Rubber-growing project in the northwest needs a boost

Rubber plantation which started in the northwestern provinces in 2007 has helped to change the region’s economic structure.

Over the past three years, rubber plantations in Dien Bien, Son La, and Lai Chau have continued to thrive, creating more jobs for local people.

As the project is still in its early stage, the local authorities and the Vietnam Rubber Association (VRA) need to have a long-term cooperation.

New model to reduce poverty

To promote the rubber development plan in the northwestern region, central and local governments and the VRA have introduced a variety of policies to encourage farmers to use their land to plant rubber trees. In return, farmers are being employed by rubber companies and receive a stock dividend corresponding to their area of land and levels of production.

In addition, each province also has its own policies to help farmers and rubber companies.

The total rubber plantation areas in the northwestern region have been expanded to 15,000 ha and most of the rubber trees are growing very well, according to VRA member businesses.

There has been a very close cooperation between local party executives with the authorities, between central and local governments, and between localities and businesses.

The new working model for businesses and farmers proves to be both creative and effective with clear regulations about each party’s duties and responsibilities.

The plan has also created more jobs, helping farmers increase their incomes. In provinces like Lai Chau, Dien Bien, and Son La, along with relocation and resettlement for the Son La Hydroelectric Power project and other programmes, the rubber-developing plan has helped to reduce poverty and provide stable employment.

More support is needed

However, there still remain some shortcomings in the implementation of the project. The sudden change in the form of investment has put many Lai Chau businesses in difficult position to go through complicated administrative procedures and solve other problems arising from land acquisition and compensation too slowly. Furthermore, the incomes of rubber workers in Dien Bien and Son La provinces are very low so they do not want to get involved in the project.

In Son La, the unemployment rate is rising, resulting in a poorer standard of living. Lo Van Khat, a resident of Bo Muoi commune, says that his family has ten members but only one of them has a job. Farmers can hardly earn enough from growing rubber trees for their living as it normally takes seven years before they reap a profit, he added.

For this reason, many farmers in Dien Bien cut down their rubber trees. Lau A So, from Thanh Nua commune, Dien Bien district, said: “Local farmers support rubber growing, but we need more financial support and commitment from the State.”

On June 3, 2009, the Government issued Decision No.750 on drawing up a rubber development plan until 2015 with a vision to 2020. Under the plan, the area under rubber trees will be expanded to about 50,000 hectares in the north-western region by 2020. The key task for the region is to plant rubber trees while ensuring food security and reducing the poverty rate in a sustainable manner.

A conference was held in Dien Bien province on August 18 to review the results of the ongoing rubber growing project in the north-western region.

The conference, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong, was attended by representatives from several ministries, central agencies and local authorities in the region.

The participants in the event evaluated rubber growing projects in Son La, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Yen Bai, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Giang and Phu Tho provinces. They pointed out the shortcomings in many of these projects over the past three years and discussed more effective measures to boost economic restructuring and sustainable poverty reduction in the north-western region.

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