People and organisations who join in preserving and developing handicraft villages in Ho Chi Minh City can have access to preferential loans.

This is part of the 3-year plan over the preservation and development of handicraft villages that the municipal People's Committee approved last year.

The plan attached the importance of the preservation of the handicraft villages with the development of new rural areas in these villages so that they can develop in a more sustainable manner.

Building infrastructure, improving production capacity, protecting the environment and promoting local traditions and cultural identities are among 18 criteria for building the new rural areas - a programme launched by the Government in 2010.

According to the city's Agriculture and Rural Development, in 1999, the city had about 65 traditional handicraft villages, but now, there are about only 20 left.

Vice chairwoman of Thai My commune People's Committee Pham Thi Hieu stated that the commune was famous for rattan village for almost a hundred years.

Now, it was struggling to survive because of reduced demand, higher production cost and low income, she noted.

She pointed out that previously, more than 1,000 local households made rattan products, but now, the number had reduced to about 300.

Local people gave up this profession because their daily income was only 20,000–30,000 VND per person, not enough for them to afford a daily life, she said.

Vice director of the department Le Hong Hoanh said that a number of the handicraft villages disappeared as a result of urbanisation and tougher competition.

"But it cannot deny that the existing handicraft villages help change the economic structure in rural areas towards modernisation and industrialisation," she added.

Some examples were crocodile farming in Thanh Xuan village, girdle cake making in Phu Hoa Dong village in Cu Chi district and flower-growing villages in District 12 and Thu Duc district.

Chairman of Phu Hoa Dong commune People's Committee Nguyen Thanh Son pointed out that cake making workshops in the commune offered jobs for over 1,200 people.

Each day, the commune produced about 38 tonnes of girdle cakes, 80 percent of which were for export, he noted.

"The traditional work helps improve income for local people and reduce poverty," he said, adding that resources mobilised to build new rural areas could help vital handicraft villages and strengthen their development.

Under HCM City's plan on the preservation of handicraft villages, the city would also offer support to seek market for products, boost trade promotion and develop tourism in these villages.-VNA