Many challenges still to come in industrialisation
HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam's rural areas have experienced great changes in the last five years, but there is still a long way for the country to go in shifting from an agriculture-based economy to a basically industrialised one by 2020, said Do Thuc, head of the General Statistic Office (GSO) of Viet Nam.
Speaking yesterday at a conference announcing the result of the 4th Viet Nam Rural, Agriculture and Fishery Census, which was conducted last July,
Thuc listed the major challenges for development: small-scale rice fields that pose difficulties for large machines, the high rate of untrained labour, and the large number of still-undeveloped remote areas inhabited by ethnic people.
According to the GSO, 70 per cent of Viet Nam's population (15.34 million households) lived in rural areas as of last July - an increase of 11 per cent since 2006.
Looking at household occupations, 10.37 million families work in agriculture, accounting for 44.8 per cent of the country's population. While nearly 12 million households use agricultural land, almost 70 per cent of them own less than 0.5ha, making it difficult to industrialise the country's agricultural system.
In particular, 85 per cent of the 9.27 million households and establishments growing rice have less than 0.5ha of land.
However, in the Mekong Delta, increased land consolidation is paving the way for the success of a larger-scale rice production model, as the region accounts for 87 per cent of the households having fields with areas of more than 2 hectares in the country.
Meanwhile, the proportion of farming households in rural areas dropped to about 62 per cent last year, continuing a steady decline from nearly 81 per cent in 2001 to 71 per cent in 2006.
Pham Quang Vinh, head of GSO's Statistics on Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Department, said that achieving a yearly decrease of 2 per cent in farming household numbers was a significant accomplishment.
Moreover, he said he was impressed by the finding that the Central Highlands region, together with the southeastern region and Mekong Delta, had provided all of its communes with access to electricity. Previously, the electricity access rate of these areas lagged far behind others.
The number of communes without access to power has gone down to 17, from 100 in 2006.
However, many hamlets in remote mountainous areas where major power plants are located such as Hoa Binh, Tuyen Quang, Son La, Yen Bai, Nghe An and Quang Nam continue to lack electricity.
And the census findings also point out that nearly half of the total communes nation-wide lack kindergartens, and 51 communes don't have primary schools.
These communes are mostly located in the mountainous provinces of Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Gia Lai and Quang Nam.
About 32 million people of working age live in rural areas, but only 6.5 per cent of them have attended vocational schools and universities.
Meanwhile, when Viet Nam implemented a National Target Programme for Building New Rural Areas since 2009 with a set of 19 criteria to improve living standards in rural areas, 13 criteria were included in the census.
However, according to the census, no commune meets all the criteria.
This raises concern about Viet Nam's ability to achieve the goals laid out in the national target programme.
Nguyen Duy Luong, Viet Nam Farmers' Association chairman, said that these statistics would help policy makers create more realistic solutions for farmers and rural areas. — VNS