Vietnam farmers would no longer be disadvantaged
Updated: 7/23/2015 9:15:22 AM GMT + 7
A farmer in Sa Dec City, located in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, is pictured tending to her flower farm. Photo: Data
A farmer in Sa Dec City, located in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, is pictured tending to her flower farm. Photo: Data
That local farmers would thrive on their crops is a dream cherished by Nguyen Minh Thuy, 28, for Vietnam in 2035.

I was born and grew up in the countryside and my parents are hard-working farmers. The rustic lifestyle gave me sweet childhood memories. However, as a grown-up working in a city, I realize how underprivileged farmers are.

My parents, for instance, have their hands full working on the paddy fields and raising pigs and lead a frugal life. However, they had to take out loans to support their children’s university education.

Farmers just like my parents generally toil hard all their lives, but can hardly save enough for their old age. With no pension, they would lead uncomfortable lives without financial support from their children.

Farmers’ incomes are reliant not only on their own efforts but also the weather, the fluctuating market demand and much more. That has rendered their incomes unstable. During years with poor crops, they surely incur poverty and debts; but even bumper crops cannot always guarantee them a good year.

I expect that in 20 years, local farmers’ voices would be heard, and their produce would be consumed properly, ensuring them a more rewarding life.

If so, lychee growers in Hai Duong Province would no longer sell their sweet fruits at dirt-cheap prices.

Their counterparts in Nhat Tan would not have to ask people to buy their cherry blossom trees so that they would have some money to celebrate their Tet (Lunar New Year).

Growers of coffee, pepper, and cashews in the Central Highlands would no longer chop down thousands of hectares of such plants whenever their prices drop.

Similarly, farmers growing melons, sugar cane or dragon fruit would no longer shed tears in their paddy fields during harvest time as their produce sells poorly.

I hope that in the next 20 years, farmers would be protected by their own associations, who would stand up for them in disputes or lawsuits and provide them with proper guidance when disruptive forces show up.

By then, farmers would enjoy a rewarding life just as other social classes do, and their children would be entitled to spiritual and material comforts just like city kids.

They would hopefully enjoy a special insurance system, so that when they get older, they would no longer toil hard on the paddies without sufficiently feeding themselves.

To make this dream come true, in my opinion, these things should be done:

First, modern rural infrastructure must be constructed to provide a solid foundation for economic and social growth in rural areas.

Second, farmers’ expertise, knowledge and skills should be improved. The majority of local farmers now remain less educated than the society’s average level. They are usually the last ones in society to gain access to information. Courses should be organized to improve their abilities to grasp information and acquaint themselves with various information channels.

Insufficiently armed with knowledge and laden with hardship, farmers tend to be gullible and swayed by profits, which make them easy prey for disruptive forces scheming to sabotage our agriculture. Adequate information would help them detect these plots and make sound decisions.

Thirdly, the government should issue specific and prudent policies in launching sustainable economic models for farmers.

It takes meticulous calculation and proper zoning of farmers and produce by relevant authorities to ensure farmers good outlets and prices.

Caution should be taken to avoid situations in which relevant agencies encourage farmers to adopt models which have proved efficient on an unreasonably large scale. Mass production could make it difficult for farmers to sell their produce, leaving them to once again struggle on their own.

Fourthly, farmers should be entitled to price subsidy policies. The requirement that produce prices remain stable over several years verges on the impossible. Such policies would help keep farmers from constantly shifting from one production model to another due to hefty losses.

Fifthly, it’s advisable that farmers benefit from more welfare policies, including cheaper insurance payments compared to other social classes.

The State apparatus remains bulky with a large number of civil servants who hardly work at all yet receive monthly salaries and are eligible for pension upon their retirement.

Meanwhile, farmers who toil hard all their life still struggle to make ends meet with almost no social welfare.

Lastly, the government should have better control over rural socialization programs. Apart from benefits, movements to improve rural life have shown unsound support for the socialization task, which sometimes is an excuse for local authorities to collect monetary contributions from locals. Farmers, who are already in destitution, have to pay almost obligatory sums to the local authorities.


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