Experts have warned farmers in the Mekong Delta should not expand the autumn-winter rice crop, saying losses will outweigh benefits in the long run.
They were speaking at a seminar “Benefits and Costs of The Autumn-Winter Crop in The Mekong Delta” held in Can Tho City on Tuesday. Nguyen Huu Thien, an independent expert in ecology and natural systems in the delta, asked a lot of questions over whether cultivation of the autumn-winter crop is sustainable in the long term or all benefits earned from the crop are higher than input costs.
One of benefits of the crop is to satisfy rice supply for exports, thus helping the nation remain one of the top rice exporters and bringing home foreign exchange, Thien said. The crop would also create jobs for local farmers in the flood season and bring incomes for them, he said.
However, Thien noted, it is necessary to look into three elements, namely finance, environment and society, when comparing between benefits and costs of growing the crop. “We should weigh impacts on the whole region, especially in the context that climate change will substantially affect the delta in the near future,” he told the seminar.
Thien cited the two natural sunken areas of the delta – Long Xuyen Quadrilateral and Dong Thap Muoi region – as examples to make his viewpoint clear. Long Xuyen Quadrilateral has a total area of some 700,000 hectares and Dong Thap Muoi covers about 500,000 hectares and they are able to hold water in the flood season and help regulate salt water and fresh water when floods recede.
Similarly, Dr. Duong Van Ni, an environment expert from the Can Tho University, wondered if adopting the crop is the final one. He warned that it would be hard for farmers to change the situation once they decide to close Long Xuyen Quadrilateral and Dong Thap Muoi region to develop the crop.
The Saigon Times Daily