Leaders from 13 Mekong Delta localities and Ho Chi Minh City met at a November 26 conference in Vinh Long province to seek ways to beef up their cooperation and connectivity.

During the event, as part of the ongoing Mekong Delta Economic Forum (MDEC - Vinh Long 2013), the leaders reviewed their cooperation outcomes over the past years, while directly talking with local enterprises.

The Mekong Delta region with its advantages has acted as a supplier of material and labour to HCM City – a major cultural and economic hub of the country.

Over the past years, Mekong Delta localities and HCM City have enjoyed growing cooperation in various fields including agriculture, fisheries and production support services, ensuring food safety for the Mekong Delta region and the whole country.

During the 12 years of ties, the city’s firms have invested in 23 industrial zones in the region with over 1,000 projects totalling 260 trillion VND (12.22 billion USD).

However, the Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region admitted that the projects have faced slow progress, leading to poor efficiency.

HCM City ’s leaders suggested that the Mekong Delta localities organise a conference to review cooperation in the 2001-2013 period and subsequently hold the event every five years.

Meanwhile, cooperation with the city’s enterprises should be extended, while more bilateral cooperation mechanisms should be built to strengthen the responsibilities of each side, they said.

They also called on the steering committee for closer coordination to remove obstacles during the cooperation process.

Leaders of HCM City and the 13 Mekong Delta localities proposed that the Government should prioritise ODA for the development of key transport projects, irrigation systems and environmental protection in the region.

They also asked for more policies to utilise all natural and human resources to attract investment to the region.

The Mekong Delta region comprises of 12 provinces and one centrally-run city with a total area of 40,000 square kilometres and a population of 18 million. It is the largest granary of the country.

The same day, a seminar themed “Developing and expanding the green agriculture model in the Mekong Delta region” was held, focusing on assessing the value chain of agricultural products as a strength of the region.

It aims to promote regional localities’ access to the model, allowing them to apply it in their specific situation, thus gradually multiplying the green and hi-tech agricultural production process.

Some localities also introduced typical value chains of products like fruit and tra fish, large-scale rice field and production to VietGap standards.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Mekong Delta region has 3.8 million hectares of farmland and enjoys the best conditions for farming the country.

The region generates 40 percent of the country’s total agricultural production value, 54 percent of aquatic products, 62 percent of rice export turnover and 85 percent of catfish export value, it said.

However, the ministry warns of unsustainable agriculture production in the region as it has mainly depended on natural resources.

MARD Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam said the ministry will propose to the Government mechanisms and policies to solve difficulties for the region in investment size and sources, market and production area planning, aiming to boost green agriculture.

In the future, Mekong Delta green agriculture will be associated with aquaculture and mangrove forest conditions, contributing to coping with climate change, he added.-VNA