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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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More than 14,300 new COVID-19 infections confirmed in Vietnam on Sunday

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A total of 14,314 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Vietnam on Sunday, bringing the total national tally to 1,309,092, according to the Ministry of Health.

More than 14,300 new COVID-19 infections confirmed in Vietnam on Sunday

A mobile COVID-19 treatment station is set up at Minh Phu General Clinic in Soc Son district in Hanoi

Of the new cases, two were imported ones while another 14,312 cases were detected in 61 provinces and cities nationwide. A total of 8,142 locally transmitted cases were found in the community outside of quarantined areas or locked down ones.
HCM City continued to record the highest number of infections with 1,491, followed by Can Tho with 1,132, Soc Trang 775, Ba Ria – Vung Tau 710 and Dong Thap 690.

The capital city of Hanoi reported 400 new cases.

Other cases were detected in Binh Thuan (648), Ben Tre (630), Binh Phuoc (547), Vinh Long (544), Khanh Hoa (465), Ca Mau (444), Binh Dinh (428), Bac Lieu (398), Kien Giang (394), Dong Nai (355), Binh Duong (355), An Giang (350), Thua Thien Hue (305), Hau Giang (295), Tien Giang (257), Tra Vinh (212), Ha Giang (160), Bac Ninh (113), Dak Nong (102), Thanh Hoa (94), Hai Phong (91), Long An (90), Hai Duong (88), Lam Dong (84), Quang Ngai (81), Da Nang (78), Ninh Thuan (75), Quang Nam (63), Quang Ninh (62), Gia Lai (61), Hung Yen (60), Nam Dinh (47), Phu Tho (45), Thai Nguyen (35), Vinh Phuc (34), Phu Yen (31), Thai Binh (28), Quang Binh (25), Hoa Binh (23), Yen Bai (21), Tuyen Quang (16), Kon Tum (13), Bac Giang (12), Ha Tinh (11), Lang Son (11), Lao Cai (9), Son La (9), Ninh Binh (5), Ha Nam (5), Cao Bang (5), Quang Tri (4), Lai Chau (2), Dien Bien (1) and Bac Kan (1).

In the last seven days, Vietnam reported on average 13,982 new cases daily.

On Sunday, the country reported 199 deaths related to COVID-19. The death toll has now hit 26,260, accounting for two per cent of total infections.

According to the Ministry of Health’s report, a further 1,711 patients were given the all-clear, taking the total number of recoveries to 1,009,277.

A total of 6,845 patients nationwide are in serious condition, with 683 requiring invasive ventilation and 15 on life support (ECMO).

Until now, the country has injected over 127.353 million doses of vaccine, with more than 54.1 million people now fully inoculated.

Source: VNS

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/society/more-than-14-300-new-covid-19-infections-confirmed-in-vietnam-on-sunday-798646.html

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Public hospitals in HCM City set aside beds for COVID-19 patients

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Doctors at Bình Thạnh No.1 Field Hospital in HCM City treat COVID-19 patients. VNA/ Photo

HCM CITY — The HCM City Department of Health on Thursday asked all public hospitals in the city to set aside at least 10 per cent of hospital beds for treatment of COVID-19 patients amid a surge in hospitalisations and deaths and the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Hospitals in the city have been asked to prepare medicine and medical devices for the clinical management of COVID-19.

Designated isolation areas at hospitals are being shifted to COVID-19 treatment units, the department said in a document sent to leaders of hospitals.

Hospitals have also been asked to restructure their operation to make it fit with requirements for COVID-19 treatment, and maintain health check-ups and treatment for other diseases.

Tier-one general hospitals and specialised hospitals in pediatrics and infectious diseases have been asked to set up COVID-19 intensive care units to treat severe cases. A COVID-19 department should be established at these hospitals, it said.

The department has designated nine major hospitals in the city to receive severe cases from lower-tier hospitals, including Chợ Rẫy, Thống Nhất, HCM City Medical University, Huế Central Hospital in HCM City, Gia Định People, People 115, Hospital for Tropical Diseases, 175 Military Hospital, and Phước Lộc field hospital.

Four hospitals – Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Trưng Vương, An Bình and Củ Chi District hospitals – which fully shifted to COVID-19 treatment have maintained operation since the city lifted the lockdown on October 1.

Six hospitals which partly shifted to COVID-19 treatment, including Municipal Children Hospital, Eastern People Military Hospital, and Phạm Ngọc Thạch, Từ Dũ, Hùng Vương and Nguyễn Tri Phương hospitals, have also maintained operation.

These 10 hospitals are operating with 4,300 beds set aside for COVID-19 patients.

Thirteen city-level field hospitals with 22,000 beds, 16 district-level field hospitals with 8,000 beds, and 65 health facilities with 9,000 beds in the city are offering COVID-19 treatment.

The Department of Health has asked hospital leaders to allocate medical workers to provide health care and treatment for COVID-19 patients.

A total of 86,000 people with COVID-19 are under quarantine and treatment in the city, including more than 66,000 people receiving home-based care.

More than 14,000 patients with moderate and severe symptoms are being treated at hospitals in the city. —

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/1092012/public-hospitals-in-hcm-city-set-aside-beds-for-covid-19-patients.html

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Woman arrested after being wanted for 16 years in Vietnam

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Police in Vietnam have arrested a woman who had been at large for nearly 16 years after being convicted of a drug-related crime.

The Department of Public Security in southern Kien Giang Province confirmed on Sunday it had apprehended Le Thi Kim Tu, 41.

Police investigation showed that Tu and her husband were caught red-handed selling drugs in Ho Chi Minh City in December 2001.

The couple lived with their child in Hoc Mon District at the time.

In mid-2002, Tu was sentenced to seven years in prison while her husband got six years for illegally trading narcotics.

The woman was allowed to postpone her jail term as she needed to take care of her child, who was under 36 months old.

She was thus taken to Kien Giang Province so that authorities could supervise her during this period.

When Tu was ready to serve her prison sentence in 2005, officers found that she had run away from her place of residence.

The woman had been wanted by Kien Giang police since then.

Over the past 16 years, Tu had been living in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang after changing her name.

She had a romantic relationship with a local man and eventually lived with him and his family.

Following a recent argument, Tu attempted to attack her boyfriend’s mother with a knife.

Local police intervened in the incident and summoned Tu to their station for a working session.

Officers in Tien Giang eventually discovered Tu’s true identity and reported the case to their counterparts in Kien Giang Province.

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20211206/woman-arrested-after-being-wanted-for-16-years-in-vietnam/64572.html

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