Ha Noi People's Committee vice chairman Tran Xuan Viet spoke to the newspaper Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today) about the city's budget priorities for upgrading rural areas.
Is Ha Noi different from other localities in carrying out the national programme to upgrade rural areas?
Yes, Ha Noi is the nation's capital, yet it has 401 rural communes with 4 million farmers.
In addition, rural infrastructure is still poor while agricultural production remains on a small scale and there is a big gap in the income between people living in towns and countryside. That's why Ha Noi rural development needs huge capital resources. For the time being, we are focusing on formulating a proposal on rural development. Hopefully by the end of this month we'll have it completed, with a list of priorities. Of course, essential infrastructure building and agriculture production development are among the top priorities.
Many new towns and industrial zones have been rapidly developed in Ha Noi. How will it impact on rural development?
There will be negative and positive impacts. Rapid urbanisation will bring more advantages to rural areas, most importantly in infrastructure development. However, it will cause many challenges to farmers, ranging from re-employment of those who lose their farming land to development, to its effects on culture and others.
One of the worse impacts has been careless construction work.
Though rapid urbanisation is taking place in the city, not much crop land is being lost. At present Ha Noi has 104,000ha of crop land. Under the city's development master plan, by 2015 Ha Noi will have 92,000ha of crop land. That means about 12,000ha of the cropping land will be eaten up by urban development.
How much money will the city spend on developing rural areas?
We've decided to allocate 35 per cent of its budget to the programme.
The money will mostly be used on building infrastructure facilities, including schools, roads and health clinics. This figure is much bigger than in other provinces and cities. In addition, the city provides finance to large organisations involved in the movement. For example, we have supported the Ha Noi Farmers' Union with VND300 billion ($14.5 million) to lend to its members at low interest rates to help them develop production.
Do enterprises operating in Ha Noi invest in agriculture and rural development in the city?
In the launching ceremony last September, enterprises operating in the capital committed more than VND200 billion ($9.7 million) to the programme. The sum looks big, but I don't think it is big enough to meet the requirements. In my opinion, the bottleneck of the issue lies in the policy. It is not lucrative enough to attract enterprises, even though the Government has issued Decree 61 to encourage enterprises to invest in agriculture and rural development.
Does the city have any measures to promote enterprises to invest in agriculture and rural development?
Yes, we have drafted some preferential policies to encourage business to invest in agriculture and rural development. Hopefully they will soon be approved by the Ha Noi People's Council.
In these documents, we want to give special treatment to businesses involved in the work of land consolidation, mechanisation and development of agricultural commodities, including high quality rice, tea, safe vegetables and industrial livestock production. In addition, we also encourage enterprises investing in agricultural processing, slaughterhouses and so on.
What will be the role of the Ha Noi Farmers' Union in the programme?
The union, with its 5 million members, is a big organisation. I think if the organisation is a part of the show the programme will be a success. The farmers' union will take part in communication activities and encourage farmers to apply advanced technology in production, environmental protection and road building. — VNS