The building of new-style rural areas is now a vital strategy for the Mekong Delta’s sustainable development as the region is currently developing in an unstable and inefficient manner.

To implement the national target programme on building new-style rural areas – which involves improving accessibility, infrastructure and farming models, among other requirements - in the 2010-2020 period, all Mekong Delta localities have set up steering boards and encouraged locals to join the campaign.

Surveys in some localities show that the programme has bought in satisfactory initial results. Since 2010, Can Tho city has moblised over 424 billion VND (20.2 million USD) for building new-style rural areas in 36 communes.

It has also carried out a number of projects to support production development while speeding up changes in farming practices to increase productivity. These include forming large-scale production areas, stepping up the application of scientific and technological advances in production and providing training for rural labourers.

Thanks to these efforts, local people’s living standards have been much improved and many households have escaped from poverty.

Long An province has raised 6.5 billion VND for training rural labourers and upgrading infrastructure towards a modern agricultural sector in both technology and management.

Meanwhile, Ben Tre province has invested in building irrigation systems, markets, schools and a power grid in order to bring 25 communes in line with new-style rural requirements by 2015, with the remainder of its communes following by 2020.

Vinh Long province has also poured more than 1.78 trillion VND (85 million USD) into agricultural and rural infrastructure while Hau Giang province has mobilised over 1.2 trillion VND (57.1 million USD) for the programme.

However, some shortcomings have been seen in the implementation of the programme, as many points of the 19 criteria have proved easier to enforce in theory than in practice, meaning many provinces have yet to reach the set goal of improving the material and spiritual lives of rural residents.

To fix their weaknesses, the localities should adjust criteria for building new-style rural areas in line with their real situations, said leaders of some localities.

They also need to have policies on training young farmers so that they can master modern agriculture while accelerating the application of scientific and technological advances in all production stages, they added.

They should also develop processing industries based on their existing material sources, support craft villages and encourage all economic sectors work at improving the quality of tourism services.

The Mekong Delta region annually produces 90 percent of the country’s rice output and 65 percent of its fruit for exports. It makes up over 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).-VNA