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Drought hits VN agricultural sector growth

(17:32:59 PM 06/07/2015)
(Tinmoitruong.vn) - Unfavorable weather, especially protracted drought in certain parts of the country, has dampened growth in the agricultural sector, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Drought hits VN agricultural sector growth


Drought has hit a paddy field in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai. According to the agriculture ministry, drought has damaged 122,000 hectares of crops in the Central Highlands, southeastern and south-central regions.

Data of the General Statistics Department showed gross domestic product growth of the agro-aqua-forestry sector in the first six months of this year was 2.36%, down from the 2.9% in the same period last year.


The slower agro-aqua-forestry growth was attributable to the serious impact of harsh winter in the north and drought in the central region on crops in the first months of this year, heard a review meeting of the agriculture ministry in Hanoi on Wednesday.


The ministry said due to bad weather, the cultivation sector grew just 1.08% in the first half, which was much lower than 2.8% against a year ago.


Nguyen Van Tinh, deputy head of the General Irrigation Department, told the meeting that drought has exacted a heavy toll on the central region, and left the most serious impact on Ninh Thuan and Khanh Hoa in 40 years. 


Tinh said average water levels of reservoirs in Ninh Thuan are now 10% below capacity and of reservoirs in Khanh Hoa Province 17% below capacity. For the summer-autumn crop, drought has dried up 10,229 hectares (34%) of total agricultural land in Ninh Thuan and 10,400 hectares (24%) in Khanh Hoa.


Drought wreaked havoc on 122,000 hectares of crops in the Central Highlands, southeastern and south-central regions, including 61,000 hectares in Daklak Province, 17,000 hectares in Dak Nong Province.


Tinh said there was three million hectares of paddy for the winter-spring crop and yields totaled 20.7 million tons, down 4,300 hectares and 153,000 tons compared the winter-spring crop of 2014.


Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said drought had led some 50,000 hectares of agricultural land to be deserted in Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan, Khanh Hoa and Quang Tri provinces.


Phat said the ministry has proposed local and central governments support farmers in the affected areas to plant corn and other crops that can grow in harsh weather conditions and use little water.


According to the Government’s portal chinhphu.vn, the Prime Minister has approved using VND150.6 billion from the State budget to help eight localities and three enterprises under the ministry weather the impact of drought and saltwater intrusion in the winter-spring crop this year.


Of the amount, VND13.1 billion will go to Son La Province, VND23 billion to Nghe An Province, VND12.7 billion to Ha Tinh Province, VND14.8 billion to Bac Lieu Province, VND14 billion to Ca Mau Province, VND14.3 billion to Bac Hung Hai Irrigation Works Co. Ltd., VND14.5 billion to Bac Nam Ha Irrigation Works Co. Ltd. and VND4.2 billion to Dau Tieng-Phuoc Hoa Irrigation Works Co. Ltd.


Some 50,000ha of farmland uncultivable: ministry


About 50,000 hectares of farmland across Vietnam, mostly in the south central coast region, are no longer cultivable due to a severe drought, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).


Deputy General Director of the MARD’s Directorate of Water Resources Nguyen Van Tinh said Ninh Thuan and Khanh Hoa provinces, both located in the south central coast, are experiencing the worst drought over the last 40 years.


Reservoirs in Ninh Thuan have almost completely dried up with the remained amount of water below 10 percent of their designed capacity. In Khanh Hoa, only 17 percent of water left in reservoirs.


About 34 percent of farmland, or 10,229 hectares, in Ninh Thuan will not be cultivated this summer-autumn crop while Khanh Hoa will have to suspend cultivation on nearly one quarter of its farmland, or 10,400 hectares, he added.


At the worst moments of drought, some 122,000 hectares of farmland in the Central Highlands, southeast region, and south central coast were affected by the drought. Around 61,000 hectares of that area were in Dak Lak and 17,000 hectares were in Dak Nong – another Central Highlands province, Tinh noted.


As the drought seriousness was predicted, the MARD’s Department of Crop Production has asked provincial authorities to help local farmers switch to drought-tolerant crops instead of rice. More than 4,950 hectares of rice land were planted with other food crops during the 2014-2015 winter spring crop and the 2015 summer-autumn crop, compared to the targeted 8,527 hectares.


However, many drought-resistant food plants cannot grow well due to water shortage for a long period of time.


Deputy Director of the Department of Crop Production Tran Xuan Dinh said localities have employed various measures to cope with the drought such as digging ponds, seeking underground water, dredging canals, requesting hydropower plants to release water from their reservoirs, and asking residents to save water.


According to the department, Ninh Thuan has asked the MARD for seed supports for post-drought cultivation while the other central provinces of Binh Thuan, Nghe An and Quang Tri also requested the Government’s financial aids for settling drought aftermath and take prevention measures.