A forum held in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on April 15 urged for more ambition and innovation in the city’s bid to create new-style cooperatives in the face of current integration and development.

Agricultural cooperatives now play a role more important than ever amid the rapid pace of development, said Vice Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region Nguyen Phong Quang.

He highlighted the need to adapt existing cooperatives to current conditions.

Once built and operated successfully, new-style cooperatives, especially those for the Mekong Delta’s key staples of rice, aquatic products and fruits, will boost profitability and increase incomes for farmers, he added.

The Vietnam Cooperative Alliance said it plans to restructure existing agricultural cooperatives and pilot five new-style facilities in the region from now to 2016. Between 2017 and 2020, regional localities need to apply the model to 30 cooperatives.

The Mekong Delta, encompassing 12 provinces and one centrally-run city, has a farmland area of around 3.21 million hectares. It produces 70 percent of fruit, 52 percent of aquatic products, and more than 90 percent of exported rice for Vietnam every year.

By the end of 2014, the region housed 1,928 agricultural cooperatives with 531,299 households registered as members.

Though the cooperative number is fewer than in other regions, Mekong Delta cooperatives work more efficiently, according to Fatherland Front President Nguyen Thien Nhan.

However, he pointed out hindrances to improved performance, such as the poor capacity of cooperative leaders and the shortage of State assistance.

At the forum, representatives from provincial authorities and cooperatives also underlined existing advantages and disadvantages of cooperative activities and proposed policies facilitating the development of agricultural cooperatives in the future.-VNA