A inter-village road was concreted in northern Son La province. (Source: VNA)

Son La (VNA) – Building new-style rural areas has been a top priority of northern Son La province as the mountainous locality sets goals to beat poverty as fast as it can to achieve sustainable development.

Over the past three years, the province concreted more than 960 kilometres of roads at a total cost of 1.06 trillion VND (47.17 million USD) as part of its new-style rural area programme.

Some 31 percent of the investment was sourced from the State while the remaining was contributed by local residents.

Many locals volunteered to donate land, money and work hours for the construction of over 39 kilometres of roads in Yen Chau district, worth 35.5 billion VND.

Roads in Son La now stretch the length of more than 9,000 kilometres, 67 percent of which have been solidified.

Thanks to the locality’s great effort, three of its communes – Chieng Xom in Son La city, Muong Giang in Quynh Nhai district and Chieng Ban in Mai Son district – were recognised as new-style rural areas in 2015.

It has ten communes that almost meet all 19 new-style rural area criteria. On average, each commune has fulfilled 6.5 criteria.

Chieng Xom, the first commune that earned the title, has advantages in agribusiness. It has established three agricultural cooperatives and an agriculture extension club to support the sector’s development.

Vocational training was provided for nearly 340 farmers while authority encouraged local merchants to trade the farmers’ products.

Income per capita of the commune is currently 19.5 million VND per year (approximately 868 USD).

Meanwhile, Chieng Ban is the largest “coffee plantation” of the North-western region where coffee yields 2.5 tonnes per hectare and farmers earn three times as much as they get from other crops.

Poverty rate in the commune was reduced to below 6 percent and families with yearly income above 100 million VND (4,450 USD) account for around 60 percent of the total households.

According Pham Van Khanh, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Chieng Ban, local coffee growing areas increased from 20 hectares in 1998 to 1,000 hectares today, making up 66 percent of the district’s total farming areas and 11 percent of the province’s coffee areas.

Son La is home to 12 ethnic minority groups. Some five out of its 11 districts and city are defined as poor while 99 communes and 1,340 villages are listed as extremely poor.

The province looks to have five more new-style rural communes and 53 others which fulfill 10-18 criteria by the end of this year.

The national target programme on building new-style rural areas, initiated by the Government in 2010, sets 19 criteria on socio-economic development, politics, and defence, aiming to modernise rural areas.

The criteria cover the development of infrastructure, the improvement of production capacities, environmental protection, and the promotion of cultural values.

The country aims to have 50 percent of all communes nationwide meeting all the requirements by the end of 2020.-VNA