Art exhibition showcases artist and farmer view of livestock development in Vietnam

About 120 artworks and photos on livestock from the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum and the Livestock-led Interventions towards Equitable Livelihoods and Improved Environment in the Northwest Highlands of Vietnam, otherwise known as the Li-chăn project, will be displayed in an exhibition to be launched virtually and physically in Mai Son District, Son La Province in the Northwest of Vietnam on 12 October 2021.

The exhibition, Livestock Development in Vietnam from Artists’ and Farmers’ Perspectives, aims to raise public awareness on the role of livestock in improving people’s livelihoods and support the country’s smallholder livestock producers in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The exhibition is being developed by the Li-chăn project in collaboration with the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, one of the leading national agencies in arts and cultural research, under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Within the agricultural sector in Vietnam, livestock plays an important role. Livestock accounts for 30% of agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the agriculture sector itself accounts for 15% of national GDP. Livestock production is critical to the livelihoods of smallholders, contributes to farm income, creates employment, reduces poverty, improves diets and helps bridge the gender gap. Livestock production has always been an intimate part of the Vietnamese people, entering poetry and art with folk songs, proverbs and folk paintings passed down through generations. 

The virtual exhibition consists of three parts. The first, Livestock through the eyes of artists, exhibits the unique artwork on agriculture and livestock, diverse in both materials and themes, that is currently kept and displayed at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum.

In the second part, photographs and stories by Li-chăn farmers from Mai Son District reflect on the farmer’s perspective of livestock development. Using the ‘photovoice’ method in which farmers are equipped with camera to take pictures of their daily activites, farmers give their view on the role of livestock in their lives and the importance of selecting breeds, taking care of livestock health, growing forage, preparing feeds, composting livestock waste to improve the environment and local pig branding.

The third part exhibits the winning artwork on Livestock Development from the Public Perspective from a competition launched in September 2021.

The Livestock through the eyes of artists exhibition introduces 52 pieces of art from the collection of the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum comprising both folk and modern works. We hope this exhibition will contribute to the public’s diverse perspective on livestock, thus raising the awareness of the roles of livestock and promoting the sustainable development of our national livestock production,’ says Nguyen Anh Minh, director, Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum.

Sabine Douxchamps, Li-chăn project coordinator and country representative for the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, says ‘the exhibition is the first of its kind in the country. It will provide a forum for this unique combination of artists, farmers, and the public to share experiences and exchange views and perspectives on how the livestock sector can contribute to the livelihoods of the people, the development of the agriculture sector, and the development of the country.’

This event is especially important given how the domestic livestock sector and smallholder livestock keepers are being heavily affected by African swine fever and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key topics to be presented at the exhibition will include:

  • Livestock genetics
  • Animal health
  • Feeds and forages
  • Livestock and the environment
  • Livestock and livelihoods
  • Livestock and culture

Li-chăn is a project under the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock that aims to provide research-based solutions to transition smallholder farmers to sustainable and resilient livelihoods and to more productive small-scale enterprises that will help feed future generations. Vietnam is one of four priority countries selected to consolidate and translate research from different disciplines into a pilot study. The project runs from 2019 until the end of 2021 in Mai Son District, Son La Province. Li-chăn has been co-designed by both international and national partners. In Vietnam, the project is coordinated by the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT and the International Livestock Research Institute.