Điểu Kré, a member of the Party Central Committee and deputy head of the Standing Committee under the Tây Nguyên Steering Committee, speaks to Vietnam News Agency about the region’s potentials, shortcomings and future growth plans
Can you give us an overview of the Central Highlands’ advantages and socio-economic potential?
Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) has an area of 5.46 million ha, which is 16.8 percent of the nation’s total. It has a population of over 5.6 million people and they belong to 54 ethnic communities.
The Central Highlands holds a very important position in the country’s socio-economic development, and in national defence and security. It also has the biggest potential for developing agriculture, forestry, processing industry, renewable energy, tourism and bauxite extraction and processing.
Of the 5.46 million ha of natural land, two million ha are used for agricultural production and 3.2 million ha are deemed forest land.
Worth of note is that Tây Nguyên has 74.25 per cent of the country’s red basalt soil at almost 2.1 million ha. This makes the region an ideal place to grow cash crops like coffee, rubber, cashew nuts and others.
Coffee is grown on 582,000ha, accounting for 90% of coffee plantations nation-wide, with an annual yield of about 1.37 million tonnes of beans, which is also over 90 percent of the country’s total.
National productivity of robusta coffee is three times that of the world (2.5 tonnes against 0.8 tonnes a hectare).
We grow more than 82 per cent of the nation’s pepper on 70,000ha.
Coffee, rubber and pepper are the agricultural mainstays of the region.
Meanwhile, tea, particularly oolong tea, holds a very important position in Lâm Đồng Province.
To sustainably develop the agriculture sector and make it more competitive, authorities in the Central Highlands have paid much attention to processing agricultural produce, improve product quality and increase farmers’ income.
Furthermore, taking advantage of the region’s temperate climate and good natural conditions, many luxury resorts have been set up, particularly in Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng Province; and Kon Plông in Kon Tum Province.
What are some of the more noteworthy economic achievements recorded recently by provinces in the region?
In the last six years (2011-2016), the regional economy notched up several notable successes including high growth rates.
The GRDP (Gross Regional Domestic Product) in the 2011-2015 five-year period was about 10.45 percent per annum. In 2015 alone, per capita GRDP was US$ 1,658, 80.8 percent of the national average. In the year 2014, monthly per capita income increased 93 percent against over 2010, with that of urban and rural areas increasing by 85.93 percent and 89.73 percent respectively. In 2016, the GRDP per capita was VNĐ 39.56 million ($ 1,700) – an increase of 8.57 percent over the previous year.
In 2011-2015, the region attracted investments of VNĐ 265.7 trillion ($11.7 billion) – double that of the previous five years. As a result, average annual growth rate in the period was 11.33 per cent.
Despite many notable achievements, the region still faces many challenges and limitations. Agricultural development has basically happened on increasing cultivation and forestry area, and this uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources has had negative environmental and socio-economic impacts.
What can the Central Highlands do to be on par with other regions?
Under Resolution 10 of the Party Poliburo, Tây Nguyên should become one of Việt Nam’s key economic regions by the year 2020.
And more recently, at a meeting with key leaders from the Tây Nguyên Provinces, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc instructed the Tây Nguyên Steering Committee and concerned ministries and sectors to review the region’s socio-economic development plans for the 2016-2020 period and come up with suggestions and measures to achieve the five-year plan’s targets.
To implement the PM’s instructions, the Tây Nguyên Steering Committee, the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Đắk Lak Provincial People’s Committee are actively preparing for the 4th Investment Promotion Conference in the Central Highlands which is scheduled to take place on Saturday (today). We hope this event will bring more potential investors to the region. -- VNS