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Irrigation fees to fall; farmers relieved
12 | 06 | 2007
Irrigation fees will be reduced from January 1, 2008 to create a more favourable agricultural environment by lowering costs for farmers. Fees in the North will decrease by 30 per cent in the Centre by 25 per cent and Mekong Delta by 20 per cent.

The beneficiaries will include individuals and households who have been granted land and water areas for agricultural, forestry, aqua culture, seafood and salt production by the State, according to Nguyen Duc Thang, Deputy Director of Department for Enterprise and Finance Affairs under the ministry of Finance.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) production costs are increasing all the time due to rising prices for seeds, equipment, veterinary services, fertilisers and pesticides and damage caused by droughts, floods, animal diseases and epidemics. Moreover, the land available for agriculture is decreasing due to rapidly expanding urbanisation and industrialisation. Meanwhile, farmers still have to pay for construction, maintenance and repairs of electricity lines, water pipes, roads, schools and clinics.

Currently irrigation fees account for 7-10 per cent of production. With this and the cost of other inputs, farmers clearly have major difficulties in earning sufficient income from their labour. Therefore the aim of the reduction is to lower their expenses and make agriculture more profitable.

Upgraded work

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has just announced a

supplementary budget for urgent irrigation works to come from State funds.

The Ministry of Investment and Planning, in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), will carry out essential and urgent remedial action to repair, restore and improve 15 irrigation projects.

MARD will spend VND183 billion on account to complete the projects.

It is estimated that the total irrigation fees for the country cost the farmers VND2,700 billion a year, which the State will now partially cover. Following the draft publication and implementation, irrigation companies will be duty-bound to provide water to farmers as a public service but because the government will cover the reduction balance the companies will not be at a loss. "When applying the reduction of irrigation fees, companies will not have to worry about debts," said Thang. Therefore they can concentrate their resources on repairing the irrigation system which they couldn’t do before because of a lack of capital .

In addition, the State will continue to assist with 50-60 per cent of the present fees to ameliorate waterlogging and drought. Grant-aid for waterlogging in 2004 was VND99.3 billion and VND143.8 billion for drought in 2005, at the start of 2007 it was VND95 billion for the latter. By the end of 2006, the irrigation system was used for 6.85million ha of rice, 1.71 million ha of agricultural land and was also a water resource for day-to-day household activities and industrial production, according to Le Duc Nam, the Deputy Director of the Irrigation Department under the MARD.

In 1995, there were 13 irrigation plants watering 400,000ha, but due to the State investment and contributions by the people, the number has increased to 100 at present.



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