14:23 | 20/06/2016 Society
(VEN) - The Mekong Delta has been a key economic zone thanks to abundant land resources and a population of nearly 18 million. However, the region is facing a lot of challenges due to climate change such as droughts and salinity intrusion. Therefore, the Vietnamese government is urgently seeking a suitable direction to promote the future development of the Mekong Delta.
Scientists indicated two major challenges facing the Mekong Delta: climate change, and economic globalization.
The Mekong Delta consists of 13 provinces and cities, covering 39,712sq.km of mainland, accounting for 12.1 percent of Vietnam’s total mainland area, and more than 360,000sq.m of waters. Its population accounts for over 19 percent of Vietnam’s population. Rice fields in the Mekong Delta account for 47 percent of the country’s total rice area and 56 percent of rice output nationwide. Rice and seafood exports from the region respectively account for 90 percent and 60 percent of rice and seafood exports nationwide.
The delta offers huge potential to develop agriculture, especially food production, aquaculture, seafood catches, and orchards, creating high export value and contributing to expanding Vietnam’s relations with the region and the world.
However, the Mekong Delta remains poor in terms of actual income. The per-capita income of local residents is about VND40.2 million per year (the per-capita income of Vietnamese people nationwide is VN47.9 million per year). This poverty is attributed to low agricultural productivity and a variety of difficulties such as low competitiveness of agricultural products, high production costs, a lack of high-quality human resources, and poor infrastructure, especially facilities to cope with climate change.
Many years ago, economists found that weak links between delta localities was a major reason hindering breakthroughs in regional socioeconomic development. The economies of 13 provinces and cities in the region have yet to create a combined strength and sometimes still hinder each other’s growth.
The prime minister has issued a regulation on setting up pilot regional links to promote socioeconomic development in the Mekong Delta in the 2016-2020 period.
The regulation involves centrally governed provinces and cities, including Long An, Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Dong Thap, Vinh Long, Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, Hau Giang, An Giang, Kien Giang, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau, and Can Tho.
Under the regulation, delta localities will promote links in the following areas:
- Producing, processing, and selling agricultural products according to the model of value chains; concentrating on building brands for key products such as rice, fruit, and seafood.
- Building, upgrading irrigation systems, preventing floods, controlling salinity intrusion; management, utilization, and protection of water resources; enhancing the effectiveness of using water for people’s lives, agricultural production, and aquaculture in the dry season; building, upgrading sea dikes, ring dikes, sewers, dams, salt marsh belts, and environmental protection and climate change adaptation projects.
- Building, upgrading the infrastructure for land, water, air transport, river ports, and seaports.
Agricultural value chains would create a significant driving force for economic development in the Mekong Delta. Localities in the region will promote links in agricultural production and popularize successful models of value chains along with developing agricultural support services.
Agricultural links can be promoted between farmers through cooperatives or between farmers and businesses to ensure sufficient material supplies for processing facilities. Besides, delta localities can also promote links in trade and investment promotion, market research and development, and sales.
Under the regulation, at least 10 percent of state allowances for localities will be used to finance programs and projects aimed at promoting regional links. Annual and five-year plans will be outlined to mobilize official development assistance and preferential loans to implement these programs and projects. Public-private partnership projects will be prioritized to be funded with reciprocal capital from the state budget.
The future of the Mekong Delta greatly depends on the determination to promote regional links and the internal strength of localities in the region.
The absence of suitable mechanisms to promote regional links is the biggest challenge to the Mekong Delta. The economies of 13 provinces and cities in the region have yet to create a combined strength and sometimes still hinder each other’s growth.