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Nature-friendly farmers in the Delta



A farmer waters vegetables in Dong Thap – PHOTO: LE HOANG VU

Over the years, the Mekong Delta has fallen victim to drought and salinity invasion which cause great damages for the local people. However, there are some rays of hope. During the past five years, facing the shortage of freshwater in the dry season, some farmers in Dong Thap—a province of the Mekong River—have taken regulatory measures in agricultural production to adapt to climate change in a “nature-friendly” approach.

Many models of water-saving agricultural practices have been underway, contributing partly to reducing the volume of water used, greenhouse gas emissions and production costs in unfavorable weather conditions. Local farmers also practice alternate wetting and drying techniques, the use of in-field concrete irrigation systems, smart fertilizers, IoT (Internet of things) in irrigation pump system management.

This model was pioneered by My Dong 2 Agricultural Service Cooperative in Thap Muoi District of Dong Thap Province. According to Ngo Phuoc Dung, director of My Dong 2 Cooperative, to cultivate rice, farmers had to use a significant amount of water for irrigation. However, rice paddies do not have to be submerged in water all the time of the growth process. There are times, rice paddies can develop very well in a dry field. Therefore, applying alternate wetting and drying techniques and watering by concrete troughs may help save the volume of water used.

“Compared to the technique of flooded fields using pumped water, the new farming practice helps reduce 30% of water and also 20-30% of electricity costs. These figures represent not only economic benefit but also a message to the community that we farmers are making a change to be more responsible to the environment,” said Mr. Dung.

Aside from rice, water-saving models are also integrated in the cases of vegetables, flowers and fruit trees across the localities in Dong Thap. By the end of last year, the total area with the new economical irrigation system had reached 24,299 hectares versus 21,506 hectares in 2019. In addition, other agricultural models have been applied, such as net houses and smart water-saving irrigation systems along with training programs for farmers. From these State-supported models, quite a few farming households have taken in the integrated fish-rice or lotus-fish systems, which  yield a high economic efficiency, and, at the same time, use freshwater rationally.

During a recent meeting with leaders of Dong Thap Province discussing the impacts of climate change on agriculture in the region, Assoc. Prof. Le Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Institute for Climate Change of Can Tho University, stressed on the necessity of being “nature-friendly” in cultivation. “Climate change is inevitable and we need to come face to face with it,” said Mr. Tuan. “However, rather than seeing it as a confrontation, we should adapt ourselves to be more nature-friendly.”

According to Mr. Tuan, in the past, although climate change grew more extreme, the people in some provinces have come up with adaptive and effective agricultural practice models. For instance, the integrated rice-shrimp system in the coastal provinces, discharge dike system in Dong Thap to lure natural fish instead of building dikes for the third rice crop and the integrated lotus-fish or lotus-tourism systems. “To be harmonious with nature, people in the Mekong Delta have come up with new measures,” said Mr. Tuan. “The crucial point is we need to change our mindset about climate change to live in peace with nature.”

What’s more, experts say facing climate change which is ravaging the world, commodity production has to comply with environmental protection criteria, which is also one of the top binding regulations on imports under new-generation free trade agreements (FTA) singed by Vietnam.

That is how farmers in Dong Thap are going more “nature-friendly” to introduce their products to the world market.



High logistic costs hinder Delta agriculture exports




High cost of air transport and the inability to preserve fresh produce for a long time are among the logistic challenges that the Mekong Delta is facing. – Photo

MEKONG DELTA – Agriculture exports from the Mekong Delta are facing logistical challenges, affecting their competitiveness overseas.

Đồng Văn Thanh, chairman of Hậu Giang Province People’s Committee, said the Mekong Delta exports millions of tonnes of agriculture products every year but the region is facing many logistical choke-points.

The region is lacking key logistics hubs and storage areas for empty containers and products at ports. Goods have to be transported through many areas before reaching HCM City for export, which increases the cost.

Ngô Tường Vy, deputy director of Chánh Thu Fruit Export and Import Co. Ltd in Bến Tre Province, said that the cost of air transport of fresh fruits to the US and European markets have increased greatly over the years.

For example, the cost for air shipping fresh fruits to the US used to be around US$3.5 per kilo a few years ago, but now has risen to $6 per kilo.

This is affecting their competitiveness overseas and reducing the amount of fruit shipped there.

However, since preservation technology for many fruit products is not good enough, they have to rely on air transport.

The cost of ocean transport of fruit is 15 times cheaper than air, so better preservation technology to maintain quality on longer container trips is important, she said.

Phạm Tiến Hoài, general director of Hanh Nguyen Logistics, said that the logistics costs of Việt Nam’s agricultural products are high, usually accounting for around 30 per cent of their final prices, so they struggle to compete with goods from other suppliers such as China, Thailand and Indonesia.

Võ Thanh Phong, general director of Hậu Giang Maritime Service Co.Ltd , said the Government needs to continue its effort to improve and enlarge waterways in the Mekong Delta so that large vessels can easily travel through different regions, reducing transport time and costs.

Lê Tiến Châu, provincial party secretary of Hậu Giang, said that for 2021 – 2026 the province will invest around VNĐ18 trillion ($777.99 million) to improve traffic infrastructure and region connectivity.

Every year the Mekong Delta accounts for 90 per cent of the country’s rice exports, and 70 per cent of fruit exports. –


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Danang suspends BRT project due to its ineffectiveness



A BRT bus is seen at a bus station in Hanoi. The government of Danang City has decided to suspend its BRT project as the investment in the project has yet to bring about social advantages for the coastal central city – PHOTO: TPO

HCMC – The government of Danang City has decided to suspend its bus rapid transit (BRT) project as the investment in the project has yet to bring about social advantages for the coastal central city.

Huynh Anh Vu, deputy director of the Danang City Management Board of Prioritized Infrastructure Investment Projects, which is the project’s developer and operator, confirmed that the management board had reached a consensus with the World Bank, which serves as the lender of the project, on its suspension.

Instead, the management board will focus on completing works related to the development of subsidized bus routes in the city, Vu said, as reported by Lao Dong newspaper.

The decision is considered as the right move as the city’s transport infrastructure system still remains inadequate and measures taken to encourage the use of public means of transport among local residents have not proved effective.

The move was strongly backed by the locals and some of them cited the examples of other localities where trillions of dong were poured into BRT projects but they had failed to address traffic congestion and caused losses to the State budget.

In 2013, the Government approved a master project to develop Danang sustainably with five components: improving the rainwater and drainage system, piloting the BRT system, developing key urban roads, enhancing the capacity and supporting the execution of projects and works transferred from prioritized infrastructure investment projects.

The master project was expected to be completed in June this year, but it has been 84% complete to date with US$185 million spent. Specifically, the BRT project has been 33% complete, while the remaining components have basically been finalized.


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Some coastal hotels report full occupancy as tourists are on the rise



Tourists play outdoor games at a resort. Many hotels in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province have reported full occupancy as the number of tourists is on the rise – PHOTO: LDO

HCMC – Many hotels in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province have reported full occupancy as the number of tourists is on the rise, though the holidays of April 30 and May 1 are still a while away, signaling good news for the tourism sector.

Nguyen Van Tuan, manager of Long Hai Hotel in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, told Lao Dong Online that over the past one year, the hotel saw few guests and its highest occupancy rate at a mere 20%. However, for some days last week, the number of tourists who booked rooms at the hotel surged, with the occupancy rate at 90%.

For April 17 and 18, the hotel is fully booked, and it is the first time since the coronavirus pandemic that the hotel is seeing some 100 rooms in total fully booked, Tuan said, adding that the hotel was fully booked three weeks ago for the Reunification Day, April 30.

Last weekend, many guests fully booked rooms at Vietsovpetro Ho Tram, said a representative of the resort.

Many hotels at sea tourist destinations near HCMC such as Ho Tram, Long Hai, Vung Tau and Mui Ne are seeing the number of guests soar on weekends.

Do Van Thuc, deputy director of Dat Viet Tour, said that the firm had received rising tour bookings on weekends.

Recently, Dat Viet Tour has been seeing an average 1,500 guests book weekend tours to the sea each week, some 200 kilometers from HCMC, he said.

Apart from this, since March, when the coronavirus outbreak was brought under control in Vietnam, Alo Limo, a transport firm, has become busier on weekends, said Le Gia Thanh Tam, a representative of Alo Limo.

Over the past few weeks, each week has seen some 10-15 groups of tourists book limousines for their trips, mainly to Dalat, Phan Thiet and Vung Tau, Tam said.


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