HA NOI — The Government's policy to reduce irrigation fees for farmers has cut their production costs by 3-10 per cent and increased their yield.
|Construction work at Thach Nham drainage canal in central Quang Tri Province. The ADB-funded canal will supply water to 30,000ha of agricultural land. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Long
Deputy head of the Irrigation Department under Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry Vu Van Thang said the area of irrigated farmland reported had increased 4-10 per cent since the policy was launched in 2008, meaning farmers qualified for more water, which had helped improve productivity.
Under the previous fee system farmers were understating the amount of land under cultivation to save money on water fees. They were thus getting less than the optimum amount of water for the true area and the crops were suffering.
Now that farmers were accurately reporting areas under cultivation, they were qualifying for more water and thus production had increased.
The Government partly funds irrigation service providers to operate irrigation works (for example, canals and pumping stations). To get water from the sluices to inner-field irrigation systems, farmers pay a fee to the service providers.
However, Quang Tri Irrigation Ltd vice director Tran Van Tho said while fees were reduced, the fund the providers received from the Government remained the same and had not kept up with inflation, posing difficulties for the company.
Another shortcoming of the policy was that irrigation work in remote mountainous regions required more maintenance due to harsh conditions, and the funds provided by the Government were not enough.
Head of Nhon Hau Agriculture Co-operatives in central Binh Dinh Province Mai Duc Anh said inner-field irrigation fees were too low for the company to cover the costs of service delivery, including costs to pump water to the fields.
Deputy Minister Dao Xuan Hoc said policy makers would review the shortcomings and propose solutions, including reasonable Government funding, to ensure benefits for both farmers and irrigation service providers. — VNS