
Chapman, Alexander
56014a74-348e-4bd0-b727-765dbc6f8454
Darby, Stephen
4c3e1c76-d404-4ff3-86f8-84e42fbb7970
Tompkins, Emma
a6116704-7140-4e37-bea1-2cbf39b138c3
Hồng, Hoàng
fb176444-6c82-4fcc-9a3f-a845e35ef688
Van, Tri
4d851593-74ea-4312-93a9-05a1e446eab0

Chapman, Alexander, Darby, Stephen, Tompkins, Emma, Hồng, Hoàng and Van, Tri (2016) Adaptation and development trade-offs: fluvial sediment deposition and the sustainability of rice-cropping in An Giang Province, Mekong Delta. Climatic Change, 137 (3-4), 593–608. (doi:10.1007/s10584-016-1684-3).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Deltas around the globe are facing a multitude of intensifying environmental change and development-linked pressures. One key concern is the reduction in the quantity of suspended sediment reaching and building floodplains. Sediment deposition provides multiple services to deltaic social-ecological systems, in particular, countering the subsidence of the delta-body, and providing plentiful nutrients. Experiencing particularly rapid change is the Vietnamese Mekong Delta (VMD). In An Giang Province an increasing number of high dyke rings, which exclude the flood and facilitate triple rice-cropping, simultaneously prevent much of the sediment load from reaching the floodplain. This paper explores the trade-offs implicit in the decision to shift from (i) doublecropping (higher sediment deposition) to (ii) triple cropping (lower sediment deposition) by asking: what is the impact of the shift on VMD farmers? Is it sustainable? And what is the significance of the associated sediment exclusion? A novel survey of An Giang rice farmers was conducted, investigating key agricultural practices, and uniquely, the farmers’ estimates of annual sediment deposition depth. The survey elicits some key changes under the adapted system (ii), particularly, unsustainable trajectories in the yield to fertiliser ratio which penalise land-poor farmers. Furthermore, the value (to farmers) of the sediment contribution to agricultural fertilisation which is lost due to triple-cropping is estimated at USD 15 (±5) million annually. We argue that our growing understanding of the importance of sediment in the deltaic social-ecological system may be revealing an emergent risk; arising from conflicting long and short-term adaptation and agricultural development objectives.

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Submitted date: 3 April 2016
Accepted/In Press date: 30 April 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 9 June 2016
Organisations: Geography & Environment

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Local EPrints ID: 390665
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/390665
PURE UUID: 1000f19f-63ca-435b-8ac5-c0afc5e44c64
ORCID for Stephen Darby: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8778-4394

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Date deposited: 06 Apr 2016 11:00
Last modified: 10 Dec 2019 01:52

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Contributors

Author: Alexander Chapman
Author: Stephen Darby ORCID iD
Author: Emma Tompkins
Author: Hoàng Hồng
Author: Tri Van

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