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Efforts made to bring a special Mid-Autumn Festival for kids amid COVID-19 pandemic

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A representative of HCM City’s Youth Union wears the costume of Hằng Nga, a traditional character of the Mid-Autumn Festival, as she presents gifts for children of migrant workers in dormitories in HCM City. VNA/ Photo

HCM CITY – Many children in HCM City, the country’s coronavirus epicentre, have enjoyed a special Mid-Autumn Festival this year despite social distancing regulations thanks to joint efforts of authorities, organisations and volunteers.

In the past three days, the dormitories of migrant workers in Sơn Kỳ, Tây Thạnh wards in Tân Phú District; Tân Nhựt, An Phú Tây wards in Bình Chánh District; and Hiệp Phước Industrial Zone in Nhà Bè District have been full of the sounds of happiness with children’s laughter.

Youngsters celebrated their Mid-Autumn Festival with mooncakes, milk, small boxes of candy and biscuits, as well colourful paper lanterns. These are in gift packages for the full-moon festival local authorities, youth unions and benefactors, in the costumes of Hằng Nga and Uncle Cuội, the two traditional characters of the festival, presented to children in the city’s pandemic-hit areas.

Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Thu, a migrant worker in Sơn Kỳ Ward in Tân Phú District said it had been a long time since she last heard the sound of children laughing.

“I thought everybody was busy putting the pandemic under control and would ignore the children’s festival,” she said.

Tuyết Mai, another migrant worker in An Phú Ward in Thủ Đức City said the pro-longed social distancing has put her family and neighbours in serious financial difficulties. 

“Having the gifts on this occasion is really meaningful and special for us. It has brought joy to the children and made us feel warm in these really hard days,” she said.

The city’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs showed that the department, in co-operation with the city’s Fatherland Front Committee and the Youth Union, has presented gift sets worth VNĐ300,000 (US$12) each to disadvantaged children in seven social welfare centres and 40 dormitories in the city.

Trần Thị Kim Thanh, head of the department’s Office for Child Protection, Care and Gender Equality said this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival was very special due to the complicated development of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing.

She said the department as well as local authorities, mobilised teams to visit and give moon cakes and lanterns to children in special circumstances, children of migrant workers who were seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and children in field hospitals and quarantine sites.

The department also called upon organisations and individuals to donate online learning equipment and textbooks to children to help them get back to school, she said.

Under the programme jointly held by the city’s Youth Union, the city’s Fatherland Front Committee, the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, and the Hồ Chí Minh City Women’s Union, a total of 5,000 gifts, 1,300 sets of textbooks, learning equipment, and 50 scholarships worth nearly VNĐ2.5 billion ($109,120) have been presented to disadvantaged children and those who are receiving treatment against COVID-19 in the city.

Văn Thị Bạch Tuyết, deputy head of the National Assembly delegation of HCM City said during her visit to the city’s Children’s Hospital 2 and the Field Hospital No11 that this Mid-Autumn Festival, children would not celebrate as usual due to the social distancing regulations, but joint efforts of social organisations, charity groups and benefactors have contributed to caring for disadvantaged children, helping them to overcome this difficult period.

The Khăn Quàng Đỏ newspaper collaborated with the Sharing group, and presented gifts to 1,000 children with cancer, HIV, and children infected with Agent Orange, as well as orphans in the city.

A further 5,000 gifts were given to children infected with COVID-19 and children whose parents are infected with COVID-19. The gifts were donated by the City Party Committee’s Mass Mobilisation Department, the Vietnam Youth Social Work Centers, and the Vietnam Young Doctors Association.

Dr Phương Vũ, from the Social Work Department of City Children’s Hospital, said many parents who were taking care of children at the hospital could not hide their tears of happiness when seeing the bright smiles after days of fighting with illness.

Ý Ngân, a migrant worker at Tân Thuận Processing Zone said she felt so touched seeing her five-year-old son have a fun time and have parties with moon cakes and fruits with volunteers at the Field Hospital in District 7.

Vân Trung, who works as a builder, said he and his child just came to the field hospital for ten days with so many concerns and worries, but the child had a very happy time this Mid-Autumn Festival.

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/1035380/efforts-made-to-bring-a-special-mid-autumn-festival-for-kids-amid-covid-19-pandemic.html

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Islanders encouraged to take up organic farming

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Garlic and onion farms on the Lý Sơn Islands, off the coast of Quảng Ngãi Province. The islands have been turning to organic agriculture for more sustainable development. Photo courtesy of Lê Xuân Thọ 

LÝ SƠN ISLANDS — Organically grown crops have been designated a key part of sustainable development on the Lý Sơn Islands, 30km off the coast of central Quảng Ngãi Province. Lý Sơn garlic and onions are popular throughout the country. 

However, the transfer to organic farming faces hurdles from low productivity, a lack of policies supporting farmer-business partnerships and poor protection of the Lý Sơn garlic brand, which is discouraging farmers from organic farming.

Although earning Geographical Indication (GI) status, organic garlic and purple onion farms occupy less than one per cent of the islands’ total 330ha of farmland. 

Farmers on the islands are still hesitant to transfer from traditional agricultural practices to organic farming, fearing low productivity, high production costs and an unstable market.

 

Farmers begin a new garlic crop in Lý Sơn Islands. The Islands’ agriculture will be going ‘green’ for a better environment and income in the coming years. Photo courtesy of Phạm Văn Công 

Phạm Văn Công, CEO and founder of the DORI Joint Stock Company, said only 10 farmers over 3ha are have started organic garlic farming since 2016.

Công has seen success in processing garlic into high-value dried roots, wine and essential oil products, five years after starting to trade.

“It takes at least three years to clean the chemically contaminated farmland with bio-fertiliser, manure, humus and grass, and absorbing ‘green’ nutrition,” he explained.

“Local farmers do not have enough financial reserves to last the first years of preparation for organic-based farming,” he said.

Công also said that strong farmer-business partnerships have not yet been built to make organic farms larger on the islands.

 

Garlic growing on Lý Sơn Islands. Photo courtesy of Lê Xuân Thọ 

A report from the islands’ People’s Committee said farmers produce 2,500 tonnes of garlic and 6,500 tonnes of purple onion per year, with an annual revenue of VNĐ200 billion ($8.8 million).

Chairwoman of the Lý Sơn Islands District People’s Committee, Phạm Thị Hương, said traditional farm produce (garlic and purple onion) does not have a stable market price due to poor connections between the islands and mainland.

Hương said garlic is usually sold from VNĐ80,000 to VNĐ150,000 per kilo, but can go down to a mere VNĐ30,000. 

She said the COVID-19 pandemic has kept more than 100 tonnes of garlic on the island, and the price offered was below VNĐ30,000 per kilo. 

A few years ago, the islands original garlic suffered unfair competition from garlic produced in other provinces like Khánh Hòa and Bình Thuận.

 

Garlic roots from an organic farm on the Lý Sơn Islands of Quảng Ngãi Province. Garlic is one of the most famous exports from the islands. Photo courtesy of Dori 

Green change

The islands, known as the Kingdom of Garlic in Việt Nam, have around 22,000 inhabitants, of whom 73 per cent make their living from farming garlic and spring onions, alongside fishing.

Farmers grow garlic on terrain that formed from volcanic eruptions 25 to 30 million years ago, creating the special scent that the Lý Sơn garlic is famous for.

Traditional farming methods rely on chemicals and the over-use of natural resources, though islanders have gradually begun to recognise the dangers of environmental pollution, exhausted soil and high saline intrusion. 

Local farmers on the islands have been encouraged to apply safe farming techniques that use bio-fertiliser and bio-pesticide, rather than continuing to exploit coral sand and basalt soil as before. 

Compost livestock waste, green leaves and seaweed are used to create ‘green’ soil bases that replace these basalt and coral sand mixtures.

The first ‘green’ crop only collected 30 per cent of the traditional capacity, but yields doubled after the second and third years. Organically produced garlic also fetches a higher market price. 

Đặng Quang Trọng, who developed a 400sq.m organic farm, said each ‘green’ garlic kilo was sold for between VNĐ250,000 ($10.8) and VNĐ350,000 ($15.2).

Traditional farming requires at least 40 tonnes of chemical fertiliser and leads to 10,200cu.m of farm soil being dumped for every garlic crop produced. The 3,000sq.m dumpsite for agricultural waste on the islands was overloaded. The cost of cleaning the chemically contaminated farm soil stands at VNĐ20 billion each year, a report from the islands’ committee unveiled.

On top of this, farmers often mix sand from coastal coral reefs and basalt dug up from defunct volcanoes, which has led to serious coastal erosion and damage to the ancient volcanoes – one of the biggest tourist attractions on the island. 

Võ Trí Thời, an official from the district’s Peoples’ Committee, said the islands plan to develop 100ha of VietGAP farms that promote using compost and bio-fertiliser, instead of chemical agricultural material.

Organic farming trailblazer, Phạm Văn Công, explained that farmers need financial guarantees and supportive policies from local authorities to help them through the first three years of organic farming.

 

Garlic products, including wine, dried garlic and black garlic, on sale at a shop in Quảng Ngãi Province. Photo courtesy of Dori

“Farmers can not find support to help them survive the low output of the initial three years of changing from chemical-based agriculture to organic farming. Organic farm produce also needs sales promotions, brand protection and respect in the market,” Công said.

He agreed that organic agriculture is not easy, but success is still ahead.

“I do hope more farmers will follow our organic demonstrations to turn the islands green.”

The islands have been designed as a ‘zero’ carbon and eco-tour site, through the promotion of renewable energy projects like solar, wind, tide and desalination, which turns seawater into freshwater. —  

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/1063223/islanders-encouraged-to-take-up-organic-farming.html

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Residents booked for violating pandemic prevention rules on Ho Chi Minh City’s downtown pedestrian street

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Many people have been booked for violating pandemic prevention and control measures as they hang out with their friends along Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street in Ho Chi Minh City.

Residents flocked to the Nguyen Hue promenade in downtown District 1 on Thursday evening to have a walk, get some fresh air, and chat with friends, according to the observation of Tien Phong (Youth) newspaper reporters.

Many of them parked their motorbikes on the sidewalk to have a chat and grab a bite, but did not follow pandemic response measures including wearing face masks in public and keeping a safe distance.

At around 7:30 pm, a group of district-level police officers patrolled the street and booked dozens of people for wrong parking and violating pandemic prevention and control regulations.

Several violators did not cooperate at first but eventually had to accept administrative fines after the officers provided the evidence of their offenses.

In one of the cases, L.V.D., 25, was booked for failure to wear a face mask in public places and illegal parking.

As D. denied his wrongdoings, an officer showed the video footage of him pulling the face mask down to his chin while talking to his friend.

The offender had no other choice but to sign the violation record, facing fines worth VND1-3 million (US$44-132) for failure to wear face masks in public and VND200,000-300,000 ($8-13) for illegal parking.

Residents are booked for parking their motorbikes on the roadway along Nguyen Hue Walking Street in Ho Chi Minh City, October 21, 2021. Photo: D.T. / Tien Phong

Residents are booked for parking their motorbikes on the roadway along Nguyen Hue Walking Street in Ho Chi Minh City, October 21, 2021. Photo: D.T. / Tien Phong

According to Major Dinh Tien Dung, deputy head of District 1’s traffic and order police unit, many people did not put on face masks or wore them improperly.

They only put on one when they saw police officers approaching, Dung continued.

“We decided to use cameras to film their violations from afar so that they won’t be able to deny their wrongdoings,” he said.

A young man pulls down his face mask while walking on Nguyen Hue Street in Ho Chi Minh City, October 21, 2021 in this supplied photo.

A young man pulls down his face mask while walking on Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street in Ho Chi Minh City, October 21, 2021 in this supplied photo.

Major Dung added that his unit had booked more than 200 of such violations on Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street since the beginning of the week.

Ho Chi Minh City has been the hardest-hit locality since the fourth outbreak began on April 27, with over 422,200 local infections.

The city had imposed social distancing measures at various levels since May 31 before loosening multiple restrictions on October 1, because most of its adult population had been vaccinated with at least one dose.

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20211022/residents-booked-for-violating-pandemic-prevention-rules-on-ho-chi-minh-citys-downtown-pedestrian-street/63726.html

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Ministry asks localities to increase inter-provincial passenger transport

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Coaches at Gia Lâm station in Hà Nội’s Long Biên District. —VNA/ Photo 

HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Transport has issued a document asking People’s Committees of cities and provinces to coordinate on the implementation of temporary guidelines on transport activities.

The measures are to ensure safe and flexible adaptation to and effective control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has issued Resolution No.128/NQ-CP on temporary regulations on safe and flexible adaptation to and effective control of COVID-19. To implement the resolution, the Health Ministry has promulgated temporary medical guidance and the Transport Ministry has also released temporary guidelines on transport activities in the five areas of land, inland waterway, maritime, railway and aviation. 

Therefore, to ensure smooth and concerted transport activities, People’s Committees of cities and provinces were asked to direct local agencies and units to follow the ministry’s guidelines, and instruct departments of transport to increase passenger volume on fixed intra-provincial and inter-provincial routes licensed by the provincial authorities.

The ministry also suggested localities resume other routes depending on the local level of pandemic risk, while striving to maintain from 10 per cent to a maximum 50 per cent of licensed trips per month in line with requirements in the temporary guidelines.

In a report reviewing passenger transport activities on fixed routes during one week of resumption from October 13-18, the ministry said authorities of 48 provinces and cities had allowed the resumption of inter-provincial routes, while in 15 other localities, the transport departments had submitted plans to resume routes to the municipal/provincial authorities. —

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/1063729/ministry-asks-localities-to-increase-inter-provincial-passenger-transport.html

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