Vietnamese land-tenure policy reforms were embedded into general economic reforms (Doi Moi), enabling the country’s transition toward a market economy. Since 1998, they were implemented incrementally together with complementary instruments such as agricultural market liberalization and new economic incentives. Major steps included disentangling socialist producer cooperatives and assigning land-use rights to its former members, developing and adapting a national legal framework (Land Law), and enhancing tenure security through gender-balanced inheritable land-use certificates. In addition to promoting individualized rights, successive reforms have contributed to accelerating the agricultural transformation process by encouraging perennial crop and agroforestry systems (and thus long-term leasehold), and allowing rural land rental and land sales markets to re-emerge. During the 1990s, combined reform efforts sped up agricultural growth and industrialization, thereby enhancing food security, and combating hunger and rural poverty. Individualized rights, liberalized product and input markets, and a new entrepreneurial spirit resulted in intensified irrigated rice production, agricultural diversification, and better food quality. Although reform achievements—accompanied by policy interventions such as export quotas—are tremendous in terms of improved nutritional status and rural livelihoods, more efficient farming and agrarian structures, more secure land investment, access to collateralized credit, and poverty reduction, some challenges to consolidate reforms exist. These challenges include addressing increased urban–rural and regional income disparities, landlessness resulting from emergency land sales, misuse of local elites’ power in land allocation, and endangered “commons” through land privatization.
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The purpose of the Mekong Land Research Forum online site is to provide structured access to published and unpublished research on land issues in the Mekong Region. It is based on the premise that debates and decisions around land governance can be enhanced by drawing on the considerable volume of research, documented experience and action-based reflection that is available.