Mekong Delta erosion incidents increase

Landslides along riverbanks and the coast in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta have been increasing as local authorities continue to struggle to find solutions amid a budget shortage.

Last month, more than 10 erosion incidents occurred in the Delta, including in Cà Mau, Hậu Giang and Long An provinces and Cần Thơ City.

In Cần Thơ, a landslide occurred along the Ô Môn River in Ô Môn District on May 21, causing five houses to fall into the river and threaten the safety of dozen of other houses.

The landslide in Thới An Ward’s Thới Lợi area eroded 55 metres of a river bank, and extended 10 metres deep inland. It caused a 50-metre section of a rural road to collapse into the river.

In Long An Province, a serious landslide occurred at an embankment on the Vàm Cỏ River in Cần Đước District’s Tân Chánh Commune on May 23.

The erosion was 50 metres long and 8 metres wide. Cracks in houses were seen after the landslide.

Previously, the embankment had eroded in some sections, and a house located at the section affected on May 23 fell into the river.

Võ Kim Thuần, head of the Long An Province’s Sub-department of Irrigation, said on Thursday that the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development officials had visited the sites and would try to come up with solutions to stop erosion incidents.

Local authorities have set up warning signs and barriers at the eroded site to ensure safety for transport and the public, he said.

Trương Công Định, a resident in Tân Chánh Commune, said the embankment on the river had some cracks and eroded on May 23.

The delta has 562 eroded sites along rivers and sea coasts with a total length of 786km, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Of the number, 42 eroded sites have a combined length of 149km, including 26 river sites and 16 coastal sites. These are extremely dangerous and need to be resolved urgently.

The total investment in the Delta to solve eroded sites is expected to cost about VNĐ6.99 trillion (US$307.9 million).

An Giang, Đồng Tháp, Cà Mau and Bạc Liêu provinces have been most affected by erosion in the delta.

Erosion prevention

As of the end of last year, only 138 km of eroded river sites and 49 km of eroded coastal sites in the delta have embankments and dykes built, according to the Southern Institute of Water Resources Research.

A model to build wave-breaking dykes along the eroded coast to reduce the damage of waves and preserve silt built-up to plant mangrove forests in the eroded area on Cà Mau Province’s Cà Mau Cape has achieved positive results.

However, the construction of embankments and dykes in the delta could not catch up with the erosion rate because of the lack of budget, planning and co-operation among the delta’s localities, according to experts.

The delta’s soil foundation is low and weak, so local authorities should relocate households in erosion-prone areas to safe areas, they said.

Construction projects that were built illegally along riverbanks should be demolished, they said.

Local authorities should also ban construction of houses and other building projects within 20-30 metres of riverbanks where erosion prevention projects have not been built, they said.

At a meeting held in Cần Thơ City on Thursday to review the city’s task of natural disaster prevention, control and rescue, Võ Thành Thống, chairman of the city’s People’s Committee, said that local authorities should stop granting licences to build houses on rivers.

The chairpersons of the People’s Committees of communes and wards would be held responsible for building stilt houses on rivers, he said.

This year, erosion occurred in the city’s Ô Môn, Bình Thủy, Thốt Nốt, Cái Răng and Phong Điền districts. Of the districts, Ô Môn was the hardest hit.

Lê Việt Sĩ, chairman of the Ô Môn District People’s Committee, said landslides along the Ô Môn River in Thới An Ward had affected 36 households.

The district had asked the city to offer housing for 22 families whose houses had been affected by erosion, he said.

Source: Vietnam News

Mekong Cái Lớn-Cái Bé sluice gate project is not necessary

Many experts and scientists on Monday continued to express concern about the Cái Lớn-Cái Bé dual sluice project in Kiên Giang Province and its possible impact on the region.

The project is expected to control saline intrusion and adapt to climate change.

At a meeting on the sluice project held in Cần Thơ on Monday, a report from the independent group of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and United Nations Development Programme in Việt Nam showed that saline intrusion was from the region’s eastern sea, but the sluice only controls water from the western sea.

Traffic is increasing on the two rivers of Cái Lớn and Cái Bé, forcing sluices to open, so it is difficult to control salinity as required.

However, the group concluded that the Cái Lớn-Cái Bé dual sluice project is necessary.

Đặng Kiều Nhân, representative of Mekong Delta Development Research Institute, said the project owner was unclear about the VNĐ8 trillion (US$350.9 million) investment.

As scheduled, the management board for investment and building irrigation infrastructure project No.10 under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development collected public opinions about the project’s implementation last year.

But residents have not been informed about the project, Nhân said.

Nguyễn Hữu Thiện, an independent expert on Mekong Delta’s ecology, said the project should not be carried out. Severe drought and saline intrusion in 2016 was caused by El Nino’s impact at that time, and it only occurs one time every 90 years.

The independent group said that the project was needed because of rising water levels but he disagreed with that conclusion.

In reality, the sea water rises only 3mm per year, while the region faces dangerous depression because of exploitation of underground water, Thiện said.

The environment has been damaged and rivers blocked, so people have been forced to exploit underground water, he added. If the project is carried out, the environmental risk and depression could worsen.

The project would not help ensure food security as the independent group claimed, Thiện said.

He said that in 2016 when the region suffered severe drought and saline intrusion, nearly 5 million of tonnes of rice were exported. Food security was not severely affected.

There is no evidence that shows the project would prevent fresh water from running out in the region, he said.

Dr Dương Văn Ni of Cần Thơ University’s faculty of environment and natural resources, said the project could affect thousands of people in the region.

On the same fields, farmers sometimes need both salt water and fresh water. So it is not necessary to carry out the project to prevent saline intrusion, he said.

Source: Vietnam News

Wide door for Vietnamese rice export

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, rice export grew 23.8 percent in volume to over 2.2 million tonnes, earning 1.11 billion USD, up 39.7 percent in value in the first four months of this year, a high figure over the past five years. It was partly attributable to Vietnam’s winning of rice export contracts, including 141,000 tonnes in January and 300,000 tonnes in April to Indonesia, which will be delivered from May – July.
In early May, Vietnam won another contract of shipping 130,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines.

Apart from traditional markets, new markets such as Bangladesh, Turkey and Iraq also posted Vietnamese rice import growth, increasing from 11to 91 times in volume and from 16 to 61 times in value. During May, a number of export contracts from the private sector are expected to be signed with hundreds of thousands of tonnes in volume. They also seek opportunities in markets signing free trade deals with Vietnam such as the Republic of Korea and Australia, said the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).

Compared to 2017, Vietnam’s rice export prices moved up nearly 15 percent to over 500 USD per tonne. The Ministry of Industry and Trade said demand for high-quality products such as glutinous rice, japonica and broken rice is rising. Last year, low and medium-quality white rice export only accounted for 3.88 percent and 8.24 percent of the total. The VFA suggested the government, ministries and agencies diversify markets to facilitate rice export, which should be responsibility of not only the Ministry of Industry and Trade but the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also.

Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development


Measures taken to preserve biodiversity in U Minh Thượng National Park

As many as 140 hectares of forest will be planted in the U Minh Thượng National Park in the Mekong Delta province of Kiên Giang this year, while various measures will be carried out to preserve biodiversity in the park, said director of the park Phạm Quốc Dân.

The park has total area of 21,107 hectares, including 8,038 hectares of core zone and 13,069 hectares of buffer zone, along with 365 hectares of preventive forest, 2,728 hectares of production forest, and 9,976 hectares of farming land, aquaculture area and land for other purposes.

Dân said that in 2018, the park will grow 4,000 local-origin trees, while applying advanced technology in scientific research, surveying and monitoring biodiversity, recovering forest resources, and maintaining biological balance, thus increasing forest coverage and contributing to climate change adaptation.

“The park will also continue a project to preserve genetic resources, while implementing five other smaller projects to observe hydrographic conditions of the forest, thus giving early warnings on forest fires and regulating the water level for forest growth,” he said.

The park will continue conducting a project to develop eco-tourism in the 2017-20 period with a vision to 2030 by attracting more investment in infrastructure for eco-tourism development, and improving the quality and diversification of its tourism products.

At the same time, community-based tourism will be further stepped up to create jobs and increase incomes for local residents, while raising public awareness of protecting natural resources and the environment.

Last year, the management board of the U Minh Thượng National Park planted over 10,000 hectares of cajuput and grew 7,500 local trees on degraded land areas.

Meanwhile, the park received and released to the natural environment 13 individuals of three species of animals, 120 individuals of six species of reptile and 21 individuals of bird, of which 141 individuals were listed as rare wild animals. The park also developed four species of wild animals.

Source: Vietnam News

Việt Nam is updating its emission target in Paris climate deal

Việt Nam is reviewing and updating the country’s carbon emission target to better comply with the Paris agreement on climate change and prepare for the global assessment later this year.

Deputy minister of environment and natural resources Võ Tuấn Nhân announced the review during a consultation workshop on Wednesday, where international partners such as UNDP and EU contributed ideas and technical expertise to help the country reduce its emissions.

Deputy minister Nhân said that Việt Nam started its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) back in June last year and the report has been mostly completed. The greenhouse gas mitigation component focuses primarily on energy-related policies, industrial and agricultural production, land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) and waste.

Evaluation of data needed for calculating costs and the feasibility of greenhouse gas mitigation in various areas and opportunities to mitigate greenhouse gas emission between 2020 and 2030 were also discussed.

Delegates debated Việt Nam’s capability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8 per cent by 2030 and even achieve a 25 per cent cut with international support. They identified priority solutions for greenhouse gas mitigation and challenges to take such measures.

At the event, the review team proposed 45 plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, industry, energy and LULUCF to achieve a cut of more than 299 million tonnes of CO2 between 2020 and 2030.

The team is working to review the local status of climate change adaptation, calculate losses and damage and benefits of integrating climate change adaptation and mitigation, and evaluate impacts of Việt Nam’s emissions cut target on the country’s socio-economic development.

Hoàng Anh, an expert from the agriculture ministry and a member of the NDC review team, suggested the NDC include issues like Agriculture 4.0, organic agriculture and aquaculture.

According to Prof. Trần Thức, vice chairman of the advisory council for the National Committee on Climate Change, the NDC is one of Việt Nam’s responsibilities to the international community. Close coordination between ministries and State bodies is vital for the development and implementation of Việt Nam’s NDC, he stressed, adding that socio-economic development is Việt Nam’s ultimate goal but it must be realised in tandem with adaptation to climate change.

After signing the global climate agreement in Paris in April in 2016, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc officially ratified the accord in November the same year – coinciding with the day the accord went into force and effectively binding Việt Nam to the deal’s terms that set out to keep global warming in check. As part of the efforts shared by 195 nations, each country is expected to submit an updated report on its NDCs every five years in to ensure the global temperature rise will not exceed 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level by the end of this century. The agreement also seeks to eventually achieve net zero emissions.

Currently, according to climate watch organisations, Việt Nam ranks 27th in greenhouse gas emissions, contributing around 0.72 per cent to the global emissions.

Source: Vietnam News

Cooperatives, clean farming methods help farmers raise the bar

More and more farmers in Vietnam are discovering the benefits of working with cooperatives and export companies and using clean farming methods to ensure high-quality produce.

In places like Tien Giang and Dong Thap provinces there are many agricultural cooperatives that comply with VietGap standards and sell their produce to exporters like Vina T&T.

For example, all 28 large dragon fruit farmers in Tien Giang are members of cooperatives which instruct them to use clean farming methods and avoid certain chemicals.

They sell their entire output to export companies and not to traders. They thus have a reliable buyer whereas selling to traders often leaves them at their mercy.

The cooperatives schedule the cultivation and harvest of its members to ensure the harvest is spread throughout the year to ensure supply and thus prices do not fluctuate.

Huynh Van Quyen, a dragon fruit farmer said: “I have been working with the local co-operative and Vina T&T for around five years. I have been learning a lot from other farmers and the cooperative staff, who are very helpful and clear in their instructions. My fruit output, quality and income also saw great improvements.”

Vina T&T and the cooperatives it works with assign area codes for each farmer as required by the US when it imports fruits.

The dragon fruits are also exported to markets like Germany, and since they meet international quality standards, are very well received there.

Since the cooperatives work closely with their farmers, the product quality is consistent throughout the entire province, making it easier to export.

Longan farmers in Dong Thap are also instructed by their cooperative and Vina T&T not to use chemicals to match international standards, which greatly boosts the quality of their fruit.

Le Thanh Loc, a longan farmer in Dong Thap’s Chau Thanh district, said: “Earlier Chau Thanh farmers would use their own individual methods without caring much for clean farming, so our output was not that high and some were even affected by plant diseases. After working with a farming expert, Dr Nguyen Dang Nghia, locals have realised the importance of clean farming and changed their ways.”

Overall, farmers improve quality and output when they join cooperatives and adopt clean farming practices, according to insiders.

In the past they would follow their instincts or simply copy from others, some switching between crops regularly depending on what is popular at the time.

Now more and more farmers around the country have greater awareness and are seeing the big picture, realising the benefits of organised work, clean farming and export.

Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

Trà Vinh to aid coconut producers

Coconut producers have been given a timely boost after plans were revealed to offer more support to those who work in the industry.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the Mekong Delta province of Trà Vinh received the welcome news this week from Tô Ngọc Bình, deputy director of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment and director of SME Trà Vinh project.

Coconut growing is a big deal in Trà Vinh as it’s the second largest plantation in the Mekong Delta with near 20,000ha.

According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), in order to upgrade the value chain of the industry, the province will focus on strategic solutions such as improving technologies and techniques; replacing coconut cultivars; mechanising transportation; preliminary processing and packaging of coconut fiber industry and diversifying products from coconut fiber and coconut peat.

Trà Vinh will also focus on improving the capacity of corporate management and market access, establishing a satellite network to supply coconuts to processing plants, increasingly promoting trade and supporting enterprises.

A recent survey in two districts with the largest area of coconut in the province (Càng Long and Tiểu Cần) revealed companies operating in the coconut industry in the province mainly use coconut fiber as materials to produce nets, coir, mat and activated carbon. Meanwhile other materials such as copra and coconut milk are made use of by traders and processors outside the province.

It’s hoped in the future local traders and farmers will be able to expand their business to get the best prices for the fruit.

Relevant units will now spend time assessing and analysing the business and propose better solutions to the problems many farmers face, said Phạm Minh Truyền, vice director of the provincial DARD.

Currently, there are six enterprises operating in the coconut industry of Trà Vinh. The province strives to more than double that to 15 by the year 2020, with at least four of them exporting directly.

Raising value chain for peanut

And it wasn’t just coconuts that came under the spotlight.

On Wednesday, Trà Vinh’s DARD and SME project management board also organised a conference to seek solutions for enhancing peanut’s value.

Currently, peanut planting productivity in the province reaches the highest in the country with more than five tonnes per ha.

Peanut from this area are known for being top quality, with big seeds, bright shells and low impurities.

They are considered perfect for processing and export. But despite all their good points, the industry has suffered a number of blows.

Right now, the sources of seed supplied by local people only meet about 20 per cent of the demand, 80 per cent of the remaining peanuts are imported from other provinces.

There is also lack of peanut processing enterprises in the province, causing obstacles for consumption market. Hence, the upgrading of the peanut industry’s value chain to reduce costs and increase profits is an urgent task, Truyền said.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as DARD is in the process of testing new types of peanuts that can be grown in the rainy season. If successful, these peanuts will be rolled out and put into use.

The Trà Vinh SME project, carried out during 2014-20, is sponsored by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade with a total investment of 12.1 million CAD (US$9.8 million), with 11 million CAD being non-refundable aid.

The provincial People’s Committee has also issued a policy to provide financial support to cooperatives and their alliances when joining the large-scale field model, which is being implemented in the locality.

Under the policy, farmers who are growing rice, fruit trees, and coconuts will be provided with VNĐ840,000 (US$36.84) per ha for the first crop and VNĐ560,000 per ha for the second crop.

Farmers join the large-scale field model will also receive subsidy of 30 per cent of seed or sapling costs for the first crop.

Source: Vietnam News

Modest growth for VN: World Bank

In contrast with previous optimistic forecasts for Việt Nam’s economic growth in 2018, the World Bank (WB) has estimated a modest figure of 6.5 per cent, 0.2 percentage point lower than the National Assembly’s target.

In their latest East Asia and Pacific economic update announced on April 12, the WB said Việt Nam’s economy will continue to be stable and sustainable but with a very conservative growth increase compared to predictions from other international organisations, at about 0.1 to 0.6 percentage points lower.

Sudhir Shetty, World Bank Chief Economist for the East Asia and Pacific region, said since Việt Nam’s agricultural sector had recovered strongly in 2017, the country will find it hard to achieve an economic breakthrough in 2018.

Đinh Tuấn Việt, senior economist at the WB in Việt Nam, added that the report was made without the preliminary data for Việt Nam’s economy in the first quarter.

Việt said the WB is cautious and wants to continue collecting data before issuing further predictions.

As for the rest of 2018, the WB says Việt Nam’s slow structural reforms can make the current recovery process weak, slowing growth in the medium term. In addition, poor budgetary control will hinder poverty reduction as well as human resource investment.

On another hand, the country’s current levels of trade turnover and foreign investment are high, making Việt Nam’s economy vulnerable to protectionism-related risks.

These risks require further steps to enhance macro-economic resilience, including the continuation of flexible exchange rate management, foreign exchange reserves strengthening and stricter monetary policy application, in line with the State Bank’s monetary growth policy, said Việt.

In the fiscal sector, revenue-expenditure reforms need to be deepened, including expanding the tax base, rationalising the public administration and increasing the efficiency of public investment.

In addition, reforms within the State-owned sector, such as regulatory improvement for investment, including capital and land, should be carried out simultaneously to ensure the country can maintain stable growth.

“Việt Nam has grown into a much larger economy, so 1 per cent growth now and 1 per cent growth in the past five years require different amounts of effort,” he added.

The WB report emphasises that although the outlook for Việt Nam’s economy in the short term is generally favourable, there are still great challenges.

Since the end of the first quarter, different forecasts for the country’s economic future in 2018 have been published.

The Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) estimated that economic growth in 2018 may reach 6.67 per cent, while the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR) gave a higher number of 6.83 per cent.

Other organisations such as the Asian Development Bank and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, varied greatly in terms of growth rates for Việt Nam in 2018, ranging from 7.1 per cent as one of the strongest growth in the region, to 6.5 per cent.

Source: Vietnam News

Development of organic fertiliser key to VN’s future agriculture

Việt Nam has identified organic agriculture as the way forward, and why the development and promotion of the product is key to achieving their goals.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường has said that Vietnamese agriculture must “tune in to the signals of the market, which is not solely the domestic market, but also the 180-country and seven-billion-people global market.”

One signal is the growing demand for environmentally friendly and organic production, which makes organic fertiliser “an inevitable trend”.

The current demands for fertiliser in Việt Nam reached somewhere around 11 million tonnes a year, with as much as one tonne of fertiliser (mostly chemical varieties) being used on one hectare of farmland, nearly five times the average amount used 10 years ago.

According to the agriculture ministry (MARD), the efficiency rate is around 45-50 per cent, meaning only half of the fertiliser used helps the plants, the rest is wasted and has dangerous implications to the soil.

Despite the benefits of chemical fertiliser, long-term use not only deteriorates the quality of the soil but also the agricultural products themselves.

Chemical fertilisers work fast as nutrients (almost exclusively nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) are released almost immediately, while natural components-based fertilisers take time to reach to the plants but bring plenty more kinds of nutrients and minerals.

The arability of soil applied with organic fertilisers has also been shown to improve over time, as it retains the capacity to hold water and air, as well as fosters microbial activities.

The development of organic fertiliser would not just help better the quality of soil in the long-term, but also propel the growth of organic agriculture.

Production and use

Currently, according to MARD, Việt Nam produces an average of 2.5 million tonnes of organic fertiliser a year — a tenth of its chemical fertiliser output (26.7 million tonnes) and 8.5 per cent of total fertiliser output.

However, the import figures show the trend of using organic fertiliser has risen in the last few years: Việt Nam imported a total of 220,000 tonnes of organic fertiliser in 2017, twice the amount from 2016.

In 2017, 617 tonnes of microbial fertiliser were imported, up six times compared to 2015 and twice compared to 2016, while 117,000 tonnes of biological organic fertiliser were imported, up eight times compared to 2016. Last year also witnessed the first time Việt Nam imported soil-improvement organic fertiliser products (105 tonnes).

The imports keep rising while the domestic potentials for organic fertiliser production remains largely untapped, as huge amounts of ‘by-product’ generated by our existing agriculture activities such as plant matters and manure are not fully used and could pose a serious environmental threat if left untreated.

Therefore, alongside application, promotion of production is critical in the country’s grand scheme towards green agriculture.

Lê Văn Tri, chairman of the Việt Nam Bio-fertiliser Association, said there must first be a series of factories that can produce microbial fertiliser commercially. Without a sustained supply of these essential ‘probiotics,’ any hope for promotion of organic fertiliser would not be possible.

“The production of microbial organic fertiliser depends largely on local availability. The manufacturer must be located at the microbial source, in addition, the fertiliser produced must be based on a firm understanding of the characteristics of the soil and the plants there,” Tri said, adding that “We can’t produce organic fertiliser at this province and bring it to use in elsewhere in the country.”

To further consolidate the need for local-based fertiliser producers, experts have pointed out that unlike chemical fertilisers, the quality of which do not diminish too much even after long-distance transportation, its organic counterpart’s quality suffers heavily.

“We must first command the technology, grasp the potentials for organic fertiliser in each locality and build a suitable planning based on this knowledge,” Tri said.

“Otherwise, rampant and ill-considered production would flood the market with questionable quality products, causing nothing but headaches to the farmers and concerned authorities.”

Nguyễn Văn Bộ, Director of Việt Nam Academy of Agricultural Studies, argued that enterprises might be the ‘locomotive’ in the production of organic fertiliser but their output is limited to a few dozens of tonnes a year, and the ‘main carrier’ of the production must be the farmers or farm owners.

“We must devise policies to target these groups, encouraging millions of Vietnamese farmers to produce organic fertiliser, or it’d be difficult to reach our goal,” he said.

Aside from production plans, currently in Việt Nam there is still no technical standard for fertiliser and only four out of 12 laboratories in the country can examine and evaluate microbiological criteria.

The Plant Protection Department said they were working to introduce a complete standards code for quality of organic fertiliser, biological and microbial products within the year.

According to the latest report from the Government, 100 enterprises – including big names with large financial resources – have pledged investment into development of organic fertiliser. A growing number of enterprises who collaborate with farmers have also switched to the use of organic fertiliser as customers’ demands for organic fertiliser is mounting.

With exhaustive policies from the authorities, commitment from the business sector, and the support from the public in both production and consumption, “we could count on a future where Việt Nam could boast serious use of organic fertiliser, helping to build a clean, high-quality, efficient, and sustainable agricultural production, to participate in the global value chain,” agriculture minister Cường said.

Source: Vietnam News

Mekong Delta ready for fight against climate change

As hot weather peaks this month in southern Việt Nam, authorities in the Cửu Long (Mekong Delta) region are stepping up efforts to cope with forest fires and salinisation as a response to climate change.

The Delta’s Kiên Giang Province alone has 86,450ha of forested land, accounting for 13.6 per cent of its total area.

“As one of the vulnerable areas for forest fires in the dry season, U Minh Thượng National Park (UMTNP) in Kiên Giang Province is now our biggest concern,” said Lê Văn Trọng, a member of the management board at the park.

“Fire prevention may be easier this year than in 2017 because the park has had few heavy rains in the first two months of the year. The water level is still high in small rivers and lakes in the park,” he added.

Of the park’s total area of 21,000 hectares, 8,000 hectares comprise a core area which houses many rare and endangered birds. A total of 187 bird species, 39 amphibian species and 34 fish species live in the park.

The forest is widely considered the Delta’s richest region in terms of plant and animal life, with over 243 species of plants. The park has a rich mammalian population, totaling an impressive 32 species, which includes hairy-nosed otters and fishing cats.

“Despite this season’s more favorable conditions, the water level at higher parts of the park has fallen quickly since the beginning of the month, so the threat of forest fire is high in that area in particular,” Trọng said.

To solve the water shortage, rangers, soldiers and locals are digging pits to store water capable of containing about 200 m3 of water each, he added.

For key areas at a high risk of fire, rangers and forest owners have been told to mobilise forces and equipment for fire prevention and fighting around the clock during the dry season.

Rangers, soldiers and locals will also be asked to offer assistance in case of fire.

The provincial government has spent more than VNĐ10 billion (US$440,000) for forest fire prevention this year.

Provincial and district forest protection agencies have been asked to work with local authorities to regularly inspect, patrol and strictly manage forest areas to detect violations in a timely manner.

Huỳnh Minh Nguyên, director of UMTNP, said that rangers at watch towers were monitoring the park around the clock.

“The force also regularly patrols the park to prevent locals from entering it illegally to collect honey, or to hunt and fish.

“The canopy is thick and like a tinderbox,” he said.

He added that the UMTNP management board had called on local households to take part in forest management and use preventive measures against fire.

“Apart from this, forest management agencies have been asked to adapt to climate change in the dry season so they can raise awareness about forest protection among local households and train them in proper fire prevention measures when they do daily chores like cooking, collecting honey, or burning dried leaves and dried straw after crops,” Nguyên said.

Trương Thanh Hào, head of the local Forest Protection Sub-department, said that  provincial authorities had instructed local forest rangers, the police, and the army to work closely to prevent fires.

Temporary dams and wells have also been built in forests to store water. In addition to clearing dried branches and bushes in forests, firebreaks have been installed.

Saltwater threats

Because water flow from the Mekong River began to reduce rapidly early this month, saltwater is predicted to enter local rivers more deeply in Delta provinces during the dry season, according to the Southern Institute of Water Resources Research (SIWRR).

In 2010, saltwater began appearing two months earlier than usual and spread more widely and deeply into the major tributary rivers of the Mekong River in the western area, including the Tiền, Hậu and Vàm Cỏ rivers.

Salinity in the early dry season has been unusually bad. As a result, local authorities and farmers have been told to restructure agricultural and aquaculture production to adapt to climate change.

Saltwater is predicted to enter 25 to 35 kilometers at local river gates in Delta provinces, including the Vàm Cỏ River, in the dry season, threatening local water sources.

Water levels in canals have been low since the end of last month, causing saltwater to encroach deep inland.

In Kiên Giang Province’s Kiên Lương District, saltwater has penetrated 15km into the Rạch Giá-Hà Tiên Canal and Canal 15.

In Tiền Giang Province, saltwater has intruded 20km inland and is expected to surge 30-40km by the middle of this month.

The water has a salinity of about four per cent, which is believed to be harmful to crops and expected to enter Bến Lức and Tân An areas in Long An Province.

SIWRR has told local authorities and farmers to store water and have a plan to combat salinisation in the dry season.

The Water Resource Directorate at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is regularly updating information on salinisation and water sources so local authorities can develop plans to cope with climate change.

Local authorities have also been told to monitor salinity at all times and inform farmers about the status, as well as give instructions in restructuring their agriculture and aquaculture production.

The delta provinces of Kiên Giang, Sóc Trăng, Bạc Liêu and Cà Mau have been hit the hardest by saltwater intrusion.

Farmers in Kiên Lương, An Biên, An Minh, Vĩnh Thuận and U Minh Thượng districts in Kiên Giang tried and failed to save standing rice crops last year.


To give farmers up-to-the-minute data about salinity, Cần Thơ City since 2012 has set up eight automatic salinity monitors on main rivers and canals in the city.

Bạc Liêu Province has seen hot weather and saline conditions recently. Together with the neighbouring provinces of Cà Mau and Sóc Trăng, Bạc Liêu is now operating 100 major sluices to adjust the usage level of fresh water. Farmers have been warned to preserve fresh water.

Last year, more than 40 temporary dykes were built in the three provinces.

In an attempt to prevent saline intrusion and preserve soil quality, the entire region is now planting two rice crops each year, instead of three. The extra time is being used to grow vegetables.

Last year, Kiên Giang took precautionary measures by investing more than VNĐ40 billion (US$1.8 million) to upgrade 276 dykes and build sluices on the Kiên River and Cụt Canal.

Another VNĐ20 billion ($900,000) was spent on drilling more wells to ensure fresh water for domestic use.

The Tiền Giang Province’s People’s Committee has instructed relevant agencies to apprise locals about saltwater intrusion.

It has also instructed authorities in coastal districts to dredge canals to store fresh water and pump fresh water for rice fields if saltwater intrusion worsens.

New sea-dyke would help Mekong Delta cope with climate change

Experts and representatives from the Government and international organisations met yesterday in HCM City to discuss the feasibility of a sea-dyke project which could help the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta cope with the effects of climate change.

Speaking at the workshop, Nguyễn Duy Tuấn, director of the Institute of Geology, Water and Environment, said that responding to climate change, especially in the Mekong Delta, was a top national priority.

“It’s vital to invest in new structures to prevent tides and saline intrusion. We also need to store fresh water and respond to rising sea levels in the Mekong Delta, as well as cope with flooding in HCM City,” he said.

The project, which was proposed in 2011 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, would include a 28km-long dyke extending from Gò Công Commune to Vũng Tàu City and Cần Giờ Biosphere Reserve, where it would connect with another dyke 13km long.

The proposal also includes construction of drainage ditches, a Lòng Tàu sluice, and Đồng Tranh estuary dams and canals north of the Soài Rạp River.

Scientists have completed a pre-feasibility study for the project, which has met the requirements of HCM City and Mekong Delta provinces.

To set up a scientific basis for the construction of Vũng Tàu – Gò Công sea dykes, the Ministry of Science and Technology has carried out six independent scientific research projects at the state level.

Prof. Dr. Đào Xuân Học, chairman of the Việt Nam Irrigation Association, said the sea-dyke project would offer a solution to flooding caused by a combination of heavy rains and tides.

It would also address salinity intrusion and rising sea levels for 1.1 million hectares.

“It is recommended that the project be implemented in three phases with a total investment of VNĐ74 trillion (US$3.24 billion),” he said.

Dr. Lê Xuân Tuấn of Hà Nội University of Natural Resources and Environment said it was important to continue to assess floods, tides and mangrove forests and other natural phenomena west of Lòng Tàu River and east of Soài Rạp River.

He explained that the assessment would serve as a basis for a more detailed assessment of the impact of the Vũng Tàu – Gò Công sea dyke construction on the area’s ecosystem, especially on mangroves and benthic animals.

Experts at the workshop also discussed the impact of the project on social and economic development of localities, as well as the development of waterway transport in the region.

The workshop was organised by the Institute of Geology, Water and Environment, Việt Nam Irrigation Association, Việt Nam Hydrological Association and the Hoàng Gia Water and Environment joint-stock company.

Source: Vietnam News