Landslides threaten lives of Chợ Gạo Canal residents

TIỀN GIANG — Hundreds of families living along Chợ Gạo Canal in Mekong province of Tiền Giang fear a landslide might destroy their homes any moment.

Chợ Gạo Canal is an important waterway for transporting goods through ships from HCM City to the Mekong Delta and vice versa. In the 2013-14 period, the Ministry of Transport implemented the first phase of a project to dredge and upgrade the canal.

However, the second phase which was approved to be carried out in the 2016-2017 period in the build, operate and transfer (BOT) format was suspended, as it could be transferred to other form of investment.

Costing VNĐ1.3 trillion (US$57.7 million), the project is aimed at upgrading a 28.6-km section of the canal.

The slow implementation of the project’s second phase has affected the lives of families living along the canal. The entire road system was completely eroded, affecting the business of the local people.

The areas most susceptible to erosion are concentrated in Bình Phục Nhứt, Bình Phan and Xuân Đông communes.

Several sections of dykes along the 10-km canal were eroded.

The local people said the cause of the severe landslide was the large number of boats passing Chợ Gạo every day, while the embankment kept degrading and was not repaired on time.

Trần Thị Thanh Hiền, a resident in Bình Phục Nhứt Commune, said the residents lived in anxiety because the main road was damaged by the landslide.

Hiền, whose house was at least a dozen metres away from the canal long ago, now lives in fear of being swept away by the water, as erosion has brought the house perilously close to the edge of the canal.

To control the landslide, residents were using simple tools such as timber, sand bags and steel wires, but a few days later, the road suffered more damage through another landslide.

These households cannot be shifted because they are waiting for support from the Government to carry out the second phase of the project.

Lê Văn Mỹ, chairman of People’s Committee of Chợ Gạo District, said more than 600 households had been affected by the poor implementation of the second phase of the project.

The local authorities have asked the Transport Ministry to conduct the second phase quickly to help households lead a better life.

The upgrade project will ease the traffic along the canal, preventing ships from getting stuck in landslides and shallow water.

Read more at http://vietnamnews.vn/society/425736/landslides-threaten-lives-of-cho-gao-canal-residents.html#riIETeeFkP5MoF0m.99

10% of Cà Mau homes to lack clean water in dry season

CÀ MAU — Of Cà Mau Province’s 226,000 households, 10 per cent still do not have access to clean water.

Nguyễn Hạnh Phúc, director of the Clean Water and Rural Environment Sanitation centre, said the province has 232 water supply systems but only 20 of them work effectively.

Most of the water supply systems are damaged, use simple technology, and do not work effectively.

In the dry season, many people lack clean water due to a shortage of water sources and saline surface water, especially in Đầm Dơi, U Minh, Năm Căn, Thới Bình, Trần Văn Thới districts.

Phúc said it was difficult to supply water because many of the households are located in different places. He suggested that local residents try to collect and reserve rainwater during the dry season.

The centre plans to upgrade and extend some water supply systems so they will work more efficiently, and will call for investment to repair damaged systems.

Read more at http://vietnamnews.vn/society/425651/10-of-ca-mau-homes-to-lack-clean-water-in-dry-season.html#vZgXhbhcLgaxbKUQ.99

Hậu Giang to get urban clean-water supply by 2020

HẬU GIANG — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Hậu Giang plans to build a safe water-supply network serving 70 per cent of residents in urban areas, with an average of 70 litres per person per day by 2020.

The province’s People’s Committee approved the project for rural areas at a meeting held on Monday. The aim is to provide clean water to all residents in urban areas by 2030.

The project will be divided into two phases with total estimated capital of about VNĐ1.3 trillion (US$57 million).

Capital sources include state budget funds, ODA (Official Development Assistance), and other loan capital.

Under the draft plan, water supply and drainage networks include three options: using water from water supply plans in Mekong Delta; buying water from the Aqua One Drinking Water Factory; and improving existing water plants and building extra reservoirs.

Consulting engineer Nguyễn Quốc Bình said the upgrade of plants and more reservoirs could save a lot of money, compared to other more costly options which will take a long time to implement.

Đồng Văn Thanh, deputy chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, said the project would require about 85.5ha of land to build reservoirs and good management of surface water.

Planning for water supply and use in the province is part of the national target programme on clean water and environment in rural areas and the programme on building new-style rural areas, according to Thanh.

New medium-sized and large water supply systems for residential areas, schools, medical stations and markets are needed, especially in areas with water scarcity and poor quality of water.

Advanced technology is needed to treat brackish water in the case of saltwater intrusion, such as Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology for treatment.

“The project needs to be adjusted soon to submit to the Ministry of Construction for approval,” he added.

Nguyễn Hoàng Anh, deputy director of the province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said the province had nearly 200 water supply stations operating in rural areas.

He said this project would contribute to exploiting water resources more efficiently and meet the need for clean water.

By 2016, nearly 35,000 households living in rural areas had access to clean water, accounting for 24 per cent of total rural households in the province.

The province has more than 46,000 wells supplying about 90,000cu.m of water a day.

Source: Vietnam News

Delta to boost tra fish quality

HCM CITY — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has approved a three-tier co-operation plan for production of high-quality tra fish breeds in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta from now to 2025.

The VNĐ597 billion (US$26.2 million) plan calls for tra fish breeding chains to produce about 50 per cent of the Delta’s demand of 2.2–2.5 billion high-quality fries a year by 2020.

By 2050, the production chains would supply 100 per cent of the Delta’s demand of 2.5–3 billion high-quality fries a year.

The first of the three tiers includes research institutes and universities that use advanced techniques in selecting tra fish breeders, using tra fish breeding production techniques and transferring the techniques to the second tier.

The second tier includes provincial tra fish breed producing centres, companies’ tra fish breed nurseries, while the third-tier includes establishments that nurse tra fish from the newborn to fingerling stages.

The plan will upgrade the An Giang high-quality tra fish breed centre and establish three concentrated tra fish breed production areas in An Giang Province.

Four concentrated tra fish breed production areas in Đồng Tháp Province will also be set up.

In the Delta, there are 108 tra fish artificial reproduction establishments and 1,900 households that nurse newborn tra fish to the fingerling stage, mostly located in An Giang and Đồng Tháp provinces, and Cần Thơ City.

There are about 101,000 tra fish breeders (mature female/male) aged 6-7 years that produce fish fries in tra fish artificial reproduction establishments in the Delta, according to the Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 2.

The delta is now facing a shortage of tra fish fries because of unfavourable weather conditions and small-scale production.

The price of tra fish fries is at VNĐ45,000–50,000 a kilo for the kind of fish that produces about 30 fries a kilo, according to the Việt Nam Pangasius Association.

Early last year, the price for this type was VNĐ27,000–39,000 a kilo.

Read more at http://vietnamnews.vn/society/425374/delta-to-boost-tra-fish-quality.html#0T057VWmBxt0eZze.99

Việt Nam targets $40b farm exports

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam will focus on expanding the export market for agricultural products in the second quarter of this year, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hà Công Tuấn. Making a speech at the press conference in Hà Nội yesterday, Tuấn said agricultural products were among the seven solution packages conducted by the ministry to maintain growth since early this year, aiming to reach US$40-40.5 billion this year.

In the first quarter of this year, the country reached an estimated export turnover of $8.7 billion from agriculture, forestry and fisheries, marking a growth rate of 4.05 per cent. “This is the highest growth rate in the past 15 years. It’s an effort of the whole sector in directing production and an initial effect of restructuring agriculture, which links production with the trends of the market,” said Tuấn.

At the conference, local media also mentioned the US anti-dumping tax imposed on tra fish imported from Việt Nam and the possibility of the European Commission withdrawing the yellow card against off-shore seafood products of Việt Nam. The warning of the yellow card is part of the EC’s fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing worldwide.

Regarding the imposition of anti-dumping duties on tra fish, Deputy Director of Directorate of Fisheries Nguyễn Quang Hùng said this was an unreasonable action. “My directorate in collaboration with the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) are co-operating with businesses and other relevant sectors to appeal against this judgment,” said Hùng.

In the 13th administrative review (POR13), the US imposed an anti-dumping tax on Vietnamese tra fish five to six times higher than the previous tax, which was $0.69 per kilo.

According to VASEP, Vietnamese businesses are not dumping. The selling price of Vietnamese tra fish is cheaper than that of American fish because inputs such as labour and production conditions are cheaper than the US side. “The US’s decision is unilateral and unfair, not matching the rules of the World Trade Organisation. We do not exclude the possibility that we will seriously consider bringing this case to international arbitration,” said Tuấn.

In regard to the EC’s yellow card for the Vietnamese off-shore seafood, Tuấn said the ministry in co-ordination with relevant sectors would further improve legal framework, including the Fisheries Law which was passed by the National Assembly in 2017. “We have organised many missions to dialogue with other countries as well as strengthening patrol and surveillance of fishing vessels to prevent fishermen from fishing illegally in foreign waters,” said Tuấn. Tuấn said the sector had also co-operated with local authorities to instruct fishermen to strictly implement regulations on catching and traceability of seafood resources. “Not only that, we are directing with other items such as timber and forest products to ensure the traceability according to law,” added Tuấn.

Source: Vietnam News

Cần Thơ to build 700ha specialised fruit farm

HCM CITY — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta city of Cần Thơ plans to develop a 700ha specialised fruit growing area for export in Phong Điền District.

Located in Nhơn Nghĩa Commune, the area will be based on existing fruit orchards. The zoned area now has 477ha of mixed orchards which need to be improved.

Farmers are planting many types of fruits, including Burmese grape, mango, milk apple and durian in the mixed orchards.

The specialised fruit growing area will also have one or two key fruits.

The commune’s farmers are switching to Idol longan, which could become the area’s key fruit, besides milk apple and durian.

Đào Anh Dũng, deputy chairman of the Cần Thơ People’s Committee, said the establishment of the specialised fruit growing area would produce a large quantity of fruit to meet export demand.

It will also help increase income and improve the lives of farmers.

The area will be produce organic agricultural products under the most modern standards to meet world demand, he said.

Government agencies plan to invest in transport infrastructure, dyke and sluice gate systems for the area.

The area has a 7.6 km section located along the Cần Thơ River’s Ba Láng – Vàm Xáng section that is often eroded, affecting transport and agriculture production, according to the district’s People’s Committee.

Nguyễn Văn Sử, chairman of the district’s People’s Committee, said the district would work with the city’s departments and agencies to find stable outlets for the specialised fruit cultivation area.

The district’s People’s Committee and city agencies will determine the key fruits for the specialised fruit growing area, according to the district’s People’s Committee.

If the specialised fruit cultivation area grows longan, the district will identify the types of longan suited to domestic and foreign markets, it said.

The city has more than 17,120 ha of fruits with an annual yield of 98,000 tonnes.

Its fruit planting areas are mostly in Phong Điền District.

The city’s People’s Committee has called on companies to co-operate with farmers in producing and exporting fruits, especially longan, star apple and mango.

Read more at http://vietnamnews.vn/society/425581/can-tho-to-build-700ha-specialised-fruit-farm.html#wikKIkHTUVHHYg38.99

Sustainable agriculture project raises farmers’ profits by 14 per cent

CẦN THƠ—The Việt Nam-Sustainable Agriculture Transformation Project (VnSAT) in the Mekong Delta has helped raise farm profits by 14 per cent after two years of implementation, according to Đặng Minh Cường, the project’s deputy head.

Speaking at a recent conference held in Cần Thơ City by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Cường said the project had helped profits rise from VNĐ33.1 million (US$1,464) per ha to VNĐ37.1 million ($1,627) per ha.

Many companies have provided guaranteed outlets for 23,000 of the total 50,000 ha covered by the project.

Last year, more than 60,000 farmers have taken part in the VnSAT project and were trained in sustainable rice cultivation.

Forty-four farmers unions, associations and other farmer groups in the Mekong Delta region were given a total of $13.5 million in funds from the World Bank to buy equipment, materials, and other items.

However, Nguyễn Thanh Hùng, vice chairman of Đồng Tháp Province’s People’s Committee, said many farmers had not applied the cultivation and production techniques that had learned during the project.

Hùng said the project staff should try to raise this figure and encourage use of advanced machines.

The province is working with a company specialising in providing these machines such as a three-in-one machines that harvest, fertilise crops and sprays permitted chemicals on fields.

Through these machines, they have been able to reduce the quantity of rice variety from 70 kilogrammes to 80 kilogrammes per ha, compared to the targeted number of 30 to 40 kilogrammes, he added.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Lê Quốc Doanh said he agreed with the World Bank’s suggestion mechanise rice production.

From 2018 to 2020, regional authorities should focus on reaching the project targets so the Government can achieve results in its agricultural restructuring programme.

VnSAT began in December in 2015 in seven provinces: An Giang, Đồng Tháp, Hậu Giang, Kiên Giang, Long An, Sóc Trăng and Tiền Giang, as well as Cần Thơ City, and the five Central Highlands provinces of Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông, Gia Lai, Kon Tum and Lâm Đồng.

The project is expected to help increase the number of agricultural products with export value worth more than $1 billion, including rice, coffee, pepper, rubber, cashews, wood, fruit, tra fish, shrimp, and cassava.

With total capital of $301 million provided by the World Bank, the Vietnamese government and the private sector, the project aims to use advanced technologies in rice production on 200,000 ha for 140,000 farmers, raising profits by 30 per cent per ha.

It is estimated that the total added value for the entire region will be $60 million per ha.

In the Central Highlands region, the VnSAT project provided advanced technologies to 63,000 farmers for use on 69,000 ha.

The total added value is expected to be around $48 million to $50 million for each year from 2015 to 2020.

This year, VnSAT continued to offer training techniques in cultivation and production for farmers.

Their organisational staff of VnSAT will also be trained in administration, screening and evaluation methods.

Read more at http://vietnamnews.vn/society/425026/sustainable-agriculture-project-raises-farmers-profits-by-14-per-cent.html#H5LEXcBVp2zCTSw0.99

VN aids sustainable growth on Mekong

HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc will lead a Vietnamese delegation to attend the third Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit in Siem Reap, Cambodia, from April 4-5 at the invitation of Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen. The event, themed “Joint Efforts and Partnership towards the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Mekong”, will create an opportunity for countries to review the operation of the MRC over the past four years and work to realise sustainable development goals.

Việt Nam has actively participated in regional and international organisations such as the MRC, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Forum. This stands alongside participation in the United Nations (UN), the World Water Forum (WWF), the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the International Rivers (IR). The country also has enhanced co-operation with department partners such as the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to enhance effective management of water resources in the Mekong River.

Việt Nam hosted the second MRC in HCM City in April 2014. In 2015, the country held a panel discussion on water security within the framework of the 132nd Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly (IPU-132) in March, and an international workshop calling for joint actions in water resources management as part of the Asia-Europe Meeting in June that year.

Within the MRC framework, Việt Nam has worked with member countries to push the MRC Joint Committee to issue a statement on prior consultation for the Pak Beng hydropower project, calling on the Laos government to step up measures to mitigate the cross-border impacts of the project.

With the support of Lao and Cambodian experts, Việt Nam completed a study on the impacts of Mekong mainstream hydropower on the Mekong Delta in 2015 and joint research on sustainable development and management of the Mekong River basin in 2017.

In April 2014, Việt Nam became the 35th member of the 1997 UN Convention on Non-Navigation Uses of International Watercourses. Việt Nam was the first country in the MRC to join the convention, which came into force in August 2014.

Việt Nam is currently persuading other ASEAN member nations to join the convention to strengthen legal mechanisms to facilitate the management and sustainable development of water resources in the Mekong River. The country has also promoted the protection and effective use of water resources in regional cooperation mechanisms such as the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), the US Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), the Mekong-Japan Co-operation (MJ), the Mekong-Korea Co-operation and the Mekong-Lancang Co-operation.

The 4,800km-long Mekong River flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Việt Nam. Its basin spreads over 795,000 square kilometres with 65 million people in the four countries of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Việt Nam living in its proximity.

The Mekong Committee was established in 1956 under the auspices of the UN to co-ordinate aid and manage resources in the river basin. In 1995, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Việt Nam signed an Agreement on the Co-operation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River and set up the MRC as a replacement for the Mekong Committee.

The MRC holds its summit every four years. The first MRC summit was held in Hua Hin, Thailand in 2010 and the second one took place in HCM City, Việt Nam in 2014.

Source: Vietnam News

Sustainable agriculture project raises farmers’ profits by 14 per cent

The Việt Nam-Sustainable Agriculture Transformation Project (VnSAT) in the Mekong Delta has helped raise farm profits by 14 per cent after two years of implementation, according to Đặng Minh Cường, the project’s deputy head. Speaking at a recent conference held in Cần Thơ City by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Cường said the project had helped profits rise from VNĐ33.1 million (US$1,464) per ha to VNĐ37.1 million ($1,627) per ha. Many companies have provided guaranteed outlets for 23,000 of the total 50,000 ha covered by the project. Last year, more than 60,000 farmers have taken part in the VnSAT project and were trained in sustainable rice cultivation. Forty-four farmers unions, associations and other farmer groups in the Mekong Delta region were given a total of $13.5 million in funds from the World Bank to buy equipment, materials, and other items. However, Nguyễn Thanh Hùng, vice chairman of Đồng Tháp Province’s People’s Committee, said many farmers had not applied the cultivation and production techniques that had learned during the project. Hùng said the project staff should try to raise this figure and encourage use of advanced machines. The province is working with a company specialising in providing these machines such as a three-in-one machines that harvest, fertilise crops and sprays permitted chemicals on fields. Through these machines, they have been able to reduce the quantity of rice variety from 70 kilogrammes to 80 kilogrammes per ha, compared to the targeted number of 30 to 40 kilogrammes, he added. Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Lê Quốc Doanh said he agreed with the World Bank’s suggestion mechanise rice production. From 2018 to 2020, regional authorities should focus on reaching the project targets so the Government can achieve results in its agricultural restructuring programme. VnSAT began in December in 2015 in seven provinces: An Giang, Đồng Tháp, Hậu Giang, Kiên Giang, Long An, Sóc Trăng and Tiền Giang, as well as Cần Thơ City, and the five Central Highlands provinces of Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông, Gia Lai, Kon Tum and Lâm Đồng. The project is expected to help increase the number of agricultural products with export value worth more than $1 billion, including rice, coffee, pepper, rubber, cashews, wood, fruit, tra fish, shrimp, and cassava. With total capital of $301 million provided by the World Bank, the Vietnamese government and the private sector, the project aims to use advanced technologies in rice production on 200,000 ha for 140,000 farmers, raising profits by 30 per cent per ha. It is estimated that the total added value for the entire region will be $60 million per ha. In the Central Highlands region, the VnSAT project provided advanced technologies to 63,000 farmers for use on 69,000 ha. The total added value is expected to be around $48 million to $50 million for each year from 2015 to 2020. This year, VnSAT continued to offer training techniques in cultivation and production for farmers. Their organisational staff of VnSAT will also be trained in administration, screening and evaluation methods.