Farmers need support from gov't to tackle drought

The Government should offer policy support for rice farmers in chronically drought-stricken areas, enabling them to switch to other crops, a conference to review the 2015-16 winter-spring crop in the south-central and Central Highlands provinces heard.

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The Government should offer policy support for rice farmers in chronically drought-stricken areas, enabling them to switch to other crops. – Photo congluan.vn

“Farmers need such policies to feel secure,” Nguyễn Đức Hòa, deputy chairman of the Bình Thuận Province People’s Committee, which hosted the conference, was quoted as saying in Thời báo Kinh Tế Việt Nam (Việt Nam Economic Times) newspaper.

Since the 2014 summer-autumn rice crop, drought has been a regular occurrence in south-central coastal provinces like Bình Thuận, Ninh Thuận, and Khánh Hòa. This year the drought has appeared earlier, hitting the winter-spring crop, and is likely to worsen by the time of the summer-autumn crop.

According to the Crop Production Department, with the drought and a reduction in the cropped area, the 2015-16 winter-spring crop is likely to see output fall by 129,000 tonnes year-on-year to 1.8 million tonnes.

To cope with the  drought, the department has urged the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to instruct farmers to plant earlier this year.

“Because of El Nino, high temperatures set in very early on a wide area and rainfall was 15 – 30 per cent lower than average; there was no rain at all in some places,” Nguyễn Văn Hòa, deputy head of the Department, said.

This has severely affected agriculture in south-central and Central Highlands provinces.

Statistics show that around 177,000ha in these provinces suffer from severe drought, including 167,000ha in the Central Highlands.

“The drought will continue and affect the next crop this year,” Hòa added.

Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi, and Bình Định provinces have advanced their cultivation schedule by 10 days to limit the impacts of the drought at the end of the crop. However, Bình Thuận, Ninh Thuận, and Khánh Hòa provinces have been unable to do that due to the effect of last year’s drought and a late harvest.

The Central Highlands provinces of Kon Tum, Gia Lai, and Đắk Lắk started planting as early as the end of last year.

The department encouraged farmers and local authorities to cultivate short- and very-short-term rice strains to avoid the impacts of the drought.

According to the Irrigation General Department, the dry season started in December 2015 and will end in June in the south-central region and in April in the Central Highlands.

Reservoirs in these provinces have mostly run out of water, causing shortages for both daily use and irrigation.

“The Government has agreed to provide VNĐ500 billion (US$23 million) to 34 provinces to fight the drought,” Nguyễn Văn Tĩnh, deputy head of the Irrigation General Department, said.

“We are considering using the money to drill wells, dig ponds and transport water.”

Extreme weather threatens growth

Prolonged drought and salinisation are posing a serious threat to Việt Nam achieving this year’s economic growth target, said an official yesterday.

Such extreme weather conditions first appeared in late 2014 and show no signs of letting up since peaking in summer 2015. This has taken a toll on the growth rate of the agricultural sector, which now has a negative rating of -2.69 per cent for the first time in decades. This statistic was made public yesterday by the General Statistics Office (GSO) during a press briefing on the country’s economic growth during the first quarter of this year.

The Mekong (Cửu Long) Delta consists of 12 provinces and is the most prominent rice production region in Việt Nam. The region is suffering from the most severe drought in nearly a century, while struggling simultaneously with saltwater intrusion. The combined threat resulted in a loss of about 700,000 tonnes of rice, or 6.2 per cent, compared to the same period last year.

The total growth rate of the whole agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector during the first three months of 2016 was down by 1.23 per cent, compared to last year. This resulted from a historic cold spell this year, which decreased agricultural productivity in the northern region.

The growth of the national gross domestic product (GDP) this quarter - the beginning of the five year development plan for 2016-2020 – only reached 5.46 per cent, a decline from 6.12 per cent during the same period last year.   

“It is very complicated to calculate exactly how badly the negative agricultural growth impacted general economic growth,” said GSO’s National Accounts System Department Head Hà Quang Tuyến. “Yet it surely affected first quarter performance and could negatively impact the whole year, if the government has no solutions to it”.

“Should drought and salinisation continue throughout this year, they will very likely prevent Việt Nam from reaching its annual growth target,” said GSO General Director Nguyễn Bích Lâm.

The National Assembly earlier set the GDP target growth rate for 2016 at 6.7 per cent.

Prompted by the El Nino phenomenon, severe drought is still raging over the Central and the Central Highland regions. Nearly 42,000 ha of crops were damaged by drought conditions, so far. Meanwhile, both water shortages and saltwater intrusion affected about 340,000 ha in the Mekong Delta in the south, according to the latest reports by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

On Monday China doubled the amount of water released from its Jinghong reservoir, upstream on the Mekong River. This was done to ease the drought burden on Việt Nam’s Mekong Delta region. But experts warn such solution may only be temporary, since the dry season has yet to peak this summer.

Binh Phuoc loses $22.3m due to drought

The southern province of Bình Phước has lost around VNĐ0.5 trillion (US$22.3 million) in the recent drought season, according to the provincial People’s Committee.

As of March 20, the province’s total area of infected crop plants was more than 28,800 ha and infected fish ponds 588ha. Around 26,000 local households are facing a water shortage.

The committee held a meeting on Thursday to discuss the solutions with relevant agencies.


VNS

Farmers need support from gov't to tackle drought, social news, vietnamnet bridge, english news, Vietnam news, news Vietnam, vietnamnet news, Vietnam net news, Vietnam latest news, vn news, Vietnam breaking news
 
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