|Despite warnings from local authorities, many farmers in Tra Vinh Province's Chau Thanh District are continuing to sell clay dug up from their rice fields after they have harvested crops.— Photo danviet
HCM CITY (VNS) — Despite warnings from local authorities, many farmers in Tra Vinh Province's Chau Thanh District are continuing to sell clay dug up from their rice fields after they have harvested crops.
Officials have told farmers that digging up the clay could cause flooding, and that the clay, which is taken from areas 0.1-0.45 metres deep in their rice fields, has nutrients needed for the next season's crop.
Farmers sell the clay, which is used to make bricks, to supplement their income.
In Chau Thanh, clay is being sold mostly in Song Loc, Luong Hoa, Luong Hoa A communes.
Farmers can earn about VND100-120 million (US$4,700-5,700) from selling clay taken from one hectare.
Some farmers sell clay to remove it from their rice fields, as they are located in a high area, which hinders irrigation.
Several farmers said the yield of their clay-mined rice fields had been higher in fields where the alum in the soil had not leaked out.
However, Huynh Quang Nhuong, an agricultural official of Song Loc Commune, said most farmers suffered losses in clay-mined rice fields, especially during the summer-autumn rice crop season.
In the summer-autumn rice crop, clay-mined rice fields flood when there are heavy rains, causing rice plants to fall, resulting in lower yields.
Nguyen Chi Hiep, chairman of the Song Loc Commune People's Committee, said farmers had to pay higher labour costs for planting and harvesting rice on these fields as agricultural machines could not enter the fields.
In addition, farmers have to use a higher quantity of fertilisers to plant rice on these fields.
In Song Loc Commune, clay has been dug up and sold in fields covering a total of more than 400 ha of 2,400ha of rice fields over the past five years.
The Chau Thanh District People's Committee has told farmers who want to remove clay to lower their rice fields to get permission from local authorities. However, many farmers have ignored the order.
The Chau Thanh District's Natural Resources and Environment Bureau has fined 31 people for illegally mining clay. Fines have totalled VND300 million ($14,280) since 2013.
Tran Van Dieu, deputy chairman of the district's People's Committee, said the committee had instructed commune authorities to tighten the management of mined clay and strictly punish violators. – VNS