The income gap between rural households in various provinces throughout the country has continued to widen, according to a development official in central Vietnam.
On Wednesday, Luu Duc Khai, chief of the Rural Development Policy Department at the Central Institute for Economic Management presented the findings of a survey conducted on some 3,000 rural families in 12 provinces across Vietnam between 2008-2010.
The survey was generated with the help of a team of researchers from Denmark's Copenhagen University. The study found that rural Vietnamese households earned an average of VND80.9 million (US$3,927) annually last year, compared to VND52.7 million ($2,558) in 2008.
While the southern province of Long An posted the highest average, VND114 million ($5,533), rural families in the central province of Quang Nam took in an average of VND42 million ($2,038) annually.
The survey also found that, in general, the ratio of impoverished families decreased to 16 percent last year from 20 percent in 2008.
However, some provinces like Long An and the central province of Khanh Hoa saw the number of poor families rise, while the ratio in some disadvantaged provinces like Lai Chau in the north sharply increased up to 20 percent.
The research group pointed out that six percent of the surveyed households don't have rice fields, adding that the rate has remained unchanged over many years.
The researchers found it worrisome that the rates varied significantly from one province to another.
Nine percent of the families surveyed in Dak Lak Province don't have rice fields. In Khanh Hoa Province, that figure was as high as 18.4 percent.
Rural families are also engaging in more jobs to earn living, which poses a number of risks, according Prof Finn Tarp of Copenhagen University.
When they have to do multiple jobs, farmers no longer have the chance to enhance the scale of their farming, skills, productivity and benefits, he said.
The survey's authors concluded that the poorer a rural family is the more it depends on agriculture. At the same time, they noted agricultural incomes are showing signs of falling.
The researchers urged policymakers to make plans to alleviate poverty among rural farmers, especially those who are disadvantaged.
The government has already implemented policies to compensate and support farmers in pursuing vocational training as agricultural land continues to shrink amid industrial development, Khai said.
However, he said it's now necessary to create jobs in the countryside by doing things like opening food processing facilities.
This will prevent rural residents from seeking jobs in cities where they are vulnerable to exploitation due to a lack of knowledge and skills, he added.
Tarp said that Vietnamese farmers face many risks, especially from harsh weather. Meanwhile, measures to stabilize the cost of seeds and fertilizers must be improved.