Friday , July 19 2024

Đồng Tháp Mười wetland to make breakthrough for sustainable development

Nearly 50 years after the country was completely unified, thanks to policies from central and local authorities, Đồng Tháp Mười has become a wealthy area.

The Măng Đa-Cái Môn Canal plays an important role in washing alum, an aluminium compound, for the Đồng Tháp Mười area. — VNA/VNS Photos Đức Hạnh

HCM CITY — Đồng Tháp Mười is a wetland in the Mekong Delta that covers an area of ​​about 690,000 hectares. Nearly 50 years after the country was completely unified, thanks to policies from central and local authorities, the land has become a wealthy area.

Poor land

During the resistance war, Đồng Tháp Mười was a swampy, deserted land with vast patches of melaleuca forests in an area of ​​interlaced canals.

Long An Province occupies more than half of the zone.

In 1985, around 73 per cent of the province’s land was alum soil, or soil containing an aluminium compound, with most of the alum concentrated in the Đồng Tháp Mười area.

Every year, floodwaters inundate the region for many weeks, sometimes lasting up to three or four months.

Before liberation, Đồng Tháp Mười was a deserted area, making it difficult to develop for production and cultivation.

Born and raised in the Đồng Tháp Mười area, Lâm Văn Ra lives in Hưng Trung Village in the Hưng Thạnh Commune, Tân Hưng District. He has witnessed the incredible changes in this land.

Ra said, “In the past, there was both alum and floods, so each year we could only grow one rice crop, with a yield of about two tonnes per hectare.”

But since 1975, special attention has been paid to dredging and digging canals.

The Măng Đa-Cái Môn Canal is concrete evidence of the local people’s extraordinary strength.

Ra said that he was over 20 years old when the canal was dug. Following encouragement from local authorities, he and other youths participated in digging the canal to bring fresh water to the fields.

Director of the Long An Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Thanh Truyền said that aside from the Hồng Ngự Canal, the Măng Đa-Cái Môn Canal also played an important role in washing alum for Đồng Tháp Mười.

With central investment, in around 1985 the Hồng Ngự Canal connecting the Tiền River in Đồng Tháp Province with the Vàm Cỏ Tây River in Vĩnh Hưng District was gradually completed.

With a length of more than 40km, this is the largest canal in the region. Each year it brings in a large volume of fresh water from the Tiền River to Long An Province, repelling salt water and creating favourable conditions for crops.

Along with irrigation, authorities are also focusing on transportation.

Long An Province is building new roads to serve economic growth. The most prominent is National Highway 62, which is considered the pride of the province. It is the result of persistent and resilient labour from tens of thousands of local people.

Former Deputy Director of the Long An Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Trần Thị Kim Đính said that National Highway 62 not only played an important role in streamlining traffic flows, but also promotes Đồng Tháp Mười’s economy.

Current achievements

Machines are used in every stage of agricultural production in the region.

From a desolate land, Đồng Tháp Mười has become a vast rice field. Rice productivity has recently increased from five tonnes per hectare per year to about 14 tonnes per hectare per year.

Since 2015, Long An has implemented a high-tech agricultural development programme to restructure the agricultural sector.

The goal is that by 2025, the province will grow 60,000ha of rice using modern technology, concentrated in Đồng Tháp Mười.

Through training and support policies from the State, local farmers are gradually applying mechanisation to their production, reducing inorganic fertilisers and raising investment to improve productivity and profits.

As of this April, the province has over 56,000ha of rice grown using modern technology, achieving 93.6 per cent of targets.

After two years of high-tech rice production, Tân Thạnh District resident Nguyễn Văn Tám said that farmers no longer did back-breaking work.

The new process not only helped reduce investment costs but also increased productivity.

“Thanks to technical guidance, for the last rice crop my family achieved a yield of 8.5 tonnes per hectare. Profit increased by about VNĐ5 million (US$194) per hectare compared to before. Now, when we plough fields, sow seeds, fertilise and harvest, we all have machines, which is faster and cheaper,” said Tám.

With their role of connecting farmers and businesses, cooperatives have little by little gained the people’s trust.

The Gò Gòn Cooperative in Hưng Thạnh Commune is a typical example.

As an intermediary, the cooperative connects businesses and provides agricultural services and materials at preferential prices for its members.

At the same time, it creates quality products with a high output, attracting the attention of purchasing units.

Trương Hữu Trí, director of the cooperative, said that it was building an organic rice production model, aiming to jointly implement a project of one million hectares of high quality rice.

Human development

As the gateway to the Mekong Delta, Long An Province aims to train a high-quality workforce to meet the demands of industrialisation and modernisation.

Every year, the provincial education sector sets the key task of improving and standardising the quality of teachers and educational managers at all levels.

It researches and develops policies to attract and support teachers, creating conditions for them to feel secure in their work.

The sector also focuses on implementing projects and plans approved by the provincial people’s committee, such as a programme to fund school facilities and serve education innovation, a programme to support preschool education, a project to build houses for teachers and a plan to improve training standards for preschool, primary and junior secondary teachers.

The Thiên Hộ Dương High School is a good example.

School Principal Bùi Xuân Lộc said that the school encouraged information technology applications in teaching.

“The school’s teaching and learning results are demonstrated by the fact that in the 2022-23 school year, all of our students graduated from high school, and 80 per cent of them passed the entrance exam for universities and colleges,” he said.

The school aims to become a high quality training facility in the region.

Along with investing in high-quality education, healthcare is also of special interest to the locality.

The 500-bed Đồng Tháp Mười Regional General Hospital has been built on a five-hectare campus, with a total investment of more than VNĐ561 billion ($21.9 million).

The hospital was equipped with many machines and facilities costing nearly VNĐ54 billion ($2.1 million).

After two years, the number of inpatients at the hospital increased by 20-30 per cent.

The hospital currently has 201 medical workers, 29 of whom have postgraduate training and 109 of whom have university degrees.

Hospital Director Chung Văn Kiều said that most of the patients were poor.

The hospital’s staff brought into full play their abilities and capabilities in medical examination and treatment for the people.

Chung said the hospital planned to cooperate with a number of hospitals in HCM City to deploy specialised techniques to enhance the quality of services. — VNS

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