The progress of new rural development is reflected in the improvement of farmers’ spiritual and material lives, said National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung at a conference to review the five-year implementation of a Party resolution on agriculture, farmers and rural areas held in Hanoi on January 3.

Agriculture, farmers and rural areas are strategic issues, thus industrialisation and modernisation must be implemented in agricultural production activities. Farmers need new technologies and skills to increase their agricultural productivity, added the NA Chairman who is also Head of the Steering Board Committee on the implementation of the Party Central Committee’s Resolution 7 (10 th tenure) on agriculture, farmers and rural areas.

According to the Steering Board Committee, agricultural production has been much improved in both quality and quantity, contributing to national food security, job creation and a rising export level following five years of implementing the Resolution on agriculture, farmers and rural areas.

Education, healthcare and culture in rural areas have benefited from investment. As a result, farmers’ material and spiritual wellbeing have been much improved. The outlook of rural areas has changed towards modernisation and progress.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Cao Duc Phat noted that 93.1 percent of the country’s villages have completed their new rural area construction master plans. By September 2013, villages on average had achieved eight out of a total of 19 national criteria set for new rural development.

Average income per capita in rural areas is estimated at 19.97 million VND (nearly 950 USD) in 2013, 2.18 times more than 2008, said the minister. The household poverty rate in 2013 was 12.6 percent, representing a drop of two percent every year since 2008.

Minister Phat also noted that the agricultural growth rate continued to decline, modernisation in agricultural production was slow, and the competitiveness and productivity of many agricultural products remained weak. Income inequality between urban and rural residents was high. Private investment in rural areas fell from 1.48 percent (2004-2008) to 0.89 percent (2009-2013). Over the last five years, 3,486 private businesses have been established with a total investment capital of over 126 trillion VND, but another 475 businesses have been shut down.

The Government has spent a lot of money developing rural infrastructure over the last five years. Hydraulic infrastructure investment has been prioritised to ensure irrigation and drainage works. Irrigation and drainage have effectively served production in rural areas. The total irrigation capacity reached 6.92 million hectares of rice crops and 1.5 million of other crops, and the total drainage capacity covered 1.75 million hectares of agricultural land. To date, 98 percent of villages have wide roads to drive vehicles to the village centre.

Nguyen Quoc Cuong, Chairman of the Vietnam Farmers’ Association, expressed his opinions on the issue at the review conference, saying that suitable policies relating to small production, investment, credit and insurance need to be offered to the right people at the right time.

The Steering Board Committee concluded that new rural development requires flexible and practical policies. The duties and responsibilities of individuals and collectives should be clarified. Diversified resources and community participation should be enhanced. To make the new rural development programme successful, it needs to have road maps and rational steps based on local resources and the role of local people.-VNA