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Mekong Delta steps up climate change fight

Update: October, 28/2016 - 09:00
Workers at Cỏ May Company in Đồng Tháp Province’s Châu Thành District are packaging rice products. Việt Nam’s agriculture faces challenges, including a scarcity of land and water and natural disasters as consequences of climate change. — VNA/VNS Photo Vũ Sinh
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — The Cửu Long (Mekong) River Delta needs to be more innovative in production and development to grow sustainably in the context of climate change and environmental and integration challenges, a conference heard.

Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Trần Văn Tùng told the Mekong Connect-CEO Forum in Cần Thơ on Wednesday that the region needs to urgently address that global warming and environmental and integration issues.

It should work to change the perceptions and actions of farmers and enterprises and enhance the use of technology in production to come up with safe products meeting the demands of both local and foreign customers, he said.

Economist Phạm Chi Lan said consumers globally want farm produce that meet hygiene and food safety standards.

“If we don’t shift to compete through quality, we cannot compete in the markets despite having various kinds of farm produce.”

Việt Nam’s agriculture faces challenges, including a scarcity of land and water, natural disasters, failure to use technology, poor infrastructure, low labour productivity, and a lack of links between stakeholders and with parts supply industries, she said.

Besides, investment in the sector, including public investment, remains low, though some businesses have entered it recently, she said.

Some economic policies have created unfavourable conditions for the agricultural sector to develop, she said.

To overcome the problems, Việt Nam, especially the delta, should focus on institutional reforms, enabling farmers to pool land to create medium- to large-scale farms, strengthening mechanisation in agriculture and creating agricultural value chains, she said.

Dr Lê Anh Tuấn, deputy head of Cần Thơ University’s Research Institute for Climate Change, said climate change has helped raise awareness among all stakeholders about the need to reduce the causes leading to it, such as selecting more environment–friendly technologies and energy.

Many reports show that in future dry seasons would be longer and hotter, and this could help the tourism industry as well as enable greater production of solar energy, he pointed out.

New enterprises associated with modern agriculture would appear in the delta in the near future, he predicted.

Phan Văn Mãi, deputy secretary of the southern Bến Tre Province’s Party Committee, said as one of the provinces in the delta threatened by severe saltwater intrusion, Bến Tre has made certain adjustments to its agricultural production to increase resilience to climate change and they have been well-received by the public.

Regional connection

Delegates also called for establishing close links between localities in the region as well as between them and HCM City.

Such links are key to mitigating the region’s environmental problems, finding outlets for their agricultural produce and attracting human resources from outside, he said.

But they remain below expectations, and localities should be more pro-active in improving the situation, he said.

The delta’s provinces should define what their common products are to join hands to invest and develop, he added.

Nguyễn Quân, a former science and technology minister, said recently the Government has identified four key products of the region – rice, vegetables, tra fish and shrimp.

Based on this, the region should discuss how to co-operate and each locality should have investment policies for these products, he said.

An Giang, Bến Tre, Cần Thơ and Đồng Tháp have co-operated under a programme called ABCD Mekong to jointly invest in and develop certain products, and it is a good lesson for others, he added.

The delta with 13 cities and provinces plays an important role in the country’s economy, accounting for 80 per cent of rice exports and nearly 60 per cent seafood exports. VNS

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