Life has become distinctly better for residents of Dinh Hoa Commune.
The commune in Kien Giang Province's Go Quao District is about to harvest 3,780ha of the winter-spring crop and the average yield is an impressive seven tonnes per hectare, according to Nguyen Quang Ram, chairman of the Dinh Hoa People's Committee.
As recently as two years ago, the rural commune, with 63 per cent of its population belonging to the Khmer ethnic minority, had very poor infrastructure and low agricultural yields.
The turnaroundbegan when Dinh Hoa participated in a national programme to develop new rural areas in all communes nationwide until 2020.
Under this programme, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set a target of having 50 per cent of communes nationwide meeting 19 criteria, including transportation and irrigation facilities, housing development, poverty alleviation, as well as social and political stability.
After nearly two years of participating in the national programme, Dinh Hoa has achieved significant results, including the adopting of new farming production models and improved infrastructure.
After receiving training and applying new rice cultivation methods, local farmers have reduced production costs by 20 per cent and increased productivity by 300-400kg per ha, Ram said.
Last year, Dinh Hoa also built 25km of 16 new rural roads , 21km of irrigation projects, many concrete bridges and several schools.
The commune mobilised VND56 billion (US$2.8 million) for developing the programme, including VND11 billion through the contribution of local residents.
Dinh Hoa's success with the programme has been replicated by many communes and districts in the Cuu Long (Delta).
Vinh Long Province's Binh Tan District, for instance, has seen its residents' average income increase after it began implementing the national programme.
Nguyen Van Thuan, chairman of the Binh Tan People's Committee, said all communes were asked to focus on developing the district's strengths – agriculture and aquaculture.
Farmers in Binh Tan now earn an average income of VND130 million per ha compared to the national average of VND35 million per ha.
Visiting the Mekong Delta last week to review implementation of the programme, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Cao Duc Phat said he was glad to see the localities successfully focus on optimising their strengths.
He said they needed to develop more synchronously in the future. Besides developing production and improving livelihoods, the localities also need to pay attention to cultural activities, build a strong governing system, ensure social security and clean environments, he said.
Nguyen Van Diep, chairman of the Vinh Long People's Committee, said to get the best results out of the programme, all stakeholders would need to be strengthened.
The current difficulty in developing the programme was that there was a lack of mechanism and policies related to funding, Diep said.
The ministry would work with relevant ministries and other agencies to complete these mechanisms and policies, Phat said.