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The Delta Beckons
30 | 06 | 2007
The socioeconomic achievements that have been made in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta prove that actual renovation has taken place regarding the thinking of the leadership and people in matters of doing business, developing the economy and making money.
The Cuu Long delta not only ensures food security, it also boosts export of rice, fish and black-tiger shrimp. In the context of World Trade Organization (WTO) membership and global trade, the delta is playing an increasingly important role and may yet overcome the challenges and find opportunities that come with WTO membership.

The regional economic structure has changed positively, with agriculture shrinking from 61.8 percent in 1995 to 51.38 percent in 2000, 45.9 percent in 2005 and to 44.34 percent in 2006. Industry-construction increased from 11.7 percent in 1995 to 19.5 percent in 2000 and to 23.41 percent in 2006. Services expanded from 21.3 percent in 1995 to 29 percent in 2000 and then to 32.25 percent in 2006. The delta region has shifted from monoculture rice farming to a diverse economy that includes various forms of farming, industry and services.

An agricultural milestone in the region is the completion of the master plan for reclaiming barren and flooded areas in Dong Thap Muoi (the plain of reeds) and the Long Xuyen Quadrangle turning them into agriculture-forestry-fishery areas. Provinces in the flooded areas in the delta have also found ways to produce during the flood season by making use of water-born resources, and these have turned out to be many times more profitable than rice growing. In this manner, the people in the delta have made the flood season the peak time of the year.

Economic growth has improved the society. The poverty rate has fallen from 27.03 percent in 2001 to 15.72 percent in 2006. Over 50 percent of Vietnam's annual rice production is from the region as is 92 percent of rice export revenue and more than 60 percent of seafood exports. Seafood is a major economic sector in the region. In 2000, there were 445,300ha devoted to aquacultural production that produced 365,141 tonnes of seafood including 234,755 tonnes of fish and 68,995 tonnes of shrimp. The seafood farming area has increased to about 700,000ha and seafood production was at 1.9 million tonnes in 2006.

As economic development has unfolded in the region, a number of things have been done to facilitate economic development and help the people of the flooded areas. These include canals for flood control in the Long Xuyen Quadrangle. Foundations in 200,000 residences were raised to keep people above the floodwaters. Marine businesses in the southwestern sea are also being promoted. Fishing ports have been established on the islands of Nam Du, Kien Hai, An Thoi, Phu Quoc and Tho Chu. The Ca Mau Gas-Power-Nitrogenous Fertilizer Project has been successful, the section of National Highway 1A that runs from Trung Luong to Nam Can was upgraded and expanded, the My Thuan and Can Tho bridges were built, as were the Can Tho international airport and the Phu Quoc international airport, and the Cai Cui international port was improved.

In An Giang, Kien Giang and Dong Thap, provinces that border Cambodia, border crossings and border markets were upgraded and they were declared national border economic zones. Urban areas along the southwestern frontier such as Ha Tien, Chau Doc and Tan Hong have received assistance to expand trade, import-exports and tourism.

Cultural and ecological tours along rivers and channels will take visitors to orchards year round, including during the flood season, something that is unique to the Cuu Long region. Previously an alkaline salt-marsh that was not productive, the delta region has been turned into the granary of Vietnam. Tourism businesses are getting more active and this has led to the need to improve orchards, tourist-related services, food and amateur music performance in the provinces of Ben Tre, Vinh Long, Can Tho and Hau Giang. Come to the delta now and enjoy success tomorrow.

Vietnam Economic News Online
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