Specific Policies Needed for New Countryside Construction

8:54:14 AM | 9/27/2021

With the “ecological agriculture, modern countryside and smart farmers” approach that places people at the heart of all actions, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan requested specific policies for a new rural development program in the 2021-2025 period.

Adaptive to global trends

According to Minister Hoan, in order to adapt to current megatrends such as Industry 4.0, digital transformation or climate change, the National Coordination Office for New Rural Development needs to shift the transformation mindset towards agricultural economy, a criterion for new rural development. Beside the set of 19 current criteria, new rural development needs specific instructions, not general and dogmatic.

Taking the example of the Saemaul Undong Movement (New Village Movement) in rural South Korea in the 1970s, he pointed out that the very “diligence, self-reliance and cooperation" of rural people created a stepping-stone for the miraculous leap of the South Korean economy. "All comparisons are lame but what already happened can provide lessons. Importantly, we understand what farmers think. There is always a strong magnet from cities where they can earn more money quickly and a force that pushes them away from their farmland because farming is a precarious and seasonal profession, he added.

Mr. Nguyen Minh Tien, Chief of the National Coordination Office for New Rural Development, said that most provinces, cities and central agencies have actively contributed to the feasibility study report on the program in 2021- 2025. Many units themselves increased their targets in the program. In 2021-2025, the office will develop six thematic projects within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development: Science and Technology Program; One Commune One Product (OCOP) Program; Environmental Protection, Food Safety and Rural Water Improvement Program; Rural Tourism Development Program; and the Digital Transformation Program.

In fact, labor productivity in the agricultural sector is often the lowest of all sectors. The contribution of agricultural human resources to growth is always modest. New rural development in that context is increasingly challenging although the total budget for the program in the 2021-2025 period is VND2,455.211 trillion, as much as the previous 5-year period. To date, new rural development is often coupled with infrastructure construction. To make a transformational change and place the people at the heart of action and unleash community capacity, Minister Hoan suggested adding some criteria to the current set or increasin the weight of material matters.

Concerted administrative coordination

Primary goals of the New Rural Development Program in the 2021-2025 period are to have at least 80% of communes nationwide meet new rural standards, of which 40% will achieve advanced standards and at least 10% will become model places. At the district level, the program will strive to have at least 50% of districts and towns certified to meet new rural standards, of which 20% achieve advanced standards. In addition, the country will endeavor to have 17-19 provinces and cities complete new rural development tasks recognized by the Prime Minister.

Madam Nguyen Thi Hoang Yen, Deputy Director of the Economic Cooperation and Rural Development Department, said the role of agency leaders responsible for new rural development is very important. She proposed building exemplary rural residences at the village level - the grassroots level of the program.

Mr. Le Quoc Thanh, Director of the National Center for Agricultural Extension, emphasized that new rural development necessarily resembles a project to increase production capacity for the community rather than an investment project. He also suggested taking performance as a gauge and strengthening practices.

Mr. Nguyen Nhu Cuong, Director of the Crop Production Department, said in order to build and develop a long-term rural development program, the agricultural sector needs to ensure incomes for the people. In the near future, they need to see practical and tangible benefits from the program. It is necessary to clarify specific subjects of new rural development and clearly define tasks for each specific target group, focusing on solving existing matters.

Mr. Nguyen Quoc Toan, Director of the Department of Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development, said that new rural development should focus on the “soul” - equity and enjoyment of the people. He also suggested that localities need to find successful business models in rural areas and recognize countryside-returning trends of young people. Central agencies will work on policies to inspire young people to develop the rural economy.

Highly appreciating constructive comments, Minister Hoan agreed on flexible assessment and collection of grassroots opinions. He added that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will soon work with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; the Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Information and Communications to complete the framework for new rural development in the coming time for developing tourism, building village spaces and promoting e-commerce markets.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum