Quảng Ngãi struggles to lift farmers out of poverty

Update: September, 29/2018 - 09:00
Hồ Văn Xoay, a farmer in Tây Trà District’s Trà Phong Commune, has had empty cages for two years after a herd of rabbits given to him as part of an aid programme all died. - Photo
Viet Nam News

QUẢNG NGÃI – Poverty alleviation programmes aiming to help people in mountainous areas of central Quảng Ngãi Province are ineffective and unsustainable, local authorities said.

Lương Kim Sơn, director of the province’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said the many social aid programmes carried out over the past few years had helped improve lives, especially of ethnic minority people in remote mountainous areas.

However, he said the established model for providing poor people with Zebu cows, Bách Thảo goats, rabbits, wild boars, Đồng Nai bananas, and other crops have shown shortcomings.

Phạm Văn Na, a farmer in Ba Tơ District’s Ba Giang Commune, was among six households given 11 goats by local authorities to develop goat farming in the commune. But shortly after they were handed out, the goats were all dead.

Na told the weather of the mountainous area was not suitable for the animals. He and other farmers had no experience raising goats and received little instruction, leading to the deaths of the animals.

A farmer in Tây Trà District’s Trà Phong Commune, Hồ Văn Xoay, has kept empty iron cages in his garden for nearly two years. The cages, together with 10 rabbits, were given to him to develop a rabbit farm in the commune.

Xoay said the herd of rabbits died after just three months. Other households in the commune had similar experiences, with total losses comprising more than 50 animals worth a combined VNĐ 50 million (US$2,100).

Xoay and other farmers did exactly as local officers instructed, and did not know what caused the deaths.

Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of Trà Khê Commune Hồ Văn Trực said these attempts failed because of the loose management of local authorities, which provided animals and seedlings without educating farmers on the basic skills needed to care for them.

He pointed out that farmers were not provided with crops and animals suitable for the area’s climate and the farming habits of local people.

Sơn agreed, saying that providing aid without any education would only make people dependent on local government. These shortcomings had seen successive programmes fail and the rate of poverty remained high.

Huỳnh Thị Thanh Thuý, head of Tây Trà District’s Office for Agriculture and Rural Development, said the office wanted the programmes to have a lasting economic effect on participating farmers, but did not carefully consider weather and local customs in deciding what help to provide.

The province has approved a new programme that will give financial and technical support to those who produce certain high-value agricultural products, especially in poverty-hit Sơn Tây and Tây Trà districts.

Between 2011 and 2016, VNĐ 2.2 trillion ($92.4 million) went into programmes to fight poverty in six districts of the province.

The province plans to spend an additional VNĐ 10.7 trillion ($449.4 million) on aid by 2020. – VNS