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January 19, 2022, 3:58 pm

Central Highlands loses forestland to cassava fields

(08:01:49 AM 23/06/2014)
( - Deforestation in the Central Highlands has reached at an alarming level in the Chumomray National Park and Ngoc Linh Natural Sanctuary where farmers have cut down trees to plant cassava, analysts have said.


Last year, Kon Tum provincial authorities decided to plant a total of 28,000 hectares of cassava in the province. However, the actual cassava growing area reached 34,000 hectares by the end of the year.


In the first four months of 2014 alone, Kon Tum’s farmers planted 29,000 hectares of cassava, and it is expected to increase further in upcoming months.


According to Pham Dang Thao, head of the Planning Division of the Phuong Hoa starch processing plant in Dak Glei District, farmers can earn VND20 million from every hectare of cassava.


Thao said his company provided capital and committed to buy all the cassava from farmers, who can pay VND1,900 per kilo at minimum. However, the plant now pays VND2,050 per kilo, which helps farmers expand the cassava growing area.


Dak Ro Wa Commune in Kon Tum City has some 2,000 ha of natural forests, while 400 ha have been devastated to grow cassava.


However, farmers have to pay a heavy price for cassava fields. Phan Thanh Nam, chair of Dak Ro Wa Commune, said that the cassava growing area development has spoiled the overall forestry development program, and destroyed forest resources and exhausted the soil.


In the communes of Sa Nhon, Sa Son, Mo Rai of Sa Thay District, where there is a buffer zone of the Chumoray National Park, farmers have chopped down hundreds of hectares of forests just over the last few years.


The Chumoray National Park, with high biodiversity, is the home of many precious and valuable species.


There are thick cassava fields in the buffer zone of the park. Rice fields can also be seen just next to the Ba Gok forest rangers’ unit office.


The Ngoc Linh Natural Sanctuary has also been “invaded” by cassava plants. Tran Huu Thao, an officer of the sanctuary, said tens of forest devastation cases have been sent to criminal court, but farmers keep destroying the forests to make room for cassava fields.


Tran Viet Cuong, a senior official of the Kon Tum provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, admitted that the local authorities cannot do anything to prevent farmers from chopping down trees in the forests.


“It is very difficult to hinder the development of the cassava growing area, as cassava plants bring a stable income to farmers,” he said.

Nong Nghiep

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