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Farmers continue to lose

Update: March, 20/2012 - 09:42

 

Farmers tend vegetable plants in surburban Gia Lam District. At least 150,000 farming households in Ha Noi have lost their traditional jobs in the last 10 years as 11,000 ha was turned into non-agriculture land to develop more than 1,700 urban development and industrial projects. — VNA/VNS Photo Xuan Quyet
HA NOI — Massive evictions from suburban area farmland for urbanisation and industrialisation since the 1980s had forced a large proportion of farmers to seek new livelihoods without proper preparation to become urban residents, according to researchers.

Lecturer Nguyen Van Suu from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities at Viet Nam National University said that at least 150,000 farming households in Ha Noi lost their traditional jobs in the last 10 years as 11,000 hectares were turned into non-agriculture land to develop over 1,700 urban development and industrial projects.

His data comes from a study of two suburban communes in Ha Noi, Phu Dien and Gia Minh [about 10 – 20km away from the city centre], which was presented at the 9th Viet Nam-France Economic and Financial Forum titled "Sustainable Development for Suburban Areas in Viet Nam" held in Ha Noi yesterday.

Three-fourths of the farmland had been allocated for other purposes since the 1990s while the remaining fields were scattered and small in size, he said.

Farming was no longer the sole livelihood for local residents, he said, adding that now, many former farmers rented out their houses to migrant workers or students.

"Residential urban housing projects built on seized farmland offer farmers very few jobs," he said. "The situation is better in industrial zone projects but the lack of skills and discipline prevent them from getting jobs," he said.

The shift from rural to urban lifestyle helped improve their income but challenges also arose including contradictory benefits in land-seizure-related compensation, unemployment and social evils.

In HCM City's suburban areas, the percentage of labourers working in the agriculture sector ranged from 5 per cent to 40 per cent depending on their distance to city centre, said Ton Nu Quynh Tran, director of HCM City-based Centre for Urban and Development Studies.

In urbanised areas, farmers gave up farming because of narrowing land, low income, hardship and labour scarcity. Farming service providers were also affected, she said, adding that they chose new non-agriculture jobs in sectors such as bricklaying, hair styling, and motorbike repair. However, a majority of the jobs were unstable and farmers tended to make hasty decisions in selecting a job to survive instead of caring for job sustainability, she said.

Meanwhile, job training policies in urbanised areas were not effective due to the shortage of trainers, teaching materials and the gap between training and real market need, she said.

Deputy director of the Vocational Training Department's Research Centre for Vocational Training Mac Van Tien said that job training for rural and suburban people had become an urgent need because 80 per cent of the current 36 million rural labourers were untrained.

Viet Nam targets to reduce the percentage of people working in the agricultural sector from the current 70 per cent to 30 per cent of the total workforce by 2020, equal to 19 million people.

The Programme on Vocational Training for Rural Workers through 2020, which was approved in 2009 and was the largest project ever to target rural workers, was expected to make a difference as it mobilised efforts by the Government, enterprises, scientists and the community, Tien said.

Enterprises were encouraged to get involved in designing training programmes, instructing trainees and buying products, he said.

Learners would gain an understanding of working conditions, environmental friendly production and food safety.

In his address at the two-day forum, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said that mobilisation of resources and investment in urban development infrastructure was a key solution for challenges posed by the high urbanisation rate.

The public-private partnership model was an effective channel and benefits needed to be harmonised with the Government, private investors and service users to ensure sustainable development, he said.

France's former Minister of Civil Service Christian Jacob, who is also co-chairman of the forum, said that Viet Nam needed to improve its legal framework and boost the co-ordination between central and local Governments to carry out PPP projects.

Land management and re-training for people in suburban areas to adapt to urbanisation were crucial to ensuring urban sustainability, he said. — VNS

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