Africa / Agriculture / Asia / Biodiversity / Environment / Film and video / Ghana / Indigenous Breeds / Livelihoods / NRM / Southeast Asia / Trade / Vietnam / West Africa / WLE

Here be dragons–and lions: Agricultural growth and development in Asia and Africa

Dragon #1 on temple in Hue, ancient capital of Viet Nam

Dragon head detail on a gate to the walled Citadel of Hué, the former, imperial, capital of Viet Nam from the 17th to 19th centuries and national capital until 1945. Located in the middle of the country along the Perfume River, Hué’s Citadel, like Beijing’s Forbidden City, housed only emperors and their concubines and closest staff (picture credit: ILRI/MacMillan).

Seems a good idea to start the new year, and decade, with some development success stories.

Both Viet Nam, in Southeast Asia, and Ghana, in West Africa, appear to be two of the world’s new economic development tigers (or is it dragons and lions?)

Twenty years ago, Viet Nam was one of the poorest countries in the world. By opening up its markets, it is now set to join the ranks of middle-income countries. Significant economic reforms starting in the late 1980s targeted agriculture as well as health and education. Agriculture was central to the country’s economic growth and Viet Nam is now a leading exporter of rice, coffee and several other crops. The country’s average growth rate of 7 per cent a year from 1990 through 2008 lifted millions out of poverty, reducing the number of people living on just a dollar a day from 63 per cent in 1993 to 22 per cent in 2006. The challenges Viet Nam now faces include widening gaps in development, which is leaving behind many rural and ethnic people, and preserving the country’s forests and biodiversty, which have been sidelined in the steady march of economic progress.

Ghana achieved growth through agriculture, particularly through reform of the cocoa sector and adoption of new cassava varieties that are disease-resistant and require low inputs. Ranked among the top 5 countries in the world for its agricultural growth, which has averaged more than 5 per cent a year during the last 25 years, Ghana is on track to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal—to halve poverty and hunger between 1990 and 2015. More efficient farming techniques and better protection of Ghana’s natural resources will be key to sustaining this growth and balancing it with much-needed environmental protection.

This information and more is provided in two short (about 4-minute) films about development in Ghana (October 2010) and Viet Nam (December 2010) produced by the Overseas Development Institute, a leading UK think tank on international development and humanitarian issues, and TV/E, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Visit the Development Progress website to find these and other stories of outstanding development progress from around the world produced with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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