The Ministry of Planning and Investment and local governments in the Mekong Delta plan to set up three new cooperative models for farming fruits, “tra” fish, and rice.

One of the tasks under a project to improve the condition of local people, it will be carried out in two phases in Can Tho city and the delta's 12 provinces.

The first phase, which began in July and will end in October, involves appraising the Delta's collective economic sector and functioning of existing cooperatives and proposing new cooperative models for the region's three key products.

The second phase, to go on until July 2016, will see implementation of the new models.

The delta's individual economy has developed well and the region has designated special areas for growing rice and fruits and aquaculture, according to the ministry.

But people are still poor and do not have stable incomes because they do not have stable markets for their products.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong said the 2012 Cooperative Law offers a suitable model for fixing these problems by providing members of cooperative inputs at low prices, production techniques and technologies, and guaranteed outlets, he added.

Can Tho and the 12 provinces have 1,300 cooperatives with 23,260 members and 45,000 cooperative teams, according to the Southwestern Region Steering Committee.

Full-fledged cooperatives should have at least seven members while those with at least three are considered cooperative teams.

Only 2-5 percent of farmers in the Delta are members of cooperatives, with the main hurdles to membership being low education standards and poor management of the cooperatives, local authorities said.

Huynh Chi Nguyen, deputy director of the Hau Giang Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said most of the province's 106 cooperatives are small and have difficulty in finding regular outlets for their produce.

Besides suitable mechanisms and policies, human resources are also a key aspect in developing cooperatives, he said.

Ngo Hong Chieu, deputy director of the Dong Thap Province Department of Planning and Development, said people with money and education prefer to set up their own companies rather than join cooperatives.

Of the province's 200 cooperatives, only a few have chairpersons with a university degree, he pointed out.

Most cooperatives offer basic services like pumping water and supplying breed stock and seeds. It is difficult for them to attract members since most cannot find stable markets for their produce.

Nguyen Quoc Hai, chairman of the Can Tho City Cooperative Alliance, said problems related to policies, funding, and human resources and a lack of successful model.-VNA