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Farmers push for land security

Update: June, 30/2012 - 09:29

Deputy director general of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development Dr Vu Trong Binh spoke to Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today) about extending land-use rights for farmers.

What is the significance of the land-tenure extension debate?

It has great significance for farmers. But in my opinion, agricultural land plays a strategic position in the nation's food security.

Land tenure, for farmers whose life is tied to agricultural production, should be longer than others. In reality, master plans for urban development or building industrial parks have used up quite a large part of agricultural land. In such a case, the duration of the tenure should be considered carefully.

To grant land tenures of more than 50 years to farming households, it is important to conduct thorough research on what type of commodities will be produced and the production scope. This is a way to encourage commodities production development in our primary industry – agriculture.

Another point I want to raise here is, the extension of the land tenure should go hand-in-hand with policies on land aggregation, agricultural commodities promotion or improving the added value and sustainable development of our agriculture production.

A number of people, including professor Dang Hung Vo, former deputy minister of the Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), proposed that the tenure should have a duration of 70 to 99 years. How do you respond to that?

I think that land tenure should be based on land-use planning, whether it is used for agricultural production, industrial development or urban development. Core land for agriculture is vital to the country's food security, in my opinion. It should be granted to farming households permanently. It will then enable the land owner to sell or transfer at his or her own will. Of course, for land in regions that have a strategic use the treatment must be different.

Do you think the 50 years land tenure is sufficient for the farmers to stabilise their production?

Principally speaking, the longer the tenure, the higher the efficiency of the land in terms of agricultural investment, including irrigation infrastructure, electricity and roads. The investors will feel at ease in their investment. But this policy should only be applied to Vietnamese investors.

Relating to the land limit, MONRE's Minister Nguyen Minh Quang recently told the National Assembly that it would increase by three or even four times the existing land limit. That means the limit will be from 15 to 20ha? How do you comment on that?

For Viet Nam, 15-20 ha is very large areas, as over 99 per cent of farming households at present have less than 1 ha for cultivation. Here, I just want to emphasis the need to differentiate the difference between agricultural policy and the policy for farmers.

Priority should be given to farmers who are directly engaged in agricultural production. The land limit should also vary from one region to another. In the case of a farming household that is given a large plot of land to cultivate that they don't need to work themselves, they should hire others to do so instead. In such a case we have to classify them as an agricultural enterprise, not a farming household. They will operate under the enterprise law.

The land limit scope relates closely to the process of production gearing towards the path of agricultural modernisation and green and sustainable production.

I think it is time for us to start building an agricultural industry with an eye on farm production management.

Economist Pham Chi Lan said Viet Nam has still to formulate a comprehensive strategy on land. How do you respond to that?

It is imperative to have good planning for agricultural production for each region or sub-region. Going a long with that we should grant a land limit together with a strategy on land use in each region or sub-region. If everything is clear, I think farmers will feel comfortable in their investment. Of course, in agricultural planning, it requires the Government/Parliament to make a commitment to honour what is written in the land limit, except in special cases – the land is revoked for public utilities or for national security. In such a case, the land compensation price should be regulated by the Government. — VNS

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