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Developing new generation farmers in agricultural restructuring and new rural construction
18/12/2018 10:39' Send Print
Illustration photo. Photo: VNA

Modeling Vietnamese farmers - from theory to practice

President Ho Chi Minh brought our people, of which "the peasants are a great force of the nation, a very loyal ally of the working class" (1) to the stature as the root, the masters of the nation’s destiny. He pointed out that “to successfully carry out resistance war and national construction” (2), "it is a must to rely on farmers," "nurture their strength" and "they must have land for production, enough food to eat, clothing, and housing." (3)

The issues of agriculture, farmers and rural areas are of strategically importance in the development of the country under the leadership of the Party and must be resolved in a synchronized manner in accordance with the socialist-oriented market economy. One of Vietnam's resources is agriculture, where farmers are an important revolutionary force. It is therefore necessary to train and help them acquire production level equal to regional level and to build the peasant class, and consolidate the worker-peasant-intellectual alliance which is strong and full of political stuff as masters of the new rural areas, build new rural areas with increasingly modern socio-economic infrastructure, suitable economic structure and forms of production organization and improved material and spiritual life, democratic and equitable life. Developing agriculture, farmers and rural areas is the task of the entire political system and society, in which the farmers are the subjects and the Vietnam Farmers’ Union plays the central and core role.

The Party and State have issued many guidelines, policies and national target programs, especially the National Target Program on Building New Rural Areas and the National Target Program on Sustainable Poverty Reduction, supporting farmers, cooperatives, creating favorable conditions for enterprises to invest in agricultural development, rural economic development, new rural area building, helping farmer households become autonomous economic units and allotting land to farmers for stable and long-term use with five rights (rights to change, inherit, use as collateral, lease, and transfer). Since then, Vietnam has become one of the world's leading exporters of agricultural products, gaining US$36.2 billion in 2017. Agriculture has become the only sector with trade surplus. The farmer’s emulation movement in production and business, building new rural areas, mutual support and solidarity to enrich and reduce poverty has been launched, attracting more than 6.2 million households. Approximately 3.55 million farmer households have won the title "Good Farmers in Production and Business," building farmers’ confidence and the will to escape poverty.

Noble virtues, namely patriotism, humanism, altruism, friendliness, tolerance, good neighborhood, solidarity, love, mutual help, bravery, resilience, undauntedness, ingeniousness, creativeness, industriousness, diligence of farmers and peasantry have always been maintained and promoted in the process of industrialization of agriculture, and modernization of rural areas today.

By June 2018, farmers’ unions at all levels have a membership of 10,207,929, accounting for 80% of the total members of farmer households; 70% of head of the farmer households are members of farmers’ union cells or groups, in population areas by lines of business. They also established 1,135 cooperatives and 101,000 cooperatives; positively innovated communication contents, methods and mobilization, creating attraction and trust for their unions.

However, there remain limitations and shortcomings in building the model of Vietnamese farmers in the past time which need to be overcome.

In terms of theoretical and practical aspects, the study and concretization of the Party's leadership and mobilization towards the peasantry for effective implementation of Resolution No. 26-NQ/TW, dated 5 August 2008 of the 10th Party Central Committee On Agriculture, Farmers and Rural Areas with a view to promote the role of the peasantry, the central and core role of the Vietnam Farmers’ Union in the socialist-oriented market economy and international integration have not yet fully focused on review to clarify, especially to strengthen social foundation, the close relationship between the Party and the peasantry through farmers' unions and cooperatives.

Little has been done in allocating land, collecting land use fees and leasing land through bidding for land use right. Direct land allocation and lease have been common practices. There have been frictions between prohibition of use right of land beyond the regulated limit with the need to accumulate land of farmers. Agricultural economic growth has not been linked to the efficient exploitation and use of resources (according to a survey by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the degraded land area is 1.3 million hectares, accounting for 4% of the land area, "problematic" land area goes up to 10 million hectares, accounting for 31% of which over 846.000 hectares are agricultural land and directly related to a large group of farmers).

Conflicts arise which include those between the increasing demands of agricultural production to improve productivity, quality, value, safety with limited education level, knowledge, agricultural cultivation skills of a section of cadres, most of whom are farmers, between the need to increase economic benefits and constraints in determining the agricultural structure of each region and each household which is mostly small production to increase the value of agricultural production, between farmers and other stakeholders in distribution of benefits because most farmers have not remarkably improved economic value in subsequent stages of production, between requirements for green and sustainable development with negative phenomena in industrialization, modernization and urbanization; between the need to boost production with complex and adverse climate change, and the need to protect agricultural resources and ecological environment.

Many cultural values and ethical traditions of people in rural areas have been degraded; a part of the cadres and peasants have become corrupted because of their pragmatic way of living, good neighborhood in villages and open and peaceful environment in rural areas have no longer been as before; humanism and tolerance have faded and replaced by increasingly close-knit and selfish way of living. It is urgent to step up socio-economic planning, preserve and protect the positive elements of the village community in Vietnam.

The 2016 General Survey on Rural Areas, Agriculture and Fishery showed that out of 31,016,720 people in working age in rural areas, 65.86% received no training, 18.27% got training but had no certificates, only 4.74% got training and certificates. Quality and qualifications of rural workers are very low and constitute a barrier to improve labor productivity while there is little support from administrations, farmers’ unions and cooperatives to improve farmers’ knowledge on agriculture, policy and law.

Orientation and profile of new generation farmers

Orientation to build new generation farmers

Strive to build and form a new generation of farmers who develop comprehensively, step by step improving their personality, morality, intelligence, creativeness and skills in hi-tech agriculture, physical fitness, state of mind, national pride and respect in the process of international integration.

Perfect regulations, processes, institutions, legal documents and cultural institutions in rural community, promote traditional cultural values of the nation in the period of accelerating industrialization and modernization, facilitating the building of a new generation of farmers who bring into full play the role of subjects in restructuring the agricultural sector and building new rural areas.

Define criteria and profile of new generation farmers in line with the period of accelerating industrialization and modernization, developing the socialist-oriented market economy and international integration.

Basic virtues of new generation farmers in the process of restructuring agriculture and developing new rural.

First, patriotism, sense of ownership, civic responsibility.

Affection and patriotism of the Vietnamese people of which the majority is farmers came about very early in their relation with the nature through creative labor and in relation with society by the will of independence and freedom. They become the primary and most important values which govern the entire value system of the Vietnamese nation.

At the first meeting of the Research Committee for National Construction on 10 January 1946, President Ho Chi Minh affirmed: "People only understand fully the value of freedom, and independence when people are well fed, and well dressed."(4)

Generations of the Vietnamese people, including the peasantry, have always regarded patriotism with the core and prominent values of independence, and freedom their ethical norms, lifestyle and divine beauty. Thus, affection and patriotism are always the most noble moral values pursued, preserved and promoted by each Vietnamese. They are closely associated with guidelines on national establishment and orientation to take people as the root and rely on the people in national construction and defense, internal unity, friendship with foreign countries to create synergy for the cause of building and defending the country.

Patriotism includes the spirit of independence, self-reliance, heroism, undauntedness, sense of community, social progress, aspiration for freedom, selflessness, without narrow nationalism and non-respect for other peoples, tolerance and respect for friendliness to protect national independence, freedom and dignity. It is necessary to combine the national strength with that of the times, win the support of international friends to build a strong and prosperous country.

Second, preservation and promotion the tradition of national unity, cooperation and mutual help.

According to President Ho Chi Minh, the great unity is of strategic and vital significance of the Vietnamese people, the principle of behavior for all generations of the Vietnamese people and one of the decisive factors of the victory of the Vietnamese revolution.

The overall goal of our people is to strive for a prosperous people, a strong country, democracy, equity and civilization. The specific objectives of the peasantry are to accelerate agricultural industrialization, rural modernization and intellectualization of farmers so that our country’s urban and rural areas, industry and agriculture, workers and farmers develop vigorously.

Implementing objective set by the Party, the peasantry and each farmer must strengthen solidarity and cooperation, participate in building agricultural cooperatives, organize production according to value chain, maintain the close worker-farmer-intellectual alliance, attach importance to linking with domestic and foreign enterprises from production to consumption in order to improve productivity, quality and value of agricultural products. Take care, build and promote cultural values of solidarity while enhancing education and mobilization of farmers to renounce small-scale, fragmented, and individual production, conservatism, localism, factionism, respect for man and disrespect for woman, and narrow-mindedness.

Third, advanced education level and science and technical knowledge.

The 12th Congress of the Party set out the tasks of accelerating industrialization, modernization and international integration in association with developing a knowledge economy, taking science, technology, knowledge and high quality human resources crucial driving force; attaching importance to industrialization and modernization and rapid and sustainable development of agriculture and rural areas; building a large-scale commodity production and high-tech agriculture, improving products’ quality and value, promoting the role as subjects of farmer households and household economy, the nucleus role of enterprises and cooperatives, the central and core role of the Vietnam Farmer's Union.

To realize these guidelines of the Party, it is necessary to push up training and job training of cadres and members of the farmers’ unions and farmers, so that they acquire education and farming skills, can join the market and work in an environment of international integration. Farmers' Unions at all levels and sectors must collaborate with levels and sectors to support and encourage farmers to learn and apply science and technology to agricultural production and processing of agricultural products.

Fourth, preservation and promotion of cultural values, diligence, creativeness, affection, patience and resilience.

The Vietnamese people have harmoniously combined the three favorable conditions of "time, space, and people’s support" in building and defending the country while demonstrating their diligence and thrift, creative labor and efficiency. Diligence and creative labor are culture ethical value of the nation, and the peasantry. Industriousness, thrift, integrity, righteousness are always traditional cultural values honored by farmers and the whole people of Vietnam. They have always created values prompted by national history, civilization, ideas in respect for agriculture and farmers, national construction and defense, language and literature and art, freedom of religion and religion and non-religion unity, winning strong enemy by weaker strength, “Persistent in objectives, flexible in strategies and tactics,” and solidarity which have constituted the identity of the Vietnamese people, and which must be promoted by new generation farmers in realizing the national targets on building rural areas and restructuring the agricultural sector.

The glorious history of building and defending the country has tempered patriotism, unity, diligence, creativity and become the force that has motivated our people with the farmers as the core force to rise up and struggle for independence, and freedom. In the thought of the Vietnamese people with farmers as the main force, national salvation is of greatest significance and the greatest ethical principle because they think “if the country is lost, families and homes will be destroyed.” The principle is most captivating for Vietnam’s people.

To realize industrialization and modernization of agriculture and construction of new rural areas in the context of developing the socialist-oriented market economy and international integration, the Vietnamese peasantry and each farmer must preserve and promote the good virtues of righteousness, patience and resilience of the nation to improve productivity, quality, value of agricultural products for community health and increase income for farmer households. At the same time, the peasantry and each farmer must firmly prevent defects of the market economy, the way of thinking and lifestyle for material interests of bourgeois culture, settle harmoniously interests and avert conflict between the cultural values of the Vietnamese community.

Major solutions for building new generation farmers

First, it is the responsibility of the whole political system under the leadership of the Party, in which the Vietnam Farmers’ Union plays a central and core role to implement the tasks of building new generation farmers. The Farmers’ Union at all levels must proactively and actively participate in and coordinate closely with administrations at all levels to formulate mechanisms and policies to develop high quality agricultural and rural human resources by stepping up vocational training for farmers.

Second, focus on communication and mobilization of state-owned enterprises to restructure the agricultural sector and develop the rural economy, linking agricultural production units and outstanding farmers with farmers’ households to unleash production force in rural areas through a strong shift in agriculture towards processing industry and trade and services. The combination of the agro-food industry with distribution services, logistics and other services will generate jobs and better livelihood for farmers.

Third, mobilize and support farmers to build cooperatives and cooperative groups to strengthen the capacity of linking "six elements" (farmers, state, scientists, entrepreneurs, banks, distributors), improve competitiveness and income of farmer households. Farmers' Unions at all levels have implemented Resolution No.32/NQ-QH14 of the National Assembly, Decision No. 461/QD-TTg, dated 27 April 2018 of the Prime Minister and Decree No. 98/2018/ ND-CP, dated 5 July 2018 of the Government, on policies to encourage the development of cooperatives and linkage of production with consumption of agricultural products to improve people's life.

Fourth, strengthen the central and core role of the Farmers' Union, build a strong peasantry and Vietnam Farmers’' Union members who develop comprehensively, possess national cultural stuff and skills to join the market, are self-reliant and proactive in high-tech agricultural production, equipped with knowledge of law on land and understand the value of land use rights for land concentration to take advantage of scale and reduce costs in the value chain.

Fifth, continue to strengthen international relations and cooperation, take advantage of partnerships for investment and development in agriculture in Vietnam, create conditions for Vietnamese farmers to study, introduce and transfer industrial products of advanced countries to Vietnamese farmers, and contribute to building a model of new generation farmers.

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(1), (2) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, the National Political Publishing House - Truth, Hanoi, 2011, Vol. 6, p. 248

(3) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, Id, Vol. 8, p. 42

(4) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, Id, Vol. 4, p. 175

This article was published in the Communist Review No. 912 (October 2018)

Thao Xuan Sung, PhD, member of the Party Central CommitteeSecretary of the Party Caucus and President of the Vietnam Farmers’ Union