Sheep feed in a dry pasture in Ninh Thuận Province’s Bác Ái District. – VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Thành
NINH THUẬN – Farmers in the south central province of Ninh Thuận are struggling to find natural food and water for their animals as prolonged hot weather causes pasture lands to dried up.
The province has more than 309,000 goats and sheep, 120,000 cows and oxen and nearly 4,000 buffaloes, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Most farmers in the province breed animals on a small scale and feed them on pasture lands.
Nguyễn Văn Thanh, who raises 150 sheep in Bác Ái District’s Phước Trung Commune, said he now has to take the animals very far to find pasture.
But it is not easy since other farmers are doing the same thing, he said.
Many have had to sell their livestock because of the lack of natural food and the high cost of buying them food.
Nguyễn Thị Dần of Ninh Hải District’s Xuân Hải Commune used to have 200 goats and sheep, but now has only 70.
She has to spend VNĐ10 million (US$430) a month to buy straw and some refined food for them now.
She is worried, she admitted, since the cost of breeding animals is high and her family’s livelihood depends on them.
The country’s driest province faces a severe drought after rainfall was 40 – 60 per cent below normal last year.
Its 21 reservoirs had a total of 61 million cubic metres of water, or just 30 per cent of their capacity, as of last week, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Farmers have had to stop growing rice and other short-term crops and do aquaculture on a total of 7,500ha because of the water shortage.
Trần Quốc Nam, deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said relevant departments and agencies have been instructed to concentrate on coping with drought that could worsen and widen.
The province would improve water conservation and prioritise providing water from rivers and reservoirs to households, key economic sectors and animals and to water perennial trees, he said.
The Animal Health and Husbandry Sub-department would instruct farmers to keep their animals healthy, use water efficiently and not expand their herds if they cannot secure food and water for them, he added.
Farmers should sell market-size and old animals and give their livestock additional food like bran, corn flour and molasses to enhance their health, according to the sub-department. – VNS