The banking sector will continue to give lending priority to rice production, aquaculture and fruit cultivation and processing in the Mekong Delta to help the region fully tap its potential for sustainable development, according to Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Nguyen Van Binh.

The governor made the promise at a workshop on banks’ role in agricultural restructuring and rural development in the Mekong Delta which was held in Soc Trang province on November 5 as part of the Mekong Delta Economic Development (MDEC) forum.

Governor Binh said his bank will continue investing in infrastructure development and carrying out the Government’s credit programmes to for rice production and aquaculture.

Participants focussed their discussion on the impacts of the SBV’s credit policy on agricultural restructuring and new style rural area in the region, the obstacles in credit access for business and household production units, as well as the factors affecting the quality and efficiency of credit activities in agriculture and rural development in the Mekong Delta.

They also proposed solutions to enhancing local credit organisations’ capacity in mobilising capital and lending.

It was noted that difficulties in credit activities in the Mekong Delta include the dominance of small-scale businesses; loose production-processing-consumption chain; and ineffective distribution channels.

Last year, the Mekong Delta’s credit growth reached 12.4 percent. As of September 30 this year, total outstanding loans of credit institutions in the region stood at 331.5 trillion VND (15.7 billion USD), up 8.49 percent from the end of last year and accounting for 9 percent of the national banking system’s lending. Statistics also showed nearly 70 percent of the loans were short-term.

Investment in agriculture and rural areas has increased significantly in recent years with outstanding loans totalling 160 trillion VND (7.6 billion USD) by September 30. The figure showed a 7.5 percent rise compared to the end of 2013, accounting for 22 percent of total loans in this field nationwide

The Mekong Delta, comprising one city and 12 provinces, accounts for 27.2 percent of the country’s agricultural land.

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, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.-VNA