Illustration Image. Source: Internet
Proper awareness of the role of
farmers is a basis, on the one hand, for encouraging farmers to actively
participate in economic, political, cultural, social activities; on the
other hand, for finding solutions to continue upholding that role,
contributing to early achieve the set goals.
Vietnam with its natural conditions has early possessed wet rice civilization. Over millions of years, the Vietnamese farmers have been growing strongly, constituting the most populous social forces (1), making great contributions to the struggle for nation defense and construction and conservation of the country's civilization and culture.
Since its coming into being and during the revolution, the Communist Party of Vietnam has always appreciated the role of farmers, considering the worker-farmer alliance and the worker-farmer-intellectual alliance the foundation and premise for every victory of the revolution, the struggle for national liberation, construction and defense of the Fatherland. President Ho Chi Minh said in such a backward agricultural country like Vietnam, the national problem was essentially the problem of farmers; the national revolution was essentially the revolution of farmers led by the working class. Experience of the Communist Party of Vietnam during the revolution process has shown that when and where farmers’ interests are ensured, and principles of the class alliance are fully grasped, the revolution is strong and successful.
To shift from a country with small production, backwardness, low labor productivity to large-scale production with modern means of production and high labor productivity industrialization and modernization are essential. Vietnam as a backward agricultural country with low starting point needs to begin with agriculture, farmers and rural areas. This is the universal roadmap and rule of development of many countries.
At the 8th National Congress, the Communist Party of Vietnam affirmed to attach special importance to industrialization and modernization of agriculture and rural areas. The 7th Plenum, 10th Tenure emphasized that agriculture, farmers and rural areas had a strategic position in the cause of industrialization and modernization, national construction and defense, constituting the basis and crucial force for sustainable socio-economic development, political stability, security and defense, national identity preservation and promotion and ecological environment protection.
Thus, it can be seen that the Communist Party of Vietnam is always fully aware of and attaches great importance to the role of the farmers in the revolution from the first day of the national democratic revolution to the socialist revolution later. The renewal process under the leadership of the Party, to some extent, originated from the creativity of the farmers in practice. Since the country conducted development of the new-type rural areas, agricultural modernization and rural development, the issue of the role of the peasantry has been better aware of by the Party. The question now is how to help farmers to uphold their role. First of all, it should be said that the peasantry is the subject of industrialization and modernization and development of agriculture and new-type countryside in Vietnam at present.
The central task of the Vietnamese revolution at the present stage is to accelerate industrialization and modernization of agriculture, and building new-type, beautiful, equitable, democratic and civilized rural areas with suitable economic structure, progressive and appropriative production relations and more modern socio-economic infrastructure. To achieve that goal, we need to view the role of the peasantry as the subject of that process on a number of the following aspects:
First, farmers are important human resources in agriculture development and building of new-type rural areas.
In the economy of Vietnam, farmers have always been associated with the field, cultivable land; are abundant and important human resources decisive to the success of building new-type rural areas. In recent years, thanks to the application of scientific and technical advances, farmers have turned out more agricultural products of high quality, better meeting the needs of domestic consumption and export. Thereby, their incomes have increased; they have had material accumulation; their lives have been stabilized, bringing about changes in rural areas and creating a basis for agriculture restructuring.
On the other hand, in agricultural development and building of new-type rural areas farmers are tremendous forces in economic restructuring of agriculture, striving to build a rational economic structure in the direction of land accumulation and application of high technology in agricultural production; building new-type cooperatives, large field acreage, large-scale farms; interest harmonizing interests of "four" stakeholders: entrepreneurs, scientists, farmers and the State; making policies to encourage rural youth startups. Ensure the advancement to large-scale production, maintain farmer’s land use rights in large fields, new-type cooperative, collective farms, joint stock production and service companies in rural areas, and strongly develop industry and provide services for production, business and new life of farmers in rural areas. Farmers are the major labor force in the field of agricultural production and a regular source of labor workforce for industry and services. Therefore, we can say, the process of strengthening the alliance between workers peasants with intellectuals helps farmers promote their role as the subject in industrialization and modernization of agriculture and rural areas.
In the building of new-type rural areas in recent years, vocational training for rural workers has received much attention and has achieved initial results. By the end of 2015, about 2.42 million people received vocational training of which about 1.02 million were trained in agriculture and 1.4 million received non-agricultural vocational training. Approximately 60,000 poor households had their members undergo vocational training hence they got rid of poverty; nearly 100,000 of them had jobs with incomes higher than the average incomes of their localities (becoming better off).
Second, farmers contribute significantly to socio-economic stability in the process of agricultural development, and building new-type rural areas.
The State has paid attention to implementation and assurance of social welfare policies to help farmers stabilize their life and uphold their role. When rural economy is developing farmers would improve their life both materially and spiritually, so they can better show their role as the subject. Farmers are the one who decides the speed and efficiency of production restructuring, because without farmers’ active participation the policy of economic restructuring cannot be implemented. It is possible to say that the State’s focus on agricultural and rural area development is to facilitate farmers to bring up their role as the subject. Farmers are the labor force who directly produce food and foodstuff for the society.
In reality, to develop production and increase income for farmers, most communes are developing production projects in the direction of commodity production based on their comparative advantages. The implementation is carried out by building models and support replication. To date, the country boats 22,500 models of agricultural, forestry, and fishery production. Many localities, such as Thai Binh, Ha Nam, Nam Dinh, Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa carried out "merging and exchanging fields," redesigned irrigation and internal transport system in anticipation of mechanization of production. Farmers in many provinces such as Thai Binh, Ha Tinh, An Giang, Hau Giang, Dong Thap are assisted to procure tractors, threshing machines and dryers and thus the rate of mechanization of these production stages increased from 40% - 50% to 80% - 90% respectively.
Many places have completed production organization. Beside strengthening activities of agricultural cooperatives, the "big field" model has been applied in 43 provinces. To date, about 556,000 hectares with 2,500 cooperatives are operating after the "big field" model. Many models of production chain in livestock breeding, aquaculture and forestry, production teams in fishery have been set up and operated effectively.
Thanks to the above activities, by September 2016, 58.9% of communes achieved their targets on income; 88.2% of communes met the target on employment. Poverty rate in rural areas decreased from 17.4% in 2010 to about 8.2% (an average yearly decrease of 1.84%). Poverty rate in poor districts decreased from 50.07% in late 2011 to 32.59 % by the end of 2014 (an average annual decrease of 5%). 50.4% of communes fulfilled the 11 target on poor households. Communes which achieved new rural standards and norms boast an average income of 28.4 million dong, and poverty rate of 3.6% as compared with 16 million dong and 11.6% at the time when they started the Program.
Third, farmers are the subject of the building of new-type rural areas
Farmers have upheld their role as the subject in agricultural development and new-type rural area building, bridging the gap in living standards between urban and rural areas, and reducing the number of poor household in rural areas. The objectives are to build prosperous, equitable, democratic and civilized rural areas, address social issues such as narrowing the gap between rich and poor in rural areas, between urban and rural areas, creating jobs, protecting environment, and preserving cultural identity. It means that during the process of agricultural and rural area development, farmers must bring ingto play their role in both contribution and enjoyment of the fruits of socio-economic development to become the real subject of rural development.
Fourth, farmers directly build, contribute, maintain, preserve and operate rural infrastructure.
It is essential for new-type rural areas to have access to electricity, roads, schools, health stations, and irrigation. These facilities must be built by farmers and the State. Of them building concrete and asphalt roads connecting villages and hamlets is one of the contents in building new-type rural areas. This can only early achieved when farmers are fully aware of the importance of those works in the socio-economic development, voluntarily make contribution beside the State and local levels’ assistance. Construction is difficult; however, it is more difficult to protect and refurbish these systems; the operation, maintenance and protection of rural infrastructure must be done by farmers themselves. Farmers need to update their knowledge, understanding and consciously maintain rural infrastructure for their own interests.
Over the past years, many people have voluntarily contributed land and fund to build schools, health centers, power stations, bridges, local roads and offer seeds, plants, capital, materials, and experience to difficult farmer households, helping them to get out of poverty and become better off. We can say, after 5 years of implementation of the Program on building new-type rural areas the most outstanding achievement was the development of infrastructure systems which did not only create favorable conditions for socio-economic development, but also directly increased people’s enjoyment. Many localities spent 70% - 75% of the fund for building new-type rural areas on building infrastructure. So did people’s contribution.
By now, 47,436 km of road of different types have been constructed; 103,394km of road have been renovated or repaired; 26,997 bridges have been newly built or repaired; 50,246km of canals have been solidified; more than 28,765 irrigation works including embankments, sluices, pumping stations for irrigation and 6,070km dykes and embankments under commune management have been improved; schools at all levels in communes, particularly kindergartens and boarding schools have been built, basically meeting the requirements of teaching and learning; 4,998 communes have cultural and sports centers, 30% of which meet the standards set by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; 54,391 out of 118,034 villages and hamlets (46%) have cultural houses, 47% of which reach standards; 5,177 communes (61.6%) achieve the criteria of rural markets; most of the communes have health stations.
Fifth, farmers directly contribute and realize Party lines and State laws and policies on building new-type rural areas.
Elements pertaining to leadership, management such as Party lines, State laws and policy are very important for planning contents and roadmap and achievement of agricultural and rural development, and new-type rural areas. However, farmers have an important role in turning Party lines and State laws and policies on agriculture, rural areas, and building new-type rural areas into reality. Subsequent Party resolutions on building, developing socialist-oriented market economy have encouraged farmers to actively participate in national construction. Household economy is recognized and has continually grown. Workers’ interests have been respected and guaranteed, becoming the most powerful motivation for farmers to invest in intensive farming and crop multiplication, and improve productivity and product quality. Farmers’ active and proactive role has been brought into play in production and created important changes in labor productivity and socio-economic efficiency.
Opinions of farmers must be collected to help develop lines and policies because farmers can make useful contribution and experience gained from their daily life to leaders and managers. Once lines and policies are adopted, it is necessary to disseminate and carry out policy advocacy for farmers to understand and see the benefits, helping them to voluntarily implement these policies and lines.
The Party can only exercise its leadership when "Party lines conform to people's opinions," and people enthusiastically respond. President Ho Chi Minh often said without people, it is not possible to complete a job though it may be a hundred times easier; With people’s support, a job can be done though it is tens of thousands of times more difficult. When people provide better support, we will win more and vice versa. Without people’s support we will fail. In planning new rural area development we must consult farmers, make plans in such a way that new-type rural areas inherit national traditions while assimilating modern elements and being convenient for farmers’ life and production.
Sixth, farmers directly involve in building the Party, administration and social political organizations.
There is a need to disseminate, mobilize and raise awareness of farmers so that they strive to become party members, increasing the number of party members in rural areas. Farmers must actively contribute comments and opinions to party committees, administrations and social, political organizations where they reside, actively participate in the fight against corruption and negative phenomena to make the party clean and strong. Farmers must actively contribute ideas in the process of building Party lines, State laws and policies, especially in matters directly relating to agriculture, farmers and rural areas, making them fit conditions of Vietnam and each locality and meet the needs, aspirations and legitimate interests of farmers.
Farmers must actively participate in building strong administration of each village, each commune and always uphold "national discipline", strictly abide by “law and order” and exercising democracy. Farmers are not only builders but also defenders of administration and the State. Currently, hostile forces are resorting to all means to divide ethnics, religions, and the State and the people. They find ways to incite, distort the truth, exaggerate contradictions and differences between the interests of farmers and other strata of society to cause social instability. Farmers need to be aware of this wicked scheme, calmly resolve contradictions by way of dialogue, and avoid getting excited and following hostile forces.
Over the past years, many grassroots party organizations in rural areas have practically serve as the core in leading the implementation of building new-type rural areas. Party congresses at all levels paid attention to and highly appreciated the impact of new-type rural areas construction, considering it a key task of party organizations in this term. Thus, the prestige of the party organizations has been increasingly high. Through these practices, commune staff has grown faster; their copacity, responsibility, sense of responsibility and mobilization skills are improved. The training and retraining of local cadres were given much attention to; many places have rotated cadres to communes. Young intellectuals have been sent to poor communes and especially difficult communes in ethnic minority and mountainous areas to work as chairpersons. The coordination between the Party, government, socio-political organizations in directing the implementation of the Program of Building of New-type Rural Areas is increasingly specific and effective. 72.4% of communes have reached the criterion of socio-political organization system.
Seventh, farmers are the subject to build cultural and spiritual life, rural landscape and environment.
The spiritual and cultural life in rural areas include spiritual activities of rural residents, mainly farmers, including: customs, habits, lifestyle, relationship, behavior, ways of thinking, art and literature activities. Relations between farmers is intimate for mutual assistance, mutual respect, close relationship of "neighbors". These relations must be preserved, protected and promoted to help each other in socio-economic development, and building cultural village.
Preserving cultural values are an asset in building rural areas, aiming at cultural and spiritual life. Farmers must be encouraged to restore and preserve cultural values, such as festivals, traditional artistic activities, poetry, chantees. These activities must be well managed to avoid superstition or profiteering, abuse or insecurity. The Movement "All people unite to build cultural life in residential areas" continues to be enhanced in terms of quality. It has stirred up solidarity among people of all walks of life to join efforts in economic development, and building new-type rural areas. About 66.7% of communes have achieved cultural criteria and approximately 40.8 million people participated in cultural activities, literature and arts, sports, club activities in rural areas (27% of people in delta provinces and 11% in the mountainous regions regularly do physical exercise and sports).
As far as rural landscape and environment are concerned, more than 1,000 concentrated clean water projects, 500 waste collection sites, 1,200 sewage systems were built. By 2015, 86% of rural population had access to clean water, of which 45% have access to clean water that meet hygiene criteria specified the the Vietnamese Ministry of Health in its Vietnamese Norm 02/2009/BYT; about 65% of latrines met hygiene standards; 93% of preschool, secondary schools were built and 95% of commune health centers had clean water (2).
Eighth, farmers are the subject to maintain security and social order in rural areas.
Maintaining security, law and order in rural areas and ensure peaceful life for farmers are important contents in building new-type rural areas of Vietnam. To maintain peaceful atmosphere in the countryside, to promote the positive side, limit the negative side, each family should pay attention to care for children, educate ethics and traditions, combat unhealthy way of life and pragmatism which do not conform to traditions and local customs and habits. Rural areas need to step up coordination to together preserve and protect property, security and order in each locality.
In recent years, efforts have been made to policy dissemination and advocacy, mobilizing people to implement criteria of security and social order in the national criteria for new-type rural areas, participate actively in the movement "All people protect national security, build and multiply security self-management models for security and order, like "Farmers with the law," "Peaceful religious village," "Lineage without criminal and social evils.” Link the movement "All people protect national security" with the movement "The entire country joins hand to build new-type rural areas" and the campaign "All people united to build cultural life in residential areas." Pay attention to development and consolidation of the task force to ensure security and order in rural areas.
Promote the synergy of the whole political system, timely capture people’s thinking, feelings and aspirations; step up communication, education, and mobilization of people in rural areas to defend national security, prevent crime and social evils. Many localities such as Thai Binh, Binh Thuan, Quang Nam provinces have organized effective security and order self-regulatory model with initial results in local community.
Vietnamese farmers are traditionally patriotic and revolutionary, and have made great contribution in the long history of building and defending the country. Today, they have continued upholding their important role and position in industrialization and modernization, building new-type rural areas, and contributing to national construction and defense. They will continue to write pages of history in the period of industrialization and modernization, greatly contributing to the successful implementation of the 12th National Party Congress’ Resolution, making the country prosperous, democratic, equitable, civilized and steadily march to socialism.
(1) Currently, farmers account for more than 70% of the population and more than 50% of social workers in Vietnam
(2) However, environmental sanitation is still a pressing social issue; environmental criteria are the least achieved. To date, only 44% of the communes achieved the criterion No. 17 on environment
This article was published on Communist Review No. 890 (December 2016)