Our landscape program in Central Highlands addresses two key issues: extreme climate events, particularly recurring droughts; and agrochemical overuse. Through these leverage points we have a positive impact on sustainable agricultural production, rural livelihoods, and economic development.

In the recent years, frequent droughts have begun to hinder the production of key crops such as coffee. Vietnam is the world’s second biggest exporter of coffee and about 95 percent of it is produced in the Central Highlands. International coffee companies as well as the Vietnamese economy are thus affected by the change. Uncontrolled use of agrochemicals leads to toxic loading of the environment, human health risks, and reduced access to export markets due to high level of biocide residuals in agricultural products.

To address the impact of droughts, we work with public and private stakeholders to identify, test and scale up measures for farmers to adapt to climate change. These include diversifying agricultural systems, reforestation, agroforestry, and measures for more efficient water use. On agrochemical use, we collaborate with public and private 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. We focus on Lam Dong and Dak Lak provinces.

Why the program

The Central Highlands region is the agricultural power house of Vietnam. Almost all of Vietnam’s coffee (95%) is produced in this region. Other important crops from the region include pepper, tea, flowers, rubber, and cashew, fruits and vegetables. The region is also the source of over 20 percent of Vietnam’s hydropower energy.
This is all thanks to favorable natural conditions: abundant water resources 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 has 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.

Droughts lead to failed harvests, reducing farmer income and diminishing supply of commodities such as coffee to global companies trading and selling them. Over use of agrochemicals such as biocides and fertilisers degrade soils, harm human health, and the agricultural products with high biocide content cannot be sold on many export markets, again reducing farmer incomes and supplies.

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.



Title Type Year
Landscapes Information Brief: IDH’s approach to sustainable landscapes Brochure 2018
Louis Dreyfus Company: The business case for a landscape approach to sustainable coffee production in Vietnam Case Study 2018
IDH Landscape program Factsheet 2018
Overview of pesticide management, trade and use in Lam Dong Province Article 2017
Conveners Guide for Building Landscape Coalitions Report 2017

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Our Public and Private Partners


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