Land use planning must ensure that urbanisation proceeds in line with the sustainable development of agricultural production, says Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Nguyen Minh Quang.

The development of rice production alongside the industrialisation and modernisation of the country was vital for economic stability, Quang said.

"The conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural use must leave at least 3.8 million hectares for rice cultivation by 2015, no matter what, to ensure national food security," he said.

Total land under rice cultivation was currently about 4.1 million hectares, according to a ministry report.
Under a proposal from localities around the country on conversion of agricultural land, this would be reduced to about 3.6 million hectares by 2020, a proposal that has met disapproval from State agencies.

Many localities were also found to have wasted land by withdrawing fertile agricultural land for industrial use and then allowing it to sit idle. Only about 60 per cent of the total area designated for industrial zones was currently being used, while many localities were still seeking to establish new industrial zones.

In addition, unreasonable allocation of land rights has been revealed in urban areas, with a low percentage of land designated for traffic infrastructure and public works, Quang said.

The exploitation of underground and vertical space was also needed for proper urban planning, aiming at land savings as well as more comprehensive planning, he said.

Land use planning needed to be the basis for implementing all Government land policies and make the most effective use and management of land, he added. Land use planning with simplified procedures should also encourage long-term investment from both domestic and foreign enterprises, he said. /.