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Viet Nam Prime Minister urges action on pest infestation of rice crop
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has again urged the extermination of brown planthopper pests in order to curb the resulting ragged stunt rice disease currently plaguing southern rice fields.

Dung, who chaired a meeting on fighting the rice disease in HCM City last Saturday, said human resources and materials, pesticides in particular, must be supplied to stamp out the brown planthoppers.

He said funding for pesticides would be provided by the Central budget while the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) would be responsible for leading a successful fight against the rice disease. Provincial authority chairpersons must be responsible for mobilising forces and organising campaigns to combat the ragged stunt rice disease.

Rice fields infested with brown hoppers and rice disease must be destroyed and provincial authorities must provide proper financial support for farmers with damaged fields as a result.

Dung said the Agriculture Bank must provide loans to all farmers owning rice fields that have been at least 50 percent damaged by the disease.

Provincial authorities must conduct a comprehensive survey on the damages caused by the disease and provide support aiming to prevent any possible food shortages.

For the long term, Dung said the MARD must have plans for re-structuring crops to reach a sustainable agricultural development in each area. Farmers’ income must be raised and national food safety ensured.

The brown planthoppers and the resulting ragged stunt rice disease have damaged four consecutive rice crops since the 2005-06 winter-spring crop. The outbreak has spread over 21 provinces and cities in southern Viet Nam.

The brown hoppers have spread the rice disease over 485,000 hectares of rice fields, resulting in the loss of some 828,000 tonnes of rice.

Damages caused by the rice disease, mainly to Mekong Delta provinces, are estimated at VND2 trillion (US$120 million).

Dung said poor disease prevention, control and improper crop structuring were to blame for the spread of the rice disease.

He also asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and provincial authorities to learn from this outbreak and prevent it in the future.

The MARD Minister Cao Duc Phat said crop re-structuring aiming to replace rice with other crops that yield higher income would be one of the major measures to fight rice disease and ensure sustainable development.

Phat said farmers would be required to conduct preventive sanitation for rice fields before the 2006-07 winter-spring crop begins, while provincial authorities would provide schedules for rice sowing.

He also asked farmers not to use rice strains known to be affected by the brown insects.
MGR Archive 7.11.2006
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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