HCMC 44 years after liberation: New face of rural areas

09:03 | 04/06/2019 Economy- Society

(VEN) - Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) has undergone 44 years of development since it was liberated in 1975. Today, in the city's suburban areas, one can see farmers using smart phones to operate crop and livestock farms. High technology application in agricultural production has helped improve farmers' lives considerably.  

new face of rural areas

High technology has helped farmers escape poverty

Poverty gives place to prosperity

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, when the city was liberated, most agricultural land in the five suburban districts of Thu Duc, Nha Be, Hoc Mon, Cu Chi and Binh Chanh was uncultivated and dotted with bombs, mines and barbed wire. At that time, the entire city had only about 45,000ha of cultivated land, with rice yields reaching a mere 95,000 tonnes. From 1975-1980, sappers and young volunteers cleared 128,000 bombs and mines and nearly 2,000 tonnes of ammunition to recover the arability of 70,000ha of land.

Huynh Tuoc, an elderly farmer in Ba Diem Commune, Hoc Mon District, still remembers that following the liberation of Ho Chi Minh City, local farmers earned their living mostly by cultivating rice, fruit trees and breeding pigs, chickens and ducks with very low yields. They lived in poverty and some even faced hunger. "Farmers' lives have changed. Poverty has given place to prosperity. Some farmers have enriched their lives thanks to high technology application," Tuoc said.

According to Ho Chi Minh City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Nguyen Phuoc Trung, the municipal government has created various policies in recent years to promote agricultural development. Local farmers have become more motivated, and the face of rural areas has changed. In 2018, the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) of the city's agro-forestry-fishery sector reached VND9.61 trillion, 6.2 percent higher compared with 2017. Among the total of 352,176 rural households in the five suburban districts, only 2,154 (0.61 percent) are poor according to local standards and none of them live in poverty according to national standards.

new face of rural areas

Agricultural restructuring

The city's rural areas have turned low-yield rice fields and sugarcane plantations and ineffective salt production areas into high-tech agricultural production areas to develop six categories of plants and livestock, including vegetables, flowers and bonsais, dairy cattle, pigs, brackish water shrimp and ornamental fish. Thanks to these efforts, in the first quarter of 2019, the production value of the agro-forestry-fishery sector reached more than VND4.84 trillion, up six percent compared with the same period last year. The vegetable growing areas totaled 3,876ha, yielding 108,722 tonnes; flower and bonsai areas totaled 2,253ha; cattle heads totaled 131,500, including 34,755 dairy cows yielding 52,237 tonnes of fresh milk.

So far, 1,174 organizations and individuals in Ho Chi Minh City have received VietGAP certifications for 1,381.5ha of cultivated land yielding 129,110 tonnes of products per year. Tran Ngoc Diep, a representative of the Huong Dat Service Trading Production Company Limited in Go Vap District, said the company has vegetable gardens in Ward 15 of Tan Binh District. Using no pesticide, preservative and growth stimulating substance, only automation techniques to tend the vegetables, its Happy Vegi products sell very well at safe food shops in the city.

Established in 2012, the 20-member Mai Hoa Cooperative grows safe vegetables meeting VietGAP standards on 20ha of land in Hoc Mon District's Xuan Thoi Son Commune. Nam Hong, a member of the cooperative, said the application of a closed production process that ensures product traceability has resulted in double yields of vegetables, fruit, roots and mushrooms, and enabled the cooperative to sell its products at 1.5 times higher prices compared with traditional cultivation methods. In Hong's opinion, cooperation between farmers, scientists and distributors has benefited farmers, helping them prevent crop failure and generate higher incomes.

Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Vice Chairman Le Thanh Liem: Ho Chi Minh City is accelerating agricultural restructuring, focusing on the production of high-quality seedlings and seeds and the application of high technology to increase yields.