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  Enviroment Research & Protection

Drought blights; measures taken

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has ordered all provincial and city authorities to take drastic action to mitigate the blight of ongoing drought. In a directive dispatched on November 10, MARD requested agricultural services to make accurate assessments of water supply shortages in rivers and standing bodies, in addition to the reserves in irrigation reservoirs and subterranean catchments in each region.

The Ministry has charged provincial agricultural services with management of water resources, as well as dredging of canals and ditches.

The Agriculture and Rural Development Services and hydraulic companies must identify water-sourcing options to meet demand. Changing crop patterns and upgrades to irrigation networks are options being identified.

MARD has also requested the Hydraulics Department, Electricity Vietnam, the National Hydro-meteorology Forecasting Centre and other support agencies to closely monitor any developments in the weather or water resources, and to properly manage irrigation and hydropower systems to ensure water supply for agricultural and human needs.

By November 10, rainfall was 30% lower than previous years, causing water shortages over 125,000ha of cultivated land, according to the MARD statistics.

Deputy Chief of the Hydraulics Department Nguyen Dinh Ninh said that 123,580ha of rice, maize and other industrial crops in Tay Nguyen (the Central Highlands), Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces have been affected by drought.

The department predicts a water shortage and ongoing widespread drought that could be as harsh as that of 1998.

Government helps farmers fight drought, encourages conservation

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Pham Hong Giang recently discussed with Nong Thon Ngay Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper about methods for fighting the current drought. ...

Do you think that this year’s drought is abnormal?

It is normal in our country for a drought to be more severe in one year than in the previous year. Thus, according to this natural law, the current drought is not unusual. Nevertheless, it is surprising this year that the rain has stopped so early and that the rainfall is much less than last year.

What can the agricultural sector do to deal with the widespread drought?

We reported this situation to the Prime Minister last week. In the report, we asked the Government for support in providing fuel to pump additional water in the regions suffering from drought.

We also asked that localities undertake measures to conserve the use of water from reservoirs and canals. Farmers are encouraged to cover the bases of trees to limit evaporation losses.

We will cooperate with the hydro-meteorology forecast centre to inform farmers of the exact times of the tides and the best times to draw water for production.

The 2004-05 winter-spring season is the largest producing season of the year. How do we prepare for it?

The drought is harming the summer-autumn rice season (from June to November) and is expected to cause even greater harm to the winter-spring rice season (from December to May).

To deal with this situation, we have asked localities to conserve water resources and arrange to plant accordingly. Such regions should draw maps pointing out the most drought-affected places in order to help local farmers take the initiative in cultivation.

Local authorities must develop a thorough grasp of the problem in order to bring in-time relief to the people, especially ethnic minorities.

We will strive to meet approximately 80-90 percent of the demand for water needed for irrigation in the coming rice-growing season.

Droughts occur year after year, causing losses for people. What strategies and methods may the agriculture sector employ to cope with this?

In the long term, our ministry and the provincial people’s committees have agreed upon a project under which we will build more reservoirs as well as upgrade existing ones.

We also call upon the people to strengthen the irrigation works in their areas and apply water conservation methods in their production.

Moreover, we will change the types of crops grown in drought-affected regions to such drought-resistant crops as cashew and cassava.

We are determined not to cultivate short-term crops in those areas frequently suffering from drought.

Vietnam Economic Review - (15/11/2004)

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