In the Central Highlands, IDH collaborates with coffee roasters and exporters, the Vietnamese government, research institutions and NGOs towards improving livelihoods, enhancing agricultural production and protecting natural resources. We do this by addressing key agriculture-led environmental issues through governance and field level activities.  

Vietnam is the world’s second biggest coffee exporter after Brazil and 95 percent of its coffee is produced in the Central Highlands region. Other important crops such as pepper, tea, fruits and vegetables, flowers, rubber, and cashew are also produced in this region, making the Central Highlands vital for Vietnamese economy as well as for international companies sourcing from the country.

The region’s economic power is thanks to its favorable natural conditions: abundant water resources (which besides agriculture, currently contribute to 22 percent of Vietnamese hydropower energy), fertile lands, and forests regulating the climatic conditions and water cycle among other.

The rapid growth in agricultural output in the past decades is the consequence of favorable economic policies and has led to improvements in income and livelihoods to a large portion of the population. However, it also led to large-scale deforestation, water pollution and land degradation, which now threaten the future of agriculture, livelihoods and economic development in the region. Two key threats are:

  1. Extreme climate events, in particular recurring droughts, which are negatively affecting the production of key crops, especially coffee
  2. Toxic loading of the environment and limited access to export markets because of high biocide residue levels in agricultural products. This is caused by various risk factors in the use and trade of agrochemicals.

Due to a strong request from the private sector, government of Vietnam and mandate from international donors, IDH addresses these issues through its ISLA program. We work at governance and field levels.

In the case of adaptation to extreme climate events, we work with public and private stakeholders in order to identify, test and scale up adaptation measures at farm- and landscape levels. These include diversification of agricultural systems, reforestation and agroforestry to enhance watershed functions, efficient water use, and water resource conservation and management.

To address toxic loading, we collaborate with public and private sector stakeholders, to identify the most important risk factors at user, trade, and governance levels and jointly pilot and scale-up solutions.

Our activities are two-pronged: we work at governance level (convening) and we carry out field-level activities, all addressing the key issues and all in partnership with public and private sectors.

Green Growth Planning

Lam Dong Province is one of our focus areas where we aim to link agricultural productivity to safeguarding the province’s natural resources. In close collaboration with the private sector operating in the area, the provincial and national governments, knowledge partners and NGOs, IDH is supporting the provincial government to develop a green growth plan based on strategies to increase the production of agricultural commodities while restoring and/or conserving water resources and forests.  This plan will be supported by a land use plan, detailing how the various strategies spatially reinforce one another. This will help determine which strategy can best be employed where, and will provide directions for the scaling-up of a number of pilot projects by IDH as well as initiatives by the government, development partners, and the private sector.
Landscape governance

IDH convenes private sector companies and government organizations in the provincial Landscape Steering Committee in Lam Dong. One of the key outcomes of the work of the Steering Committee is a (draft) long-term vision for sustainable agriculture and natural resource management in 2025, with medium-term targets for 2020. This will be the basis for the Green Growth Plan that will be developed in 2017.

Related to the Steering Committee are two technical working groups on water and (agro)forestry, with participation of knowledge institutions, technical government and company staff. These discuss the design, (intermediate) results, and recommendations of the different pilot projects of the landscape program and beyond.

These activities will be scaled by replication to other provinces.



  • Through the Steering Committee and Water Working Group, IDH is convening stakeholders to identify the biggest risks, pilot solutions, and develop conditions for scaling these up – including an enabling policy- and regulatory framework.
  • On the latter element, we are supporting the Government of Vietnam in implementing elements in its (draft) irrigation law, including irrigation water pricing and PPP investment in irrigation infrastructure and services.

Field-level projects

Piloting options to adapt farms to droughts and to ensure water is used responsibly (both in Lam Dong and Dak Lak provinces):

  • Water harvesting in sloping areas, among others by the development of ponds and reservoirs as a cascade system managed by communities
  • Efficient irrigation systems, such as drip and sprinkler irrigation. The systems are not new, but their application at small scale coffee farms is not widespread. The pilots will hence also look at the financial and technical feasibility of the application of these systems on small coffee farms.
  • Installing water flow meters to make farmers more aware about the amount of water they use for irrigation and to make more accurate recommendations to the farmer about water use
  • Water pricing, will be piloted with an agricultural cooperative producing vegetables.

Piloting adaptation options in the area of forestry/agroforestry which are closely related to the water issues:

  • Integrate drought-tolerant and economically useful tree species within existing coffee farms, to provide shade for the coffee crop, improve micro-climate conditions; provide additional income for farmers.
  • The coordination of different water & (agro)forestry adaptation measures at a landscape level. We do this by developing a detailed land-use plan in a district and commune where coffee is produced.

The (intermediate) results from our pilot projects feed back into the governance work.

Responsible Agrochemical Management


  • Convening via Agrochemicals Task Force
  • IDH assigned Fresh Studio to conduct an issue and baseline analysis of agrochemical use across different crops in Lam Dong, which serves as a basis for planning further field-level and governance interventions.

Field-level projects

Pilot projects are in development.

Chi Tran Quynh

Landscape Manager, Vietnam

phone+84 913 547712

e-mailemail me

Daan Wensing

Director Landscape Program

phone+31 (0) 6 1588 3096

e-mailemail me

Manizha Kodirova

Communication Officer, Landscapes

phone+31 (0) 30 230 5660

e-mailemail me

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Sectors: Apparel, Aquaculture, Coffee, Spices, Tea

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