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Breakthrough in new-style rural area construction, turning mounds and hills into eco-agriculture
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Over five years of the implementation of new-style rural construction program, Soc Son District (Hanoi City) has formed large-scale production areas, made a breakthrough in building new-style rural areas, successfully turned things around making disadvantages of mounds and hills become distinct advantages that help local farmers improve their income and life.

Breakthrough in grouping farmland

According to the report of Soc Son District, the district used to be an underdog in the process of building new-style rural areas, especially at the beginning. Back then, most of the communes only satisfied a few criteria out of 19 criteria of new-style rural areas. More specifically, among 25 communes of the district, there were only 7 communes meeting 5 to 10 criteria, 18 communes meeting less than 5 criteria, and particularly 3 communes meeting no criteria.  
Applying VietGAP-driven safe tea production model, many farmers in Bac Son Commune, Soc Son District cooperate to set up a brand known as “Bac Son Clean Tea”. Photo by Thu Ha. 

Furthermore, Soc Son’s landform was quite disadvantageous with large area of mounds and hills, and many mixed gardens. Changing from old economic model composing of poor-performance paddy fields, mixed plant hills to specialized production models was indispensable. Farmland was positioned scatteredly, many farm households used to administrate up to 10 fields but each of them located in a different place with really small area.

The local farming value at that time only reached 75.3 million dong/ha, per capita income was just 18 million dong/ year. For that reason, Soc Son authority began to group farmland so as to clear the biggest obstacle to developing agricultural economy.

As for the grouping of land, Le Huu Manh, Vice Chairman of Soc Son District People’s Committee stated that it was carried out positively and actively, it even became a movement among local people. Till the end of 2016, 121 hamlets and villages in the district had its farmland grouped with the total area of more than 10,845 ha, and the work involved 31,924 households with 94,119 fields in total. 

After the grouping, each farm household currently has a big enough field for farming, the district has more 965 ha to add to its public land resources which are used for welfare construction, public infrastructure. The local collective economy is also spotted with significant growth, crop and livestock restructuring goes positively. At the present, Soc Son owns five brands of farm products generating 350-400 million dong/ha in income, such as Soc Son Organic Vegetables, Bac Son Safe Tea, etc. As a result, average income is improved considerably, from 18 million dong per year (2010) to 29.8 million dong per year (2015) and 35 million dong per year (2016).

Eco urban-driven agricultural development

According to Soc Son District Party Committee Secretary’s assessment, till now, it’s not much to say that the new-style rural area construction program gave the district a complete makeover with numerous positive results. However, on the other hand, the region hasn’t been able to set up more focal production areas; application of hi-tech’s only been conducted at some pilot models; and the life of local people at some remote communes remains many hardships.

Therefore, from this point to 2020, the district needs to develop eco urban-driven agriculture so as to produce several products that are high in quality, competitive and guarantee food safety, per Soc Son District Party Committee Secretary The regional agro-economic development index is target to be 2.5-3% per year. In order to reach this target, the district will introduce new specialized policies to encourage enterprises to invest in farming, connect relevant parties to form production chains, build modern infrastructure for the community and economy, develop hi-tech and safe agriculture along with industry and handicraft, etc. 
Till the end of 2017, Soc Son District reported to have 18 out of 25 communes recognized as new-style rural areas. The guideline of district from then was to continue to build and develop new-style rural areas as planned; remain and improve all criteria in quality; and attempt to have all 25 communes in the districts recognized as new-style rural areas before the year of 2020.

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