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Irrigation fees for farmers may end
13 | 10 | 2007
Farmers are expected to enjoy a total irrigation fee exemption by early 2008 if the Government approves a project submitted by the Finance Ministry. If the proposal is approved, the financial burdens of farmers and fishermen will be greatly reduced.

According to experts, a comprehensive irrigation system is crucial to Viet Nam, with its long-standing tradition of agricultural production, a fundamental economic sector for this country. The current system has not been sufficient due to its poor quality. Droughts and floods occur annually, causing farmers and fishermen to compare their livelihoods to a "gamble with nature."

The irrigation system has fallen into serious disrepair despite recent investments of VND57.7 trillion (US$3.6 billion). The systems in Ma Danh in the Central Highland province of Lam Dong and Cao Cang in the southern province of Dong Nai are worth approximately VND10 billion ($625,000) and are not used effectively. In addition, the current management of the irrigation system is limited. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, admits that the mechanisms and policy are not synchronous, management is still insufficient, and awareness concerning the use, exploitation and reparation of the system is also inadequate.

According to Nguyen Dai Lai, Deputy Director of the Strategy Department at the State Bank of Viet Nam, income per capita of farmers in the Mekong River Delta granary is under VND1,500 per day if the farmers rely solely on what they cultivate from their own fields. Experts said, fees and charges including irrigation fees have become a burden for most farmers and fishermen. Moreover, the collection of irrigation fees has its disadvantages as well, according to a representative of the Ministry of Finance. Nation-wide irrigation fees only bring in VND900 million ($56.300). The fee collection seems to bring more trouble than it’s worth with VND377billion ($23.6 million) of debt unpaid in 2006.

The Ministry of Finance therefore suggests the elimination of irrigation fees for residents and individuals who own land and water surface for agricultural purposes, such as fisheries, forestry and salt production and farming.

Source: VNS
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