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Bright future for irrigation sector

Update: July, 12/2005 - 00:00

Bright future for irrigation sector

(12-07-2005)

The Lang The irrigation project will provide water for nearly 27,000ha of agricultural land, as well as preventing another 31,000ha from salinity, when construction is completed in the second half of the year. — VNA/VNS Photo The Anh

HA NOI — Viet Nam will have nearly 16 million hectares under agricultural cultivation by the year 2010, says director Nguyen Tuan Anh, of the Viet Nam Institute for Water Resources Research.

The irrigation sector, said Anh, aims for sustainable development by guaranteeing a clean and adequate water supply, both for agricultural and domestic use.

Anh pointed out that the country has ample natural water resources, with an extensive network of rivers and streams, considerable groundwater resources and an average rainfall of 1,900mm per year.

In presenting a report looking back over 20 years of water resource development, Anh said the country now has nearly 80 large irrigation systems, up from only 12 in 1975. This water delivery system supplies over 5 billion cu.m for rural and domestic use and industrial production. At the same time, the ability to supply clean water to rural users has also increased from 28 per cent in 1996 to 58 per cent at the present time, thanks to the improved water delivery system.

Besides improving water supply and quality, sustainable development of water resources has also assisted in flood control along the Hong (Red), Thai Binh and Cuu Long rivers. Water resource engineers have accessed and applied international technology in the manufacture of pumps and small hydroelectric plants to benefit farmers, especially in mountainous areas.

In Viet Nam, 80 per cent of the population lives in rural areas where agriculture is the main industry. Small land holding size, especially in northern regions, makes it necessary for farmers to improve productivity and diversify crops to obtain greater income from the limited land available. These efforts must be supported by stable water supplies, and as rainfall is not evenly distributed, supplementary irrigation is required.

Despite the developments of the last 20 years, a large part of the existing irrigation and drainage system in Viet Nam is still not functioning properly, due to deterioration and improper maintenance.

The quality and quantity of water resources has also been negatively impacted upon by factors such as increasing population, pollution and climate change, and there has been dispute over water use and allocation among countries sharing international rivers like the Red and Mekong rivers.

To deal with these difficulties, the sector will employ and study international technology, as well as inviting domestic and international experts to guide new developments.

Anh said the nation would also create policies to encourage water resources professionals in Viet Nam to further their studies and contributions to development.

In a related development, representatives of relevant Vietnamese agencies met with the Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) recently to finalise the content of a project to improve Viet Nam’s agricultural productivity through new irrigation measures.

The signing ceremony took place at the Viet Nam Institute for Water Resources Research (VIWRR), under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Concentrating on 25 provinces in the Red River Delta region, the project will focus on improving the participatory irrigation management (PIM) system, through the VIWRR.

The project, expected to last for five years, aims to produce PIM guidelines and manuals, implement training courses in water management methods, and train VIWRR engineers to themselves work as PIM trainers.

The new PIM trainers will help IMC engineers in each province implement improved methods for water management and organisation.

PIM aims to improve agricultural productivity, in terms of both yield and cost, through implementing new farming and engineering techniques. A centre for PIM was recently established at the VIWRR.

As the PIM concept is fairly new to workers involved in irrigation at all levels, it will be necessary to carry out technology transfers from more experienced countries to successfully implement PIM in Viet Nam. To this end, MARD requested that the Government of Japan provide technical assistance for Viet Nam’s fledgling PIM system. — VNS

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