|A farmer on his shrimp farm in Quảng Bình Province. People in the flood-affected areas are struggling to obtain seedlings and breeding stock so that production can be resumed and livelihoods stabilised.—VNS/VNS Photo Đức Thọ|
Phan Phùng – Hữu Anh
QUẢNG BÌNH — The brutal floods in this central Vietnamse province earlier this month left many farmers struggling. Now more than ever they need urgent support in seedlings and breeding stock to resume production and stabilise their livelihoods.
Lost it all
In Quảng Bình Province, the farmer’s main job is cultivating rice; but, on average, most households own just about four acres of paddy field each. Therefore, in recent years, farmers have also gone into raising livestock to provide them with valuable additional income. But in many areas of the province, which borders the sea to its east, virtually all the pigs, chickens and fish they were raising were washed away by swollen floodwaters.
Thuận Đức Commune was spared major deluges in previous years, but this year was innundated with severe flash floods that followed torrential downpours on October 14 and 15.
Incomplete figures by Quảng Bình authorities show that the floods inundated about 1,500 hectares of crops, swept away 1,000 hectares of aquaculture farms, and killed 150 cattle plus thousands of fowls.
|A cage farmer in Quảng Lộc commune, Quảng Bình Province lost tens of tonnes of fish to the floods. — Photo danviet.vn|
The floods laid waste to 242 farms – 238 of which were integrated farms and aqualculture farms – with total losses estimated at nearly VNĐ100 billion (US$4.5 million).
In Hà Tĩnh Province, 30,000 households were impacted by the floods, totaling VNĐ1 trillion of damage.
In many areas of Hà Tĩnh Province, especially in worst-hit areas like Hương Khê and Vũ Quang districts, one week after the downpour and floods, fields were still covered in water and crops submerged.
“Preparing for the winter crop season, district-wide people had planted some 2,000 hectares of maize and 830 hectares of other types of crops. However, in the historic floods, 18 communes were inundated, nine of which were critically hit, and these plants stood no chance to survive,” said Lê Quang Vinh of the Hương Khê District Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“Regarding the loss of animals, 108,000 fowls and 500 cattle and pigs were either swept away or drowned,” Vinh added.
Trần Minh Liên from Hương Giang District was disheartened to find that the floodwater had ruined his entire orchard. “Just last week, the orange and grapefruit trees were all laden with near ripe fruits, I decided to wait a bit more before picking. Now, oversaturated soil leads to root rot and hundreds of trees are dying,” he said.
|A chicken coop placed on a homemade floating raft in Hương Khê District.- VNA/VNS Photo Tuấn Anh|
Fish and rods
Food and clothing donations, as well as financial aid, were valuable short-term support, but residents of the flood-hit areas need much more to secure their livelihoods in the longer term.
Lê Công Toán, Chairman of the Quảng Bình Province’s Farmers’ Association, said that after the calamitous floods, with tremendous nationwide support, difficulties were partly alleviated and farmers gradually overcame the disaster.
But now authorities and the people are struggling to obtain seedlings and breeding stock so that production can be resumed and livelihoods stabilised.
For the coming winter-spring crop season, thousands of tonnes of rice seedlings are needed and thousands of tonnes of other crop seedlings.
In Lệ Thủy District (Quảng Bình) alone, to cultivate 10,000 hectares of rice each year, farmers need upwards of 1,200 tonnes of rice seedlings.
In previous years, they could secure about half this amount and the rest was obtained via State grants. However, the damning floods this year swept away or damaged all the seeds they had stored.
Farmers not only need assistance for this winter’s crop season, but also for the following spring, said Nguyễn Thanh Sơn of the Vũ Quang District Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hà Tĩnh Province.
“In addition to rice, people in flood-hit areas also need maize and peanut seedlings, fertilisers. Help in supplying fowls and sows would be greatly appreciated,” he added.
Đặng Quốc Khánh, Chairman of the Hà Tĩnh Province People’s Committees, recently asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Government to urgently assist in seedling supplies - specifically, 2,000 tonnes of rice seeds, 30 tonnes of maize seeds and 10 tonnes of vegetables seeds for the spring crop. – VNS