Policy-making and enforcement remains centralized in Vietnam. Policies have been formulated with less scientific and public justification, thus being largely bureaucratic and infeasible, and in many cases, they have created plagues for people at the grass-roots levels. This article focuses on the implementation of policies related to intertidal land-use and supports for clam farming in the Thaibinh province as a case study to explore the impacts of policies on clam farming and farmers. During the period of 2011–2013, provincial policies on intertidal land allocation and technical and financial supports had boosted clam farming development in the province to a surprising extent. Rapid expansion of the clam farming area has created significant consequences for the farming sector, as well as farmer’s lives. However, for the same provincial policies, but with different enforcement, different farming outcomes for clam farmers in the three study communes have resulted. Where farmers had more of a voice and choice in bidding for the intertidal areas they preferred, they faced fewer problems. It is, thus, suggested that a more decentralized policy-making and enforcement are needed, in which more scientific assessment and farmer participation are required to not only make government policy more successful in supporting farmers and achieving their expected outcomes, but also to provide farmers with more room to make their own farming decisions from which farming and marketing risks could be mitigated.
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