The Mekong Delta forecast a per capita income of 43 million VND (2,047 USD) in 2015, a 13.1 percent increase from 2014. The city of Can Tho is expected to lead this increase with an income of 79.3 million VND (3,776 USD).

To achieve this goal, the 12 regional provinces and Can Tho city intend to restructure the agriculture, industry, and trade sectors to raise their value above 1,308 trillion VND (62.28 billion USD), which would represent an annual increase of 9.4 percent. Development in these sectors would be designed to thereby stimulate a rise in individual income, said Nguyen Phong Quang, Vice Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Southwest Region.

Specifically, local provinces will form farming areas dedicated to rice, fruit trees, and aquaculture products with high economic values and efficient productivity. Nearly 4.2 million hectares of land will be zoned for rice cultivation and 310,000 hectares for fruit trees, with an additional 800,000 hectares of water surface dedicated to aquatic products.

With these designated zones, the Mekong Delta expects to harvest 25 million tonnes of rice with 80 percent deemed high quality, 3.7 million tonnes of aquatic products, and 360,000 tonnes of fruit in 2015, bringing the region’s agricultural production value to 94 trillion VND (4.47 billion USD), a 5 percent increase from 2014, Quang said.

Efforts will also be made to strengthen the local processing industry and bring its industrial production value to 498 trillion VND (23.7 billion USD) –about 59.7 trillion VND higher than last year—he added, continuing that eight coastal provinces will focus on processing aquatic products and animal feed.

Meanwhile, coconut processing will be further developed in Ben Tre, fruit processing will be facilitated in Tien Giang, Vinh Long, and Can Tho, and sugar production will be fostered in Hau Giang, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, and Long An.

Quang also commented the region intends to generate a 2015 regional trade value over 650.2 trillion VND (30.96 billion USD), up 16 percent from 2014, and an export revenue of 11.9 billion USD, a 7.5 percent annual increase.

They will assist 80,000 businesses to expand their presence in the domestic market through wholesale and retail channels as well as trade fairs. Local exporters will receive assistance in maintaining their shipments to traditional markets like the US, the EU, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea with additional opportunities to join in a number of trade promotion activities and fairs in Russia, Germany, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates this year, Quang noted.

Further, the provinces will provide vocational training to 210,000 people across 369 educational establishments. Up to 11,000 small-scale projects will be implemented, creating jobs for 110,000 individuals and raising the employment rate in 2015 up 6 percent to more than 410,000 workers.

The Mekong Delta will also offer mortgage loans worth over 350 trillion VND (16.67 billion USD) to 254,000 low-income households, coupled with effective social welfare programmes, he said. Can Tho city also held the highest per capita income across the Delta in 2014 with 70.2 million VND (3,342 USD), compared to the regional average of 38 million VND (1,809 USD) – 7.6 percent higher than 2013.

The Mekong Delta has a total area of around 40,000 square kilometres and is home to a population of 18 million. It is a major aquaculture region and the largest rice production hub of Vietnam.-VNA