Members of Hải Dương City's Youth Union help harvest crops in Tứ Kỳ District. — Photo courtesy of the city's Youth Union
HẢI DƯƠNG — For the last two weeks, Lương Thị Loan, head of the Women's Union of An Phụ Ward in Kinh Môn Town, Hải Dương City, hasn't had a single meal with her family.
She has been too busy cooking meals for people working at quarantine checkpoints. She and other union members have also helped take care of the housework and farms of other members who are in quarantine after having close contacts with confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Entire families in Loan’s neighbourhood are stuck in concentrated quarantine areas while now is the harvesting time for their crops including carrots, kohlrabi and cabbages.
A highly-contagious variant of SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the northern province of Hải Dương. In nearly a month, more than 600 locally-transmitted COVID-19 infections have been confirmed in the province and new cases are expected in the coming days, according to health experts, making this the epicentre of the third infection wave in the country since the pandemic began earlier last year.
The province's authorities have imposed strict social distancing measures to curb the transmission.
“Thanks to the support of my parents, my husband and my children, I can spend time helping others," Loan said.
For the last few days, she and other nine members of the ward’s Women's Union harvested more than ten sào (3,600 sq.m) of onion for quarantined families.
Lương Văn Ba, a wholesaler of Lê Lợi Commune, Gia Lộc District, said he signed contracts to buy vegetables from 5ha of local farmers but could not sell the vegetables because of transport restrictions.
Seeing people living in locked-down areas facing a shortage of food, Ba donated the vegetables.
Nguyễn Văn Du, of Chí Minh Commune, Tứ Kỳ District and dozens of members of the local farmers’ union helped harvest crops in Hưng Đạo Commune where farmers could not harvest and sell their farming products because of quarantine.
Du said he was very worried as his 120ha of bananas awaited wholesalers but other local vegetable growers had also been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, adding that he wanted to do something to help them first.
Phạm Khắc Duy, a resident of Lai Cách Town, Cẩm Giàng District, a lockdown area in Hải Dương Province, said many migrant workers there faced difficulties to make ends meet during the pandemic.
Duy and his friends sought support for the workers by contacting food suppliers and charity groups. Hundreds of gifts including necessities like rice, noodles, fish sauce, vegetables and eggs were given to the workers.
“Heads of residential groups help us to arrange transportation and delivery of the gifts to ensure disease prevention and control measures, particularly the no gathering principal,” Duy said.
Hải Dương Province’s Youth Union also launched a campaign in which members went to Tứ Kỳ District and helped farmers harvest carrots, tomatoes, onions and garlic.
More than 4,000ha of winter crops in the province are reportedly ready to be harvested with a productivity of more than 90,700 tonnes. Fearing the risk of COVID-19 infection, few wholesalers have travelled to Hải Dương farms to buy products. In additions, some neighbouring localities have refused entry to trucks from Hải Dương.
Seeing thousands of tonnes of farming products stuck and set to spoil in the province, individuals and groups in and out of the province have tried to help get the goods delivered to consumers.
Lã Thanh Huyền who comes from Hải Dương and now lives and runs a business in Hà Nội has turned part of her storehouse on Cổ Linh Street into a destination where people ca buy Hải Dương farm products.
She has also called on her friends to help sell the farm produce.
Representatives from Hải Dương co-operatives contacted Huyền and asked her for help, she said, adding that it was difficult to arrange transportation.
Some co-operatives were willing to cover transport costs to carry farming products to sites in Hà Nội, Huyền said.
People buy vegetables to support Hải Dương farmers in Hà Nội's Giải Phóng Street. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Sơn
Đặng Như Quỳnh, another business owner in Hà Nội, also helped bring Hải Dương farm produce to the city. He and his friends allowed the goods to be sold at properties they run, saying that “they want to be the bridge that connects farmers in disease-hit areas with people who want to give support.”
“Now, in Hải Dương Province, collecting, packing, transporting and loading products are all done by 'unprofessional' forces including soldiers, police, students and social organisations. Thus, the products mat get to Hà Nội later than announced,” he said.
All the farm produce would be gathered and disinfected before being brought to Hà Nội, he said.
The vegetables are packed in bags of 10kg each and sold at prices farmers usually offer to wholesalers, making them much cheaper than those in markets.
“We are so happy that people came and bought the vegetables as soon as we arrived,” Quỳnh said, adding that the logistics of the operation in Hà Nội was done by volunteers.
Đào Bích Liên, a resident in Cẩm Giàng District, said she was living in a lockdown area and was very grateful to see meaningful actions to support local farmers.
Phạm Thị Hiền, a retiree in Hà Nội, said that at this time, people did not care much about the prices but just wanted help farmers in disease-hit areas.
“We hope people in disease-hit areas would be reassured to fight against the pandemic. We are with them,” she said. —VNS