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Quality breeds aiding rural families



Frequently hit by natural disasters, many households in the northern province of Nam Dinh have been able to have better livelihoods thanks to rearing groupers – a type of fishery product with high economic effectiveness – 

and planting mangroves to protect locals from natural disasters.

Quality breeds aiding rural families
Some households have received 1,000 grouper breeds for free through the scheme.

These days Pham Ngoc Nhan, 56, are preparing to catch groupers that he is raising on his project supported 2,000 square metre pond. The fish, about 1.35 tonnes in volume, are expected to bring about just over VND209 million ($9,000) to his four-member family.

“We will catch the groupers before Lunar New Year. Besides the money to be earned from them, we will also catch shrimp and crabs that are also raised at the pond together with the groupers. The money from shrimp and crab sales is estimated to be about VND60 million ($2,600),” Nhan told VIR.

The total sum of about VND269 million ($11,700) will be the largest that Nhan’s family have ever earned, because usually the sum hovers around VND100 million ($4,350) per year due to low-quality grouper breeds. In fact, the family, which has been engaging in raising groupers for eight years, was introduced in August 2019 with a fish-shrimp integrated farming model by a component backed by the Green Climate Fund (GCF). This component is part of a wider project to improve the resilience of coastal communities to climate change in Vietnam, funded jointly by the GCF, the Vietnamese government, and the United Nations Development Programme.

Under this scheme, each household like Nhan’s was provided with 1,000 free-of-charge grouper breeds, which are of high quality, along with technical training as well.

Previously, the amount of such breeds was put out to tender by the Project Management Unit of Nam Dinh Province to select a reputable contractor with experience in high quality breeding. Through inspection, the quantity and quality are met, ensuring the conditions for rearing. 

Improving livelihoods

Nhan’s family lives in Nghia Hai, a coastal commune of Nghia Hung District in the northern province of Nam Dinh. Nghia Hai boasts about 80ha of fishing ponds involving the participation of over 70 households and located at the commune’s Con Xanh area.

However, 11 of these households with a total of 2.2ha fish pond, including Nhan’s were in August 2019 provided with fish-shrimp integrated farming model by the project. They feel happy as the high-quality breeds received and the technical knowledge taken from the training courses can help them improve livelihoods.

“With the 1,000 grouper breeds from the project, we also bought another 1,000 breeds. Besides that, we also raise shrimp in the pond,” said farmer Vu Van De, 38, who owns a 1.6ha fish-pond. Last week he caught the fish and sold them to the market, earning over VND200 million ($8,700), also the highest income for a grouper crop since he began the business a few years ago.

“One of the reasons is that the quality of the grouper breeders provided by the project is far better than that of the same breeds sold in the market,” De told VIR. “We can use the money to reinvest into the business, with part of it earmarked to buy a new motorbike.”

In another case, Dinh Van Thai, 60, was also provided by the project with 1,000 grouper breeds. “Never had I seen such a good type of breed. The groupers have been growing very fast, with their health better than that of other ordinary groupers. They seldom suffer from diseases.”

Thai owns one hectare of grouper pond, in which a reasonable amount of shrimp are also raised. It is expected that when they are sold, they will bring hundreds of millions of VND to his family, which has been engaging in the fish trade for decades.

In fact, the coexistence of groupers and shrimp in these ponds means a miniature “circular” economy, in which shrimp will deal with all waste from the other fish. “It is an eco-circle. If there is no shrimp raised together with groupers, the water would become polluted,” Nhan said.

According to the Project Management Unit in Nam Dinh, this integrated farming model clearly show an enhancement in both quality and yield of fish and shrimps raised together. The success of this model in Nghia Hai Commune brings an opportunity for coastal farmers with about 20 per cent higher income generated from a same area of fish pond.

Previously, the project beneficiaries used to catch fish at areas where there were some long-standing mangroves. However, after the areas of the forests began to be expanded with newly-planted mangrove species under another initiative from the GCF project, such households were affected in terms of livelihoods as they could not fish in the area any longer. They have since received support as grouper breeds from the project.

Quality breeds aiding rural families
Mangroves help protect coastal communities from some sea impacts.

Regeneration of mangroves

Among the effects of climate change, sea level rises and severe typhoons pose the greatest threat to the stability of human settlements along coastlines. In Nam Dinh, Nghia Hung District is a coastal one often hit seriously by storms directly coming from the sea. Over a month ago, a storm attacked the district, eating up a large part of the coast lined with casuarina trees planted a long time ago to keep land from erosion.

Many trees have been swept away, with sandy areas already depressed into the sea, and strong waves threatening to continue eating up the land and smashing down houses and gardens of locals whose livelihood depends on fishery activities. As reported, the recent storm No.7, combining with high tide, affected two sections of the sea dyke embankment in Hai Hau District with a total sag pit area of 278sq.m. This section of sea dyke stands alone without mangrove forest around.

Thus, protecting and enhancing mangrove forests must be prioritised to mitigate the influences of strong typhoons and persistent sea level rise for coastal protection.

Under the project to improve the resilience of coastal communities to climate change in Vietnam, in Nam Dinh, mangrove regeneration has been implemented since 2018, with 112.69ha planted as supplementation and another 85.08ha newly planted. They play an important role in protection from natural disasters and for the lives of communities in coastal areas considered the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Farmer Nguyen Duc Thuy from Nam Dien Commune in Nghia Hung District spends most of his time taking care of the mangrove forest near his house, and takes pride in his work. “The forest can help shield villagers from storms and also protect dykes,” Thuy said. Like many other forest planters, he often wakes up at dawn every day to look after the forest when the sea tide ebbs away. Once or twice every year when the rainy season comes round, forest planters have to review the area, remove low-quality trees, and foster new ones.

Nguyen Van Hien, Vice Chairman of Nghia Hai Commune, said, “The mangrove forest here is quite useful as it protects the sea dyke and mitigated negative effects of storms and floods. Local residents are well taking care of the forest, and thanks to training courses, they have improved their awareness in protecting them.”

Mangrove areas create a vital buffer between the sea and coastal communities. GCF funds support regeneration of approximately 4,000ha of mangroves in coastal areas vulnerable to climate change impacts, including the provinces of Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Ca Mau. Thanks to the project on improving resilience of coastal communities to climate change in Vietnam, many locals in Nam Dinh have been able to secure their sustainable livelihood, while mangrove forests can have a good environment for development, protecting residents from disasters. This is very mutual support between residents and the forests at coastal areas.

It can be said that the biggest success in each activity against coastal disasters is the change in the mindset of the community. They have not been passive to the disasters any longer, but have taken the initiative in responding to them.  VIR

Khoi Nguyen 



Is interbank rate climb worrisome?



Interest rates are the most important focus of attention this year as many believe after a year implementing the loose monetary policy, the authorities concerned are going to tighten them.

 Will the recent surge in interest rates on the interbank money market (Market 2) exert adverse effects on the market between banks and their corporate and individual clients (Market 1)?

Is interbank rate climb worrisome?
When it comes to capital inflows, banks have considerably built up their charter capital in recent years and set out plans for drastic capital hike this year. – SGT Photo: Tran Ngoc Linh

Interest rates on the Interbank market, the channel allowing banks to lend and borrow money among them, suddenly surged in late April. More precisely, the overnight rate climbed to 1.2% per annum, the highest during this past year. Such a level is also nearly three times higher than in the preceding week, 4.5 times higher than in the beginning of the month and 100 basis points higher than in early this year.

Similarly, the interest rates for the one-week, two-week and one-month terms picked up 100-120 basis points against the beginning of the year, and 2.5-3.5 times greater than in early April. The hike worries quite a few people as they fear the liquidity pressure in the banking system is returning and the interest rate rise may send its ripple effect to Market 1, which means that banks may start to revise up their deposit rates again.

According to analysts, interest rates are the most important focus of attention this year, as many believe after a year implementing the loose monetary policy, the authorities concerned are going to tighten it. Recent reports by several institutions also forecast interest rates may start to rise again in the second half of this year, as a number of countries are showing signs of beginning their tightening monetary policy.

As per statistics of the General Statistics Office, credit growth in the banking industry as of March 19 was 1.47%, 2.7 times higher than the rate of only 0.54% in capital mobilization. The most up-to-date credit growth figure was 3.34% in mid-April, which might mean the demand for loans has further risen and the growth in deposits until now has probably failed to keep pace with the credit growth rate.

If this trend continues, it is inevitable that the system’s liquidity will further decline. If this is the case, one cannot rule out the possibility of banks competing for deposits once again. However, there are still factors that help stabilize interest rates, while the recent rise of interbank interest rates is probably just temporary.

Prior to any long holiday, interest rates on Market 1 often grow rapidly as banks are in need of capital to meet their liquidity safety and short-term solvency ratios. They will later slide back.

For example, in the latest surge, although the lending rates in Market 2 increased sharply for the shorter terms, there was hardly any change in the rates for the three-month, six-month and nine-month terms compared to the beginning of the month. Moreover, they even significantly went down against the beginning of the year. Therefore, if this demand for liquidity is only temporary, it will probably not exert any pressure onto the bank-to-customer market. 

Interest rates supporters

Meanwhile, at present and in the immediate future, there are factors that help interest rates remain stable as mentioned above. The first is inflation is still at a low level, evidenced by the fact that the consumer price index (CPI) in April recorded the second consecutive month of reduction compared to the preceding month, with a slight decrease of 0.04%. So far, the CPI has only picked up 1.27% against the beginning of the year and 2.7% year-on-year, far from the target of 4% for the whole year.

Notably, from the third quarter onward, a handsome sum of the dong will possibly be pumped out from the six-month foreign currency sales contracts that commercial banks signed with the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) early this year. That amount of money may help stabilize the liquidity of the dong in the system. In recent years, the volume of the dong pumped out via the foreign currency buying activities carried out by the SBV has played a key role in supporting the liquidity of the system.

Faced with accusations of currency manipulation by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in late 2020, the SBV has switched to buying foreign currencies in a six-month term early this year, but basically this policy may be supportive to the liquidity of the system. In addition, the United States has lately removed Vietnam from her list of currency manipulators. This indicates the intervention in the market for foreign exchange spot transactions may no longer have to bear great pressure. In other words, the central bank may resume the policy on buying foreign currencies via both spot and forward contracts.

Another supporting factor is considering the fact that prices in the real estate market are on the constant rise in an unhealthy way in some localities, which means probably a certain volume of bank loans has been spent on swing trading in this investment channel, the agencies in charge will tighten their grip to cool down the steep housing prices. The SBV, meanwhile, will probably formulate other policies in a bid to limit the volume of credit poured into risky industries, such as real estate or securities, thereby curbing credit growth in the process.

When it comes to capital inflows, banks have considerably built up their charter capital in recent years and set out plans for drastic capital hike this year. Also, they have successfully issued long-term bonds and valuable papers, which helps reduce the dependence on deposits from individual customers, who often come only when offered high interest rates.

As per deposit rates, in April, whereas several banks lifted their deposit rates (up 0.6 percentage point for terms of six months or longer at GPBank, up 0.2 percentage point also for terms of six-month or more at VPBank, and up 0.2 percentage point for terms of 1-3 months at PGBank), some others further lowered such rates: down 0.1 percentage point for terms of six months or longer at Kienlongbank, down 0.2-0.3 percentage point for terms of 6-11 months at VIB, down 0.2 percentage point for 3-5 month terms and 0.1 percentage point for terms of 12 months or more at Techcombank, down 0.2-0.4 percentage point for all terms at MBBank, etc.



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Enterprises and the healthcare front




A medical worker prepares AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for injection – PHOTO: VNA

For enterprises, protecting the people’s health does not look like their mandate, but hundreds of local businesses have rolled up their sleeves for the common cause in the midst of the raging Covid-19 pandemic. Aware of their corporate social responsibility, enterprises across the country have opened their coffers, pouring out hundreds of billions of Vietnamese dong to finance the national vaccination drive.

Just three weeks ago, the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee of HCMC organized a function to receive donations from enterprises for the city’s program to buy vaccines for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, and the enthusiasm from enterprises amazed many attendees.

“As of April 23 this year, the city had received more than VND200 billion from 31 organizations and individuals,” said To Thi Bich Chau, head of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee of HCMC, at the function. That is not to mention donations in kind worth nearly VND70 billion contributed to the city’s vaccination drive.

Wholehearted donations

At the event, Hung Thinh Corporation donated a huge sum of VND50 billion to buy vaccines. Nguyen Nam Hien, deputy general director of Hung Thinh Corporation, noted that the corporation has responded to the call from the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee of HCMC, contributing VND50 billion for HCMC and other localities to buy vaccines. “Apart from this donation, we will continue to support other activities of HCMC and the country to fight the Covid-19 pandemic,” he promised.

In fact, this huge donation is just a part of the corporation’s CSR program to support the community in tough times. When the pandemic surfaced last year, Hung Thinh already donated nearly VND50 billion in cash and in kind, including Covid-19 diagnosis machines, portable X-ray machines, protective gears for medical personnel, and other essential items for frontline workers.

Numerous other enterprises in the country have since early this year also given big bugs for the vaccination program.

On February 25, An Phat Holdings handed over VND20 billion to help the northern province of Hai Duong acquire vaccines for the local people who were then struggling with the third wave of Covid-19 outbreaks. Pham Van Tuan, a senior executive of An Phat Holdings, remarked that the company wished to join forces with the provincial government and other entities to quickly contain outbreaks. Earlier that same month, An Phat Holdings had already donated VND10 billion plus medical supplies worth VND3.5 billion to the provincial government to help with the fight against Covid-19.

In similar gestures, Thaiholdings and LienVietPostBank on February 5 donated a combined VND21 billion to the Ministry of Health to acquire Covid-19 vaccines. Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, speaking at the donation ceremony, highly regarded the generosity of the two companies, stressing “access to Covid-19 vaccines is a top priority of the healthcare sector.”

The minister also reckoned the development of domestic vaccine candidates, saying initial but encouraging results have been achieved. Nanogen has surpassed the first-stage clinical trial and is ready for the second-stage trial, said the minister, referring to the local vaccine candidate. Meanwhile, two other locally-developed candidates by IVAX and VABIOTEC have yielded highly-prospective pre-clinical results.

The development of local Covid-19 vaccines has also earned strong support from local enterprises. Besides giving financial support to buy vaccines, the multi-sector business corporation Vingroup on February 27 handed VND20 billion to the Ministry of Health to support the clinical trial of Covivac vaccine by IVAX. This support, said Minister Long at the donation ceremony, would help speed up the clinical trial of the local vaccine candidate, helping the country launch a Made-in-Vietnam Covid-19 vaccine in the coming time.

According to the health ministry’s website, Vingroup is a strong pioneer in backing the fight against Covid-19. Last year, the group provided over VND1,270 billion, or more than US$50 million, to fund activities against the pandemic, including manufacturing ventilators, acquiring medical machines, and financing projects to respond to Covid-19 outbreaks.

The list of donors for the fight against Covid-19 has been extending over the past year since the pandemic hit the country. These include Nestle Vietnam and Lavie – the latter being a member of Nestle Group – donating nearly VND40 billion, and Vietcombank giving VND4.2 billion to Hai Duong Province to buy a Covid-19 diagnosis machine, among others.

Vaccines for own workers

Before giving their helping hand to the community, many enterprises have earlier pledged to protect their own workers by seeking approval from health authorities to vaccinate their employees against Covid-19.

Kim Oanh Group, for example, in early March unveiled its plan to acquire over 5,000 vaccine doses for its employees and their relatives who will be given the shot all free of charge upon approval from the health ministry, according to Tuoi Tre. Hung Thinh Corporation has also announced its plan to buy over 14,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines for all its staff and their familities. This similar move has also been announced by other enterprises, including Dat Xanh, An Gia, Hi-Kool Vietnam, and Gotec Land among others.

Nguyen Dinh Trung, chairman of Hung Thinh, said the corporation as well as many other enterprises are willing to finance inoculation against Covid-19 for all their employees and their relatives. “Such a move is not only a necessary response to protect the workforce as the most valuable asset of enterprises, but also a corporate responsibility to share the burden with the State, the community and the entire society,” Trung was quoted in He furthered that with vaccines as a shield, the war against Covid-19 will certainly come to success.

In a recent meeting, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long rallied the participation of the business community in the vaccination drive, saying their support would help the country realize the program to safeguard all the people from the pandemic. According to the ministry, Vietnam needs to import some 150 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines this year, which will require huge financial resources and exert great pressure on the State budget.

Although protecting the people’s health is not a mandate of the business community, their active participation, either via direct donations to the relevant State agencies or through vaccination plans for their own workers, is also a great contribution to the common cause of the nation to ward off the pandemic for the good of the economy and the community. Such contribution is all the more urgent now that the fourth wave of Covid-19 has attacked the country, with hundreds of infections confirmed each day, which requires not only efforts by State agencies, healthcare authorities and other frontline workers, but also the participation of enterprises. To some extent, enterprises joining the drive can also be considered as frontline forces.



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Toyota offers support to Vietnamese auto part producers



Representatives of the Vietnam Industry Agency and Toyota Motor Vietnam Co., Ltd sign a memorandum of understanding – PHOTO: VIETNAM INDUSTRY AGENCY

HCMC – Toyota Motor Vietnam Co., Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam Industry Agency on May 17 to support local producers of auto accessories to improve their capability to participate in global supply chains.

Accordingly, the two sides will cooperate to support domestic producers of auto parts to strengthen their linkages with auto assemblers. The cooperation project will be executed this year and the next, the local media reported.

They will work to find potential suppliers, connect them with auto manufacturers and assemblers, hold meetings and visits to domestic suppliers and provide training courses.

Toyota will provide basic criteria for the Ministry of Industry and Trade to choose appropriate enterprises. The company will also preliminarily assess local suppliers, while the Ministry of Industry and Trade will provide legal support, consultants and potential suppliers and support in training.

Pham Tuan Anh, deputy head of the Vietnam Industry Agency, said the lack of connections between Vietnamese and foreign-invested firms had affected the production and economic development.

The development of supporting industries, enhancement of the connections between domestic and foreign-invested enterprises and establishment of local supply chains are core factors to ensure the sustainable development of Vietnam’s industry, Anh added.

Meanwhile, Toyota Vietnam President Hiroyuki Ueda said the advantage of Vietnam’s supporting industries was the high quality but low cost of local human resources.

However, the supply capacity of local firms remains limited, while their production scale is small. Further, they are dependent on high-quality material imports.

Their experiences and governance capacity are also limited, so their production costs double and triple those of other countries in the region, Hiroyuki noted.

Therefore, Toyota is backing Vietnamese firms in supporting industries to increase the localization rate of their products.

Last year, the Ministry of Industry conducted a survey and selected 200 potential suppliers.

Toyota later chose six among the 200 firms to involve them in its supply chains.


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