Advocating Paradigm Shift in Mindset, Awareness and Objectives for Rural Development

9:12:07 AM | 2/1/2024

The National Target Program on New Rural Development for the 2021-2025 period is progressively actualizing the objective of constructing an “Ecological Agriculture, Modern Countryside, and Civilized Farmers”. This involves transitioning rural economic development from a singular value to a multifaceted value system. The program is dedicated to cultivating the image of professional farmers and bolstering household economies in synergy with businesses and markets, said Mr. Ngo Truong Son, Director of the Central Coordination Office for New Rural Development, in an interview with the Vietnam Business Forum.

Despite the numerous challenges faced in 2023, the National Target Program on New Rural Development was able to not only meet but exceed all targets set by the Government and the Prime Minister. Could you elaborate on the specific outcomes and achievements of this program?

The accomplishments of the latest rural development initiative have significantly revitalized the aesthetic appeal of rural landscapes, elevated social and economic infrastructure, and orchestrated a comprehensive restructuring of the agricultural sector. Agriculture development has not only bolstered the financial well-being of rural inhabitants but has also enhanced their overall quality of life.

In 2023, rural reforms accelerated with 6,370 communes meeting new rural development standards. Among these, 1,612 achieved advanced standards, 256 were certified as exemplary models, and 270 districts met the standards. 20 provinces and cities achieved 100% certification. Five of these provinces were honored with recognition from the Prime Minister for this remarkable accomplishment. The One Commune One Product (OCOP) initiative has witnessed a remarkable surge both in quantity and quality, marked by increasingly popular branding with 11,056 products certified as 3-star or higher. The nation now has nearly 20,500 agricultural cooperatives and 19,660 farms.

As we are now three years into the National Target Program on New Rural Development for the 2021 - 2025 period, what actions should the Central Coordination Office for New Rural Development and localities undertake to ensure the successful realization of the program’s objectives in the remaining period?

In the 2023-2025 period, it is projected that at least 80% of communes and 50% of districts/towns will achieve the new rural development standards as outlined in our targets. Approximately 17-19 provinces and cities are expected to be acknowledged by the Prime Minister for accomplishing the new rural development tasks. Furthermore, 60% of villages and hamlets in extremely disadvantaged communes in border, mountainous, coastal areas, and islands are anticipated to meet the new rural development criteria established by their respective Provincial People’s Committees.

The program has been designed to not only construct infrastructure systems, facilities, and robust institutions, but also to foster economic development, preserve rural identity, uphold traditional culture, and enhance the capacity of rural communities. The program integrates economics, culture, and society in rural areas in a close and synchronous manner.

The construction of new countryside signifies a revolution in thinking, awareness, and objectives, leading to a shared understanding that we are initiating a revolution and a solution to address the conflicts and contradictions in rural urbanization and modernization. Consequently, provinces and cities need to proactively research and promulgate specific mechanisms and policies to expedite the progress and enhance the quality of program implementation in line with their actual local conditions.

Provinces and cities need to intensify their communication efforts to raise the awareness of public employees and rural residents, improve the quality of new rural construction emulation movements, and the “whole nation joins hands to build new countryside” campaign in 2021-2025 launched by the Prime Minister, aligned with the “All people unite to build new rural areas and civilized urban areas” campaign. They need to develop plans to carry out communications for the program in 2024. They need to actively balance and allocate sufficient resources like counterpart capital from the local budget to mobilize other resources to invest in new rural construction; encourage entrusted lending through social policy banks, prioritize the OCOP Program, small and medium-sized processing technology application, environment and rural water supply; mobilize economic entities to register for support for localities (districts and communes) in new countryside construction. Each province should establish a trade and investment promotion center and assign it to coach and mentor startup and agricultural production and to create innovation pressures to help people identify opportunities on that journey and envisage challenges in agricultural production.

The Central Coordination Office for New Rural Development outlines key tasks in the forthcoming period: Continue to research, review and perfect the policy system to support new rural development to promptly remove difficulties and problems for localities, ensure compliance with actual conditions to accelerate the progress and effectiveness of the program; expedite the implementation progress of the program according to specific components and contents, strengthen decentralization and give more active decision-making power to localities, communities and people; focus on directing the implementation of the program in a practical direction, ensure effectiveness and sustainability as affirmed by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan - the new core point of this stage is “building new rural areas to create the ‘core’ but keep the ‘soul’ and rural cultural identity”; further improve the coordinating quality and effectiveness of central and local agencies in advisory activities; and adhere to the principle of “placing people at the heart” and encourage communities and people to participate in new rural construction.

Agriculture development has not only bolstered the financial well-being of rural inhabitants but has also enhanced their overall quality of life

How can we ensure effective and sustainable implementation of rural tourism development, a key task in the 2021-2025 National Target Program on New Rural Development, to achieve new rural standards?

Agricultural and rural tourism serves as a conduit for conveying the cultural and historical values, as well as products imbued with the essence of the countryside, to consumers. This, in turn, aids in the creation of unique tourism brands for each locality. The development of tourism in villages and communes is centered around enhancing community capacity and constructing new rural areas, predicated on a shift in mindset from agricultural production to rural economic development.

The development of sustainable rural tourism necessitates a focus on community and identity factors, rather than chasing ephemeral trends. Rural tourism becomes an integral part of the community, requiring the interconnection of households within the same village and the integration of natural and agricultural landscapes. Tourists are drawn to the countryside not only to experience its aesthetic appeal but also to comprehend the rhythm of village life.

For the smooth, consistent and effective development of the program, commerce is merely one component of the process. Education and cultural exchange serve as vital instruments for showcasing the beauty of rural areas. Agritourism education emerges as the most crucial aspect. Tourism transcends mere experience and presents an opportunity for learning, inspiration, and discovery. Travel businesses can play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between farmers and tourists, facilitating comprehensive information exchanges.

Thank you so much!

By Minh Ngoc, Vietnam Business Forum