Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a budget of 470 billion VND (about 22 million USD) to help preserve and develop rice fields in nine cities and provinces across the country.

Northern Bac Ninh, central Thanh Hoa, Da Nang, Quang Ngai are among the provinces earmarked for attention, but most of the funds will go to Mekong Delta provinces such as Tay Ninh, Vinh Long, Hau Giang, Dong Thap and Kien Giang.

A Government study has revealed that rapid urbanisation and industrialisation as well as infrastructure development have led to a decline in rice fields throughout Vietnam.

Government Decision 35/2015 will serve as a keystone policy to assist localities in preserving and developing rice fields, ensuring the country's rice production capacity in the future.

The decision stipulates that for each hectare of rice field in production, localities may receive up to 1 million VND (46.5 USD) on top of other on-effect subsidies provided by the State.

The decision also encouraged localities to convert other types of land into rice fields with subsidies of up to 10 million VND (465 USD) for each hectare.

The budget will also be used for land enrichment, upgrading water irrigation systems and supporting local farmers to apply scientific and technological advances in rice production.

In addition, the decision required localities and individuals to be committed to and legally responsible for the preservation of rice fields and the environment. Reports on rice fields under local authority management will be submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on an annual basis.

A recent report by the agricultural ministry said the country must maintain rice production levels at 39.8 million tonnes in 2020 and 40.5 million tonnes in 2030 to ensure national food security.

The task of preserving rice fields is of great importance as Vietnam is among the list of countries most affected by climate change. Up to 70 percent of its rice fields will be adversely affected by rising sea-level by the end of the century.-VNA