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Binh Thuan loses fight against desertification in coastal area

(11:06:20 AM 06/11/2012)
( - Desertification in Binh Thuan is occurring so quickly that many sandy areas along the coast have already become "dead" for production, Nguyen Ngoc Hai, Vice Chairman of the Binh Thuan People's Committee, told participants at a workshop on desertification and its impacts in the province yesterday, Nov 1.



Cassava growers in Binh An Commune in the southern province of Binh Thuan 
have a poor crop of cassava due to drought and desertification. 


Almost 90,000 ha in the province has become desertified, accounting for about 11.5 per cent of the province's natural area, according to Mai Kieu, director of the Binh Thuan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. 

Frequent sandy storms shifting inland from the coast have threatened the production of farmers along national road No.1A, particularly in the portions running through Chi Cong, Lien Huong and Binh Thanh communes.

Duong Van Lang, director of the Forestry Department's Sub-Department, said the rapid desertification had become a matter of life or death for locals due to the loss of biodiversity of the land.

He cited the Le area, in Bac Binh District, as an example. This place used to be ideal for farming and livestock production and was a prime example of rich bio-diversity. Yet, in the past decade, it became barren. No plants or animals could survive due to the lack of water.

Water is vital for life. And desertification has taken away forests which used to serve as barriers, preventing sand from entering farmland and residential areas. In addition, the wind has created new sand dunes. All these factors have driven the people living along the coast line to desperation.


Hai, the provincial Vice Chairman, said that the water quality, particularly of underground water, seriously degraded over the last 30 years. So did the local biodiversity, as desertification already washed off the forest's uppermost soil layers.

"This creates a big problem for us, as we can't rehabilitate the forest in many areas," said Hai.

To cope with desertification, the province has obtained support from the government to plant more than 80 hectares of forests along the coast from Tuy Phong to Ham Lam with plants that can live in mobile or semi-mobile sand soil, such as casuarina and China trees.

In addition to increasing forest coverage, the province is also developing its irrigation system and encouraging farmers to practise sustainable agriculture. These efforts were highly appreciated by the United Nations Convention to Combat Disertification (UNCCD).

Binh Thuan is one of many areas that has been seriously affected by climate change. The dry season lasts six months, from October to April. About a quarter of the province's 197km coast has been desertified.

The workshop was jointly organised in Binh Thuan by the UNCCD and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Binh thuan People's Committee.

Participants included UNCCD representatives and desertification experts from Malaysia and Cambodia. 

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