New farming models set for Mekong Delta

HCM CITY (VNS)— The Ministry of Planning and Investment and local governments in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta plan to set up three new co-operative models for farming fruits, tra fish, and rice.

One of the tasks under a project to improve the condition of local people, it will be carried out in two phases in Can Tho city and the delta’s 12 provinces.

The first phase, which began in July and will end in October, involves appraising the Delta’s collective economy and functioning of existing co-operatives and proposing new co-operative models for the region’s three key products.

The second phase, to go on until July 2016, will see implementation of the new models.

The delta’s individual economy has developed well and the region has designated special areas for growing rice and fruits and aquaculture, according to the ministry.

But people are still poor and do not have stable incomes because they do not have stable markets for their products.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong blamed this on individual farmers failing to co-operate.

Besides, no organisation has come forward to instruct farmers in effective production methods, he said.

The 2012 Co-operative Law offers a suitable model for fixing these problems by providing members of co-operative inputs at low prices, production techniques and technologies, and guaranteed outlets, he added.

Can Tho and the 12 provinces have 1,300 co-operatives with 23,260 members and 45,000 co-operative teams, according to the Southwestern Region Steering Committee.

Full-fledged co-operatives should have at least seven members while those with at least three are considered co-operative teams.

Only 2-5 per cent of farmers in the Delta are members of co-operatives, with the main hurdles to membership being low education standards and poor management of the co-operatives, local authorities said.

Huynh Chi Nguyen, deputy director of the Hau Giang Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said most of the province’s 106 co-operatives are small and have difficulty in finding regular outlets for their produce.

Besides suitable mechanisms and policies, human resources are also a key aspect in developing co-operatives, he said.

Ngo Hong Chieu, deputy director of the Dong Thap Province Department of Planning and Development, said people with money and education prefer to set up their own companies and rather than join co-operatives.

Of the province’s 200 co-operatives, only a few have chairpersons with a university degree, he pointed out.

Most co-operatives offer basic services like pumping water and supplying breedstock and seeds.

It is difficult for them to attract members since most cannot find stable markets for their produce, he reiterated.

Nguyen Quoc Hai, chairman of the Can Tho City Cooperative Alliance, said problems related to policies, funding, and human resources and a lack of successful model. — VNS