Agricultural restructuring is essential to raise the productivity, quality and value of agricultural products while ensuring the sector’s sustainable development in the Mekong Delta region, experts said at a seminar in Soc Trang province on November 5.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Mekong Delta, comprising one city and 12 provinces, accounts for 27.2 percent of the country’s agricultural land.

As the largest farming area in the country, the region contributes 40.7 percent of the national agro-forestry output, 53.4 percent of rice, 70 percent of fruit and 68.7 percent of seafood.

Ninety percent of the country’s rice export volume and 70 percent of seafood export turnover come from the region.

However, current farming practice in the region is posing challenges to the environment. Local farmers remain poor despite the bulk of goods they produce.

Delegates at the seminar, which is part of the ongoing Mekong Delta Economic Cooperation Forum (MDEC Soc Trang 2014), put forth initiatives, measures and policies to boost the sustainable development of the local agricultural sector.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said the regional localities should focus on deploying clean production models meeting GAP, VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards to improve the quality of Vietnamese agricultural products.

He stressed the need to train human resources for the sector to meet the shift in labour structure expected during the agricultural restructuring.

The minister also called for attention to improving the region’s irrigation system to deal with climate change and natural disasters.-VNA