Saturday, 20/10/2018
Impacts of the present land policy and management on rural development
26/1/2011 14:40' Send Print

The Vietnam Law on Land 1987 emphasized: "Land is a precious national resource, a non-replaceable special productive material for agriculture and forestry, a primarily important component of the habitat, a population distribution layout". In the process of national industrialization and modernization, the needs of socio-economic development have been changing land use purposes. The amount of land being used for industry, infrastructure and urbanization is increasing, hence the arable land area is shrinking. Quick changes and growth of the economy have resulted in new problems of land policy and management. In order to cope with this, a lot of amendments and supplements should be made to the legal system related to land.

1. SHORTCOMINGS OF THE PRESENT LAND POLICY AND MANAGEMENT

1.1. Unclear definition of content, role and organization of land management of the State

- Despite the many amendments and supplements made to the Law on Land, specific regulations about the State's responsibilities and obligations related to land have not been clearly stated. For example, Article 2 of the 2003 Law on Land only stipulates "the rights of the State to land and the State management on land", while the obligations and responsibilities of the State over land are not clearly and specifically spelled out.

- There is shortage of human resources in the State apparatus of land management. For example, the 2003 Law on Land stipulates "the organization of the land management agency" in this way "land management agencies are established uniformly from the central to the grassroots levels; management agencies of one level will be under direct control of the state administrative bodies of the same level; and cadastral staff at ward, commune and town levels are to be promoted or dismissed by the People's Committees of the same level". Those regulations may be interpreted differently and power will be concentrated in the hands of a small number of administrative officials in office.

At present, cadastral staff at the ward and commune level is not treated as state public servants; they work under contracts, consequently they are given a few benefits, while they carry out a large amount of work, and bear great pressure and responsibilities. As a result, cadastral staff at the ward and commune level is insufficient and professionally unqualified, and not knowledgeable about changes in the use of land in their own communities. This will lead to poor management of the land, planning and changes of land use purposes in many localities(1).

- The planning of land use is often impractical as it remains subjective and one-­sided by management staff, lacking solid ground. This poses difficulties to land management work and impedes the business and production processes, as well as the building of infrastructure. The delayed timing in the planning of land use often leads to ineffectiveness of the work. There is a lack of integration of socio­economic development planning, urban development planning, infrastructure development planning, and land use planning.

As stipulated in Article 25 of the 2003 Law on Land, land use planning is for the duration of 10 years and the cycle of land use planning adjustment is once every 5 years while land use duration applied to land allocated to users is from 30 to 50 years. The discrepancy between the cycle of land use planning adjustment and the land use duration is a worry to businesses. Both businesses and farmers are badly affected by frequent changes in planning. Fertile rice growing fields have been turned into urban centers, export processing zones, and industrial zones overnight.

1.2. Overlaps and differences between the Law on Land and other laws and economic development policies are creating difficulties for land users.

- Difference between the Law on Land and the Law on Construction: As stipulated by Article 122 in the 2003 Law on Land, the land use application file of an investor should include a land use application and investment license. However, according to Article 37 in the Law on Construction, an investor must have all necessary information about his project (its economic, social, environmental impacts), primary designs of subprojects (construction design, solutions to construction and land use). As a result, it is impossible for the investor to get an investment license if the land site for the project is not approved.

- Difference between the Law on Land and the Civil Code: Before the 2003 Law on Land was effective, all contracts and documents on land use rights without seals by the Public Notary or the local authorities were valid; on the contrary, the Civil Code stipulates them as invalid.

1.3. Different interpretation of land use rights and land ownership rights

Despite strong reforms in land policies, these policy reforms remain incomplete and lack theoretical background. In the land decree, the State provides its citizens with seven rights related to land: land use rights, land inheritance rights, land release rights, land use mortgage rights, land use transfer rights, land tenure rights, and the right to make capital contribution in the form of land use rights. All of these help make land use rights close to land ownership rights but remain land use rights only. This leads to difficulties in decisions like the decision to sell, to present, to accumulate, to mortgage, or to bestow land as an inheritance, and weakens the people's right to enjoy benefits from land and the ability to protect their land.

1.4. Irrational regulations relating land use duration and area limitation.

In the market economy the rights to land use must be seen as goods, as property that can be bought and sold, mortgaged, and rented. But, as the State allocates and to users for a certain duration, the above rights are limited by land use duration. As stipulated by the 2003 Law on Land, the current agricultural land use duration is 20 years for land under annual crops, aquaculture and salt production, and 50 years for land with perennial trees. This regulation is controversial. Different opinions can be cited from scientists, management staff and land users. On the other hand, the fixed land use time has reduced the effectiveness of the long-term land use aim and the power of the above mentioned rights. Facts have already shown that this regulation does not work well. For example, after the Resolution No.10 issued by the Vietnam Communist Party on contract-based rice production came into effect in 1988, cooperative's land was allocated to cooperative members and they have been cultivating on the land ever since, or for 20 years now. None of the state agencies has ever thought of revoking these rights or requiring re-registration. In addition, the Law on Land took on October 15, 1993 as the date of land allocation to households, which means that October 15, 2013 would be the date of expiry, what will come of the issuance of land use certificates? Accordingly, the fixed duration for land use is inappropriate now and should be abolished.

Regarding the quantity of land, Article 70 in the 2003 Law on Land related to the limited agricultural land area allocated to farmers and Article 69 of the 2004 Decree on instruction for the enforcement of the Law on Land, stipulate:

(1) the area of land allocated to each household or individual to plant annual crops, practice aquaculture, and produce salt would be no more than 3 hectares for each kind of land;

(2) the area of land allotted to each household or individual to plant perennial trees would be no more than 10 hectares in communes, wards and towns in the deltas, and no more than 30 hectares in the midlands and mountainous regions;

(3) the area of land allotted to each household or individual to plant protection forests and production forests would be no more than 30 hectares for each kind of land;

(4) in case a household or an individual is given different kinds of land (land for annual crops, aquaculture land, salt production land) the total combined area of land allotted would not be more than 5 hectares;

(5) in case a household or an individual is given additional land for perennial trees, the area would be no more than 5 hectares in communes, wards and towns in the deltas, and no more than 25 hectares in the communes, wards and towns in the midlands and mountainous regions.

The current regulation on limited quantity of land area reduces the ability to increase production scale. In addition, quantity limitation is only meaningful to land allocation, while meaningless in cases where the right for land use is bought or released. It would never control the area of land bought by a person in different localities or rents for the unlimited length of time from a relative who holds the legal tenure of the land.

Vietnam's agriculture, which is moving toward market-oriented production, would inevitably lead to the process of land accumulation and the redistribution of the rural labour force. Those households which are wealthy enough and keen on agricultural business will accumulate land for large-scale production. The existence of fixed land allocation would certainly waste land resources and prevent the development of competent farmers.

1.5. Existence of double systems of land prices and land speculation.

The amended Law on Land spells out that the land price set by Provincial People's Committees is to uniform the land financial system based on the rule of a single land price. However, the existence of a double price system consisting of the state fixed price and market price, causes difficulty for land management. Indeed, this double price system is common in many countries, but the discrepancy is not so wide and it reflects the supply­ - demand relationship in the market. In general, in a stable and developed economy the two prices are similar (Dang Hung Vo, 2004). This means the correct establishment of the land price framework by the management body and truly reflects the ability to generate income from land. Presently, the gap between the two prices in Vietnam is wide, real prices of land in many urban and suburban areas are two high in comparison with the ability to generate income from land use. The current price of land set by the State often makes up about from 20 to 40% of the market price and the price for non-agricultural land has risen by 50 to 100 times. This gap comes from the poor land financial system and land management system, which have rarely used economic instruments to regulate land. Results of research by Vietnam National Competition Capacity Improvement Project (NCCI) in 2007 show that "the present price setting work is not based on certain criteria or specific grounds; and there is a lack of an independent council for land price appraisal; and consequently it seems difficult to protect the rights of businesses involved".

Another problem in the establishment of the land price framework based on market price is that there are no criteria to define market price, given the fact that market price at present cannot be taken as standard to set land price as it contains the element of speculation. Land price is regularly adjusted by the provincial or city's government (People's Committee) in January every year while in the market it is changing daily. While Law on Land intends to establish a single land price system, in fact, the land price set by people's committees has reached only from 50 to 70 percent of market price. In order to stem it, amended Decree No.17/20006/ND-CP allows provincial people's committee to be proactive in adjusting land price close to market price, but it does not work as expected. These shortcomings have caused obstacles in land clearance work and compensation when the State revokes land. Land speculation and the "beg-give" mechanism and corruption are still common, which distorts the land market. Lack of transparency in compensation, indemnification, revocation and allocation of land have led to an increase in conflicts and legal actions in the past few years.

2. IMPACTS OF LAND POLICY AND MANAGEMENT ON RURAL DEVELOPMENT

2.1. Revocation of agricultural land and the livelihoods of farmers who have lost their land due to industrialization and urbanization

a) Reduction of agricultural land:

In recent years the process of industrialization and urbanization in Vietnam has been fast and large scale. It has helped basically change the rural society toward an industrialized society. The process, however, has brought about many thorny social problems that need settling. One of which is livelihood, employment, income and living conditions of the people who have their land revoked for urbanization and industrial zones.

According to the latest report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, an area of about 73,000 hectares of land is revoked annually to be used for industrial zones, urban construction and other non-agricultural purposes, including golf courses. In the period between 2001 and 2005 alone, the total revoked land area throughout the country was 336,000 hectares, making up nearly 3.9% of the total agricultural land. In the past 5 years, land revocation has affected the lives of nearly 627,495 households, which consist of about 950,000 laborers and about 2 million people have been to some extent hurt, with many peasant households now having no land to cultivate, and thus ending up in poverty. Although the problem has often been noted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, it has been inflating instead of easing.

The hardest hit areas are the two targeted economic zones (EZs) in the north and in the south. In these two EZs, many provinces have suffered from large revoked areas: Tien Giang province - 20,000 hectares, Dong Nai province - 19,700 hectares, Binh Duong province ­16,600 hectares, Hanoi Capital City - 7,776 hectares, Vinh Phuc province - 5,573 hectares. The Red River Delta has the greatest number of households affected - 300,000 households, followed by the Southeastern region - 108,000 households. Hanoi alone has the greatest number of farmer households having their land revoked - 138,291, next comes Ho Chi Minh City - 52,094, followed by Bac Ninh province - 40,944, then Hung Yen province - 31,033, and Da Nang city - 29,147.

Table 1: Area of industrial zones as of July 2008 and planned to 2015

Region

Area of IZs in July 2008 (ha)

Planned area of IZs from now until 2015 (ha)

Total area of IZ in 2015 (ha)

Red River Delta

10,046

15,239

25,285

Nothern Mountains

2,801

1,837

4,638

North Central Coast

779

1,649

2,482

South Central Coast

3,651

5,221

8,872

Central Highlands

463

724

1,183

Southeast

22,352

9,811

32,163

Mekong River Delta

5,027

5,979

11,006

Vietnam

45,042

40,460

85,502

Source: Tran Ngoc Hung (2008), Review of Construction and Development of Industrial Zones and Export Processing Zones.

As of July 2008, the country has had 187 industrial zones (IZs) built on the total natural land area of 45,042 hectares, of which the rented industrial land area is 29,469 hectares, accounting for 66.6% of the natural land. Among the 187 IZs, 110 are operating, 77 are still in the land clearance stage. These IZs are located in 52 provinces and cities across the country and largely concentrated in the 3 targeted economic zones with combined natural land making up 60% of the total natural land area of IZs.

These IZs are distributed this way: the Southeast region contains 75 IZs on 22,352 hectares, the Red River Delta - 42 on 10,056 hectares, and the Mekong River Delta - 28 on 5.027 hectares. The worrying point is that only about 50% of the land in IZs have been leased on average. Meanwhile, the Government has just approved another 40,460 hectares of land for IZs to the year 2015. The land area allocated for IZs to the year 2015 unfortunately are concentrated in the provinces that have comparative advantages in wet rice growing and agricultural development like the Red River Delta, the Mekong River Delta, and North Central Coast provinces.

In addition, the race for golf courses has been witnessed in a number of provinces. As reported by MARD, out of 64 provinces and cities, 51 have golf courses, and 123 golf courses have been granted investment licenses with the total area of 38,445 hectares, of which agricultural land accounts for 15,246 hectares.

b) Employment and livelihoods of farmers who lost their agricultural land:

According to the results of surveys done in Long An, Nghe An, and Phu Tho provinces by the Central Institute of Economic Management in November 2008, each hectare of agricultural land that has been transferred to another purpose would make from 13 to 15 agricultural workers redundant. Only 10 to 20 percent of labourers in the households suffering from. land revocation are able to adapt to other non­agricultural occupations and about 70 percent of such households have lower living standards than before their land rights were revoked. In the period between 2001 and 2005, due to the revocation of 366,440 hectares, nearly 4.8 million farmers lost their agricultural jobs. Topping the list is the former Ha Tay province with 37,703 people, followed by Vinh Phuc province - 28,800, and Dong Nai province - 12,295. These laborers had to change their jobs to non-agricultural ones, but facts show that they met a lot of difficulties and complete unemployment among them is an increasing trend.

According to reports from 11 provinces in the Red River Delta, the employment situation of agricultural labourers after land loss looks like the following. (Table 2)

Table 2: Revocation of agricultural land and employment of farmers in the Red River Delta in the 2001-2005 period and projection for the 2006-2010 period

2001-2005

2006-2010

Area of revoked agricultural land (ha)

18,563

26,946

Number of jobless labourers due to land revocation (persons)

284,583

240,295

Number of jobless per hectare of revoked agricultural land (persons)

15.33

8.91

Source: Ministry of natural Resources and Environment, 2007.

Thus, in the period 2001-2005, the rate of agricultural workers losing jobs due to land revocation in the Red River Delta was higher than the country's average. The figure is 284,583 people and each hectare of revoked land left 15.33 workers redundant (compared to 13 workers per hectare in national average).

Data in Table 3 shows that in a number of provinces of the Red River Delta the rate of unemployment in the households losing land is 8.3%, higher than the unemployment rate in urban centers in the whole country which is 5.31 % ­specifically in Hanoi 12.4%, Hai Phong 10.8% and Bac Ninh 7.9%. Under the State policy, when revoking land for IZ development, businesses must prioritize the creation of jobs for local people, especially the youth. In reality, it is difficult to enforce this, chiefly because local workers are unable to work for those businesses as they are untrained. Retraining and job training seems to be limited.

Table 3: Employment rate of labourers in households losing land in the Red River Delta (%)

Hanoi

Hai Phong

Bac Ninh

Ha Tay

Average

Unemployed

12.4

10.8

7.9

2.0

8.3

Farming

53.0

19.4

61.2

56.1

47.4

Industrial workers

10.3

10.7

9.4

7.0

9.4

Office workers

4.4

3.7

4.6

7.7

5.1

Trading

6.2

12.1

2.9

9.6

7.7

Casual hired workers, motobike-taxi drivers

1.6

16.7

5.6

4.5

7.1

Other jobs

10.3

25.8

7.8

12.8

14.2

Old-aged

0.8

0.8

0.6

0.3

0.6

Total

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

Source: Survey done by the Hanoi National University of Economics in 2007.

c) Compensation for the households who lost their agricultural land:

Farmers who have their land revoked are entitled to compensation, support with services and job training, job generation in order to stabilize their life by the State. There are, however, shortcomings, obstacles and drawbacks in the process of compensation that force farmers into difficult situations, especially for those who have 70 to 100 percent of their cultivated land revoked, their lives are now uncertain.

This has happened on a wide scale in the regions that have been planned for the development of industrial zones, new urban centers in many provinces and localities throughout the country. Present policies on agricultural land revoke and compensation for farmers' crops are irrational, too low in comparison- with the market price, and fail to create a better life for them. The low rate of compensation and a lack of new jobs represent urgent issues faced by farmers whose. land has been revoked, causing losses and damaging life and production, resulting in a state of poverty of a number of farmers, as well as social inequality. Making remarks on the impact of land revocation on poverty in Vietnam, a World Bank's report wrote: "Farmers themselves are the poorest people, but, together with the country's modernization, they have been trapped in the cycle of poverty".(2)

The land losses also lead to an increase in conflicts and legal actions taken by peasants affected. As reported by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, as of March 2007 the Ministry had received 22,265 petitions related to land conflicts, complaints, and accusations.

Land is a precious national resource, a non-replaceable special productive material for agriculture - as the population grows, industries grow, and so do the needs for food and foodstuffs to feed people, and plant materials for production in both quality and quantity. The issue cannot be solved without agricultural land. This is obviously a strategic issue at present and in the long run.

2.2. Small-sized and scattered agricultural land

Data of the Agricultural Census done by General Statistical Office in 2006 indicated the number of households in rural areas as of July 1rst, 2006 was 13,77 million, of which 10.46 million households doing agricultural, forestry and fishery activities. Among them, 9.74 millions household are agricultural farming. In comparison with 2001, the total number of households in rural areas has increased at 0.7 million (+5.4%), but the number of agricultural, forestry and fishery households reduced (-6.8%) and the number of agricultural households also decreased (-8.9%). Despite of this, the average size of agricultural land of each household is still very small. Moreover, each household possesses a relatively big number of land pieces (in the Red River Delta for example, 8-12 land pieces) due to "equal" land allocation. The sizes of land and water surface for agricultural production possessed by farming households are represented in table 5.

Table 5: Structure of farming households by size of agricultural land (%)

1994

2001

2006

Households without land

1.15

4.14

4.05

Households possessing under 0.5 ha

70.91

64.34

61.02

Households possessing 0.5 until 1 ha

16.23

16.42

17.14

Households possessing 1 ha and more

11.71

15.08

17.80

Source: General Statistical Office, Results of the 2006 Rural, Agricultural and Fishery Census.

Thus, although the number of households with land size of below 0.5 hectare has reduced, they are still the majority (61%), and this segment of farmers cannot gain high productivity even when they make full use of the soil's biological capacity; the number of households that have sizes of land (over 1 hectare) large enough to carry out large-scale production has increased, but is still modest (17.8%).

Statistics from 2006 show the average agricultural land area used by each household was 5,769.9 m2, of which the average area under rice cultivation area by each household was 3,561.4 m2. The average land area is unevenly distributed among different regions in the country. The average size of agricultural land of households in the southern part of the country is larger than in the northern part, it is larger in mountainous regions than in the plains. The average agricultural land area used by one household in the Southeastern provinces is 11,346.97 m2, in the Central Highlands 2,936.51 m2 and in the Mekong Delta 8,834.48 m2, while this average in the Red River Delta is just 2,057.96 m2. The discrepancy in the average land used by households between the region with highest average (the Central Highlands) and the region with the lowest average (the Red River Delta) is 6.28 times, while that between the highest average province (Dak Nong) and the lowest average province (Hanoi) is 10.75 times(3).

The average land area for one agricultural labourer of farming households that possess agricultural land in the whole country is 3,317.7 m2 . This figure is larger than the average land area used by household. This has shown that while a large number of labourers have moved to urban centers or changed jobs, they still keep their land in the countryside.

Table 6: Average agricultural land possessed by households and by labourers (m2)

Region

Per household

Per labourer

Red River Delta

2,057.96

1,550.47

Notheast Mountains

4,405.12

2,197.07

Northwest Mountains

10,160.31

4,302.83

North Central Coast

3,746.83

2,266.76

South Central Coast

4,181.71

2,759.46

Central Highlands

12,936.51

6,196.88

Southeast

11,346.97

6,264.74

Mekong River Delta

8,834.84

4,390.73

Vietnam

5,769.95

3317.7

Source: General Statistical Office, Vietnam Statistics Yearbook 2007.

The scattered nature of agricultural land can be represented by the average number of plots per household. While under the French colonial regime (before 1945), there were about 15 million plots, at present the number is nearly 100 million plots in the whole country(4). A study by the Institute of Agricultural Policies, Strategies Research and Development (IPSARD) has indicated that households in Ha Tay province have the smallest average land size, each household farms on an average of 6 plots of land and only 6% of the plots are attached. This phenomenon is common in most provinces in the north, chiefly in the Red River Delta(5).

Table 7: Scatter of agricultural land possessed by farming households in selected provinces

Province

Average number of plots

Percentage of attached plots (%)

Average area of each plot (m2)

Median area of plot (m2)

Ha Tay

5.8

6.8

331

250

Lao Cai

5.1

7.7

2,217

960

Phu Tho

7.4

11.0

559

312

Lai Chau

6.3

19.6

1,894

1,200

Dien Bien

6.9

27.7

3,498

780

Nghe An

4.9

11.9

1,227

430

Quang Nam

4.3

7.7

2,888

500

Khanh Hoa

2.5

21.2

2,583

1,000

Dak Lak

3.3

26.5

3,420

2000

Dak Nong

3.2

31.6

6,899

2000

Lam Dong

2.6

19.0

3,849

2,000

Long An

2.9

54.9

3,674

2,000

Source: Institute of Agricultural Policies, Strategies Research and Development, Central Institute for Economic Management, Institute of Labour, Social Affair Studies, Join survey in 2006.

Scattered land is a great hindrance to the emergence of market-oriented agriculture, and at the same time it prevents the application of machinery and equipment in production, especially the process of agricultural mechanization and irrigation. This in turn affects the quality and costs of agricultural products when these products are under great competitive pressure following Vietnam's WTO accession.

2.3. Waste of land use due to suspended planning

Despite tight regulations, in the process of making and appraising planning there are still some loopholes in land use plans. As of August 2007, there is in the whole country had 1,649 areas under suspended plans of the total area of 344,665 ha and 1,288 suspended projects with the total area of 31,650 ha(6). Many businesses that have true needs for land for production and business have to rent land from individuals or households at high prices and there is no way for them to access these "deserted" pieces of land. Farmers cannot cultivate on the revoked land to earn an income.

2.4. Signs of national food insecurity

These signs are represented by the gradual shrinking of the rice growing area.

Table 8: Rice cultivating area in 2000-2007 (1000 ha)

2000

2002

2004

2006

2007

Change (2007-2002)

Red River Delta

1,212

1,196

1,161

1,124

1,111

- 101

Notheast Mountains

550

562

557

553

553

+ 3

Northwest Mountains

136

140

151

154

158

+ 22

North Central Coast

695

700

685

683

683

- 12

South Central Coast

422

399

401

392

376

- 46

Central Highlands

176

186

198

208

205

- 29

Southeast

526

484

475

435

432

- 94

Mekong River Delta

3,945

3,834

3,816

3,773

3,684

- 261

Vietnam

7,666

7,504

7,445

7,324

7,201

- 465

Source: General Statistical Office, Vietnam Statistics Yearbooks 2007 and 2008.

Table 8 shows the following:

(i) Annual total rice planting area (total number of crops planted in a year) in the period between 2000 and 2007 decreased by 465,000 ha (from 7,666 to 7,201 ha);

(ii) The two largest rice growing regions, the Red River Delta and the Mekong River Delta, total 4,795 ha, accounting for 66.6 % of the country's annual total rice growing area. In past years, the rice growing area in these two regions has decreased by 362,000 ha, making up 77.8% of the total shrunken area. The Mekong River Delta has cut 261,000 ha and the Red River Delta 101,000 ha(7).

Another sign of the instability of food security is the rice price fever of May 2008, when rice prices increased from 6,000 VND/kg up to 20,000-22,000 VND/kg. The Government had to intervene by taking a number of measures. The rice market, though, has not regained its stability.

3. RECOMMENDATIONS OF LAND POLICY AND MANAGEMENT IMPROVEMENT

Land policies that support agricultural development and raise welfare and social security for farmers are not only essential for people's life but also one of the primary requirements of social progress. Land policies in agriculture and rural development are vital for sustainable growth, effective national administration, and welfare and open economic opportunities for rural people, especially for the poor. Therefore, integrated policies and measures to tackle the problem are needed.

3.1. Readjusting and improving land policies:

Not being included in the list of issues in the Law on Land to be amended, land policies have not been carefully studied and comprehensively stated in the Law. Therefore, in the coming time, land policies need to be one of the issues included in the list for amendment. The following need to be supplemented and completed in the Law: Land allocation, land tenure from the State; price of land use rights; compensation when land is revoked by the State; resettlement for those losing land.

a) Concretely, in Articles 39 and 40, the 2003 Law on land stipulates the difference between two types of land revocation: (i) Revocation of land to be used for national defense and security purposes, national economic interests, public interests; (ii) Land revoked to be used for economic development purpose.

On the household side, no matter whether it is type (i) or (ii), land revocation carries on and the same nature which means the household must terminate their land use rights to the land allocated or tenured by the state. Therefore, this must be carried out in accordance with regulations that are amended or/and supplemented as necessary.

Item 1, Article 39 states: "The State carries out land revocation, compensation, land clearance after planning, land use plan to be made public". As there are many kinds of planning and land use plans, in order to protect the legitimate rights of households having their land revoked it must be made clear that "The State carries out land revocation, compensation, land clearance after planning, with detailed land use plans to be made public".

Item 2, Article 39 only spells out that "a relevant State agency shall inform the person whose land is to be revoked the reasons, move timing and plans, compensation, land clearance and resettlement options". This item has placed the household in a passive position against their grassroots democracy status. Therefore it is essential to make a supplement to it which includes consensus from the household, under which they have the right to discuss with the relevant State body about the reason for revocation, move timing and plans, compensation and land clearance.

As regard to the resettlement compensation to the household having their land revoked, Item 2, Article 42 says "A person having his land revoked shall be compensated with the kind of land of the same use purpose, if land is not available for compensation, compensation shall be calculated equal to the value of the right to land use at the time of issuance of the land revocation decision". The regulation consists of two points: compensation in the form of land and compensation in the form of cash; while the content of compensation in the form of land is clearly stated, the content of compensation in the form of cash is not consistent. The item needs to be changed this way "A person having his land revoked shall be compensated with the kind of land of the same use purpose, if land is not available for compensation, compensation shall be paid in cash so that the person involved can buy land of the same use purpose in the land use rights market at the time of issuance of the land revoke decision".(8)

As far as the "issue of resettlement is concerned, the synchronousness of the resettlement areas must be guaranteed, resettlement models must comply with inhabitants' occupations; regarding stages, they must be reversed: instead of "land revocation" then "resettlement", "resettlement" then "land revocation" must be undertaken; it is necessary to design sanctions to ensure effective enforcement of resettlement policies.

b) The principle of democracy and openness should be ensured in planning and making plans for land use. The 2003 Law on Land, clause 21 stipulates 8 principles in planning and making plans for land use, including democracy and openness. However, the principle of democracy is not concretely defined in any clause of the Law. Due to the fact that planning and making plans for land use play a very important role in the land issue, the principle of democracy needs to be defined comprehensively and in detail from the central to the grassroots level. For the grassroots level (commune, ward, town), this principle can be identified in direct democratic contents; for other levels, it will be identified in representative democracy. At the commune level, planning and making plans for land use must follow the principle of: people must be informed and planning must be discussed and monitored. Sanctions need to be strong enough to end suspended planning and delayed implementation of projects when sites have been handed over, and land being used for purposes other than those applied for, thus causing unemployment as people have no land to work.

c) A unique land use management agency is to be entrusted with directing and managing production planning in connection with land use, working out a concrete mechanism for the coordination among management agencies that allocate and rent forests, and allocate and rent water surface for aquaculture and exploitation of marine products.

d) Promptly conduct surveys and make a master plan for rice production development to the year 2020 for the whole country and for each region. The focus of this planning is to clearly identify the rice growing area which is needed to ensure food security.

3.2. Accelerating the process of land market formulation and land accumulation in rural areas:

- Build a land market in agriculture, through which farmers are entitled to decide whether to transfer, transform, lease, make capital contributions and lend their land use rights. Despite the fact that land is State-owned, it is always seen as a commodity. Farmers are in fact "rural businesses", they must be able to negotiate with other enterprises, and service suppliers that do business on the agricultural land they are toiling.

- Extend land allocation area and land use duration. In the future, accumulation of land to create larger and specialized production areas will be an urgent requirement for rural development. Farmers should be allowed to use land for at least 50 years to help them feel safe working on their land. If land is accumulated to take advantage of economies of scale, it would create favourable conditions for them to produce, harvest, process and store their agricultural products. In large agricultural commodity production, allocated land areas for rice production can be adjusted to increase by as many as two to three times the present figure (6-10 ha per household). This adjustment must be based on surveys on people's needs in each province to calculate land allocation.

Especially, it is necessary to map out and bring into effect a decree on policies of accelerating land accumulation in rural areas.

3.3. Strengthening the national food security:

- It needed to conduct surveys, make stable planning and design measures to protect the rice growing area, minimize the change of land use purposes of rice growing land, creating solid ground for long-term national food security.

- In the long run, it is essential to make fixed planning for land to be used for production infrastructure (irrigation systems, roads, etc.) and the portion of land to be allocated for the development of industry, services, and cultural and social welfare work in rural areas. It is also essential to make fixed planning of rice growing area, clearly indicating where these rice growing areas are concentrated ­in which provinces, districts and communes.

- It is needed to conduct surveys to update the status of rice growing land in each province and city throughout the country, comparing it with food security forecast for Vietnam to the years 2015 and 2020 and to the time of population stability, so as to identify the area of rice growing land to be protected.

- It is important to follow the following rinciple: the change of land use purpose from agricultural land to specialized land for urbanization and industrialization must be based on planning, land use plans, and construction plans approved by authorized agencies and must follow formal processes spelled out in land laws, investment and construction laws.

REFERENCES

· Central Institute of Economic Management Research, Social Impacts of the Implementation of the Law on Land 2003 on Rural Households, 2008.

· Chu Tien Quang. Rice production and food security in Vietnam. Vietnam's Socio-Economic Development. No. 58, June 2009. Hanoi.

· Dang Kim Son, Vietnam's Agriculture, Farmers, and Countryside Today and Tomorrow, National Politics Publisher, Hanoi, 2008.

· General Statistical Office, Vietnam Statistics Yearbooks 2006, 2007, 2008. Hanoi.

· Law on Land 1987 and 2003, Judiciary Publishing House 2005.

· Luu Duc Khai and Ha Huy Ngoc, Life, ivelihoods and Incomes of Farmers Having Land Revoked Due to Urbanization - Stats and Suggested Policies, Sustainable Development Research Review, No.4, 2008. Hanoi.

· Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Report on Land Situation, 2007.

· Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, National Strategy on Rice production to Ensure Food Security to 2020 . Hanoi 2008.

· Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (2007) Report on Suspension Land Planning.

· Tran Ngoc Hung, Review of Construction and Development of EZs - EPZs, 2008.

· World Bank, Vietnam Development Report, 2006.

· World Bank Policy Research Committee, Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction, Culture and Information Publisher, Hanoi 2004.

--------------------------------------

(1) In China, for instance, the transfer of 5 hectares of agricultural land to non-agricultural must be approved by the Central Government, while in Vietnam the transfer of hundreds hectares of agricultural land to non-agricultural is decided by the local authorities.

(2) The World Bank, Vietnam Development Report 2006.

(3) General Statistical Office, Vietnam Statistics Yearbook 2007.

(4) Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Report on Land Situation in 2007.

(5) Dang Kim Son, Agriculture, Farmers, Vietnamese Countryside Today and Tomorrow, National Politics Publisher, Hanoi 2008.

(6) Ministry of natural Resources and Environment. Report on land use 2007.

(7) Chu Tien Quang. Rice production and food security in Vietnam. Vietnam's Socio-Economic Development. No. 58, June 2009.

(8) Central Institute for Economic Management, Social Impacts of the Implementation of the Law on Land 2003 on Rural Households. 2008. p.64.

Phan Si Man Ha Huy Ngoc