From the second half of the 1980s ~ the period when the Renovation process began to now, our country’s agricultural sector has made many achievements. The most brilliant achievement is that the agricultural sector not only becomes an important export sector but also contributes to stabilising the macro-economy, creating a foundation for the Vietnamese economy to develop more firmly. Rural areas have changed fundamentally, the gap between rural and urban areas has been narrowed. The agricultural sector and rural economy contribute to social stability, protect natural resources and the environment, mitigate natural disasters and maintain national security.
However, we also have to look directly at the fact that from 2008 to now, although the fifth and sixth Plenum of the Party Central Committee pointed out many shortcomings in agricultural development, they are still to be fixed. Although the resolutions of the Party Central Committee have set major targets such as building newstyle rural areas and restructuring agriculture, there has not been any specific project focusing on promoting the role of farmers. Resolution No 26, issued in 2008, on agriculture-farmer-rural area identified farmers as the subject of the development process, but in reality, the role of farmers has not been promoted as expected.
Typical weaknesses include growth is unsustainable, application of science and technology is poor, human resources have not been developed as expected and the main production force is still small households. Along with that, the non-agricultural economic structure in rural areas is still changing slowly, the environment is still polluted and responding to natural disasters still has many challenges. Recently, people talk about multivalue agriculture, sustainable agriculture, organic agriculture and high-tech agriculture but I think we should focus on promoting the role of farmers first.
It is necessary to change the thinking on the issue of “agriculture-farmer rural areas” because it is not only a pillar and shield for sustainable development but also an economic driving force to promote the country’s advantages. If agriculture is identified as the main advantage of the country, other entities must rely on that advantage to develop. All issues from materials, machinery, capital, technology, human resources and logistics must be prioritised for agricultural development. So, the agricultural sector can promote its advantageous role for other industries to rely on.
We should put farmers first, consider farmers as the root and the subject of the development process so that they can control the process of mastering both agriculture and rural areas. Farmers must be the ones who manage, decide and provide public services related to agriculture. Next, cooperatives and the Farmers’ Associations must be renewed. We can see that the role of Farmers’ Associations or cooperatives is still quite one-way, they are policy advocacy and beneficiary units, but they do not have much decision-making power on the economy. In many countries such as South Korea and Japan, the organisations play a very good role in the community, they even have their own financial institutions such as banks to give members preferential loans for farming. They actively control input materials and importantly, control the consumption of agricultural products.