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Climate change threatens agricultural development

Update: September, 28/2013 - 09:50

HA NOI (VNS) — Climate change is one of the key factors having great impact on production activities and socio-economic development in Viet Nam.

According to Pham Quang Dong, deputy director of the Plant Production Department, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), agriculture production suffers the most. As a result, main crop production is likely to be reduced by 10 per cent and the total plant production yield will be reduced from 1-5 per cent a year.

It is projected that in the near future, production in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta is likely to lose at least 7.6 million tonnes per year, an equivalent of about 40 per cent of the total rice output of the entire country.

In addition, the sea level rise will push salt water infiltration deeper into the inner fields and about 2.4 million hectares of rice fields will be affected. At present, salt water infiltration is already recorded to be four parts per thousand in areas of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta that are located at about 30-40km from the sea. Additionally, in the northern Song Hong (Red River) Delta some 1,300ha are reported to be also be affected by sea water infiltration.

For the mountainous regions in the north and Central Highlands, farmers are facing serious drought due to extreme weather. In the last Winter-Spring season, the coastal areas suffered from severe drought. It is forecast that the upcoming Autumn-Winter crop will also severely be affected by drought.

That's not all, climate change is also the root cause for the increasing use of pesticides in the fields. In the past three years, the rice yields in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta were heavily reduced due to destruction by pests.

Quang also said that CO2 emission from agriculture production in Viet Nam accounts for about 43 per cent of the nation's total emissions, of which 58 per cent is generated from wet rice cultivation, 22 per cent by agriculture land use activities and 12 per cent by the livestock production.

"To cope with such a situation, in the 2008-12 period, Viet Nam introduced many measures to cut down CO2 emissions and to promote a green and sustainable agriculture industry," Quang said.

To cope with the negative effects of climate change, MARD on September 5, 2008 issued the Action Plan Framework for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Agriculture and Rural Development Sector for 2008-20.

Since then Viet Nam has executed many national programmes, including a plan to have 3.8 million hectares for rice cultivation, of which 3.2 million are reserved for two crops per year in order to ensure food reserves for the nation.

Additionally, MARD has given instructions to localities nation-wide to implement several groups of measures to ensure sufficient water for irrigation during the dry seasons and to prevent land erosion in wetlands as well as introducing better systems of crop plants adaptive to climate change.

In addition, MARD has also promoted the work of agriculture extension activities for farmers to cope with climate change. Viet Nam set a target to cut down CO2 emission from agricultural activities by 20 per cent in 2020.

Viet Nam is one of the countries that are frequently hit by natural calamities, including tropical storms, floods, drought and desertisation and others.

It is reported in the last 15 years, natural calamities have claimed 11,000 lives and an asset loss valued at about 1.5 per cent of the GDP per year.

According to Nguyen Van Tinh, deputy director of the Irrigation Department, in the 2006-12 period, the government invested more than VND3trillion (US$142 million) to upgrade the river dikes nationwide and some VND6trillion ($284 million) to build sea dikes. — VNS

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