HAU GIANG (VNS)— Dai Thanh is the first commune in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta to meet all 19 criteria for "new rural areas".
After three years of implementing the Government's new rural area programme, the commune, located in Hau Giang Province's Nga Bay Town, met requirements on infrastructure, environmental protection, social security, agricultural and business production, residents' livelihoods, and culture, among others.
The number of poor households in the commune fell from 7.7 per cent in 2010 to 3.9 per cent, with a total of 111 poor households.
The commune's per capita income increased to VND23.9 million (US$1,130), up VND6.9 million from 2010.
Of the commune's 2,800 households, 18 had an income of more than VND1 billion a year.
At least 110 households had an income of VND500 million a year and 450 households an income of VND100-500 million a year.
Local farmers said their lives had improved over the last year after authorities encouraged them to switch to more high-value crops and livestock.
Farmer Tran Van A in the commune's Son Phu Hamlet, for example, now earns hundreds of millions of dong a year from king oranges and grapefruit in his 1.4-ha orchard. A decided to switch from growing rice and sugarcane three years ago.
"Farmers here are becoming wealthy from growing king oranges and grapefruit," he said.
The hamlet now has no poor households.
The commune has also set up farmers' co-operatives to improve production and promote products.
The recently established Dai Thanh Co-operatives Alliance, for example, produces disease-free citrus seedlings to supply to local farmers. They also buy fruit from farmers and sell them to supermarkets.
Luu Minh Luan, an alliance member, said farmers were now producing high-quality fruits with the help of the alliance.
Duong Van Giang, chairman of Dai Thanh People's Committee, said local residents had agreed to participate in the new rural area programme and had also donated land to build roads.
The commune has invested more than VND380 billion ($18 million) in the programme, according to the Nga Bay Town's Programme Steering Committee.
Of the figure, local residents contributed the equivalent of VND102 billion through donations of land, labour, money and materials.
The commune has also upgraded and expanded 53km of rural roads and built an irrigation and dyke system that covers 2,058ha of land.
Up to 98.8 per cent of the commune's households now have access to the power grid.
Dai Thanh is one of 11 communes that Hau Giang chose to implement the Government's new rural area programme.
Hau Giang's two other communes – Tan Tien in Vi Thanh City and Vinh Thanh in Vi Thuy District – expect to meet all criteria set for a new rural area soon.
The Government's new rural area programme officially began in 2010. — VNS