Senior ASEAN officials began their 9 th meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication in the central city of Da Nang on June 13.

On the agenda was rural development, eradicating hunger, reducing poverty, ensuring food security, job creation and adapting to climate change. The meeting gave the officials the opportunity to share information and put forward ways of working together to successfully develop rural areas in a sustainable manner.

When addressing the meeting, Vietnam ’s Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Dang Khoa, said that rural development, hunger and poverty have always been major concerns for the region.

Although most ASEAN member countries have recorded many positive achievements in these areas, they still face a lot of challenges, such as the impacts resulting from the global economic recession, climate change and epidemics. These problems have a negative impact on rural areas and the stability of countries, which has prevented the region from reaching all of its targets as well as the UN’s millennium goals, he said.

Over the years, the Vietnamese Government has applied a variety of different mechanisms and policies and has carried out a series of projects to develop rural areas and support households in difficulties.

In 2011, the average annual income in Vietnam ’s rural areas reached 660 USD per person, while the percentage of poor households dropped from 58 percent in 1993 to 15.5 percent in 2011.

At the same time, the country has increased the volume of food output, ensuring national food security, and has become a leading global rice exporter. More than 95 percent of villages now have access to power and nearly 14 million poor people have been provided with health care insurance.

Currently, Vietnam is focusing on a national programme targeting ‘agriculture, farmers and rural areas,’ where it will introduce a new model of rural areas.

The meeting will conclude on June 14.-VNA