Viet Nam News
NINH THUẬN — Agriculture deputy minister Hoàng Văn Thắng yesterday flew to Ninh Thuận Province following reports of sheep dying en masse from drought.
Bác Ái District, where sheep and the farmers were hit the hardest, was still in the process of determining the exact death toll, but there have been separate reports from residents that could total the number of sheep deaths in the hundreds.
Severe drought since March drained lakes and reservoirs, leaving cracked flat beds of clay and no grass. The sheep consequently died from thirst and starvation.
Pa Nô works for arguably the biggest sheep farm in Bác Ái’s Đồng Dày Village which raised more than 1,000 sheep. His duty is to look after the animals, herding them dozens of kilometres through the dying forest to the neighbouring Ninh Sơn District where the Cái Phan Rang River flows by in hope of finding some water and grass for the flock.
“It’s just the beginning of the dry season but some hundred have died,” he told the Nhân Dân (People) newspaper.
“(It was) a shortage of water and food. There were times when four or five died on the same day. I daren’t tell the farm owner as every time he heard the sheep die, he was very sad.”
A farm owner Nguyễn Văn Bảy in the same village said that he used to have nearly 300 sheep, but now was left with just 130.
Many of Bảy’s mother sheep died from exhaustion just days after birthing baby lambs due to a lack of water and food, he said, while the lamb would also starve to death without its mother’s milk.
“I don’t know what to do now,” he said. “A female sheep used to cost between two to three million đồng (US$80-130), but now is only VNĐ600,000. Still no one is buying as there is no water and food to raise it.”
According to Ninh Thuận authorities, nine out of 21 reservoirs across the province were seriously short of water. One had a completely dry bed while the other eight had less than 0.5 million cubic metres for the next six months of the dry season.
Deputy director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Phan Quang Thựu told Vietnam News Agency that authorities asked the irrigation agency to prioritise saving water for animals, while also recommending residents herd their flocks to lowlands for a better chance of finding clean water and grass.
Fears were spreading among residents that the historic drought in 2015 would repeat this year. The harshest drought in more than two decades caused a water shortage affecting more than 50,000 people, while 16,500ha of crops were abandoned and more than 1,300 farm animals died. — VNS