Although Vietnam is one of the biggest rice exporters today, there is an urgent need to restructure the sector. To guide the transition from being a quantity-focused producer to a credible supplier of quality rice, this study explores the sector’s opportunities for sustainable value chain upgrading. Data was collected through focus group discussions with farmers, stacked surveys with rice value chain stakeholders, and a participatory workshop bringing several value chain actors together. Stakeholders perceive the sector’s capability to grasp opportunities (including growing export and domestic markets) to be higher than its resilience to potential threats (including more stringent food safety regulations and climate change). Three strategies are discussed for making rice value chains more sustainable; embodying sustainability in the product through certified sustainable production labels; internalizing sustainable production standards through vertical coordination (e.g., contract farming); and disembodying sustainability through book and claim certificate trading.
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