Loan extension for cold spell victims

The Viet Nam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP) has announced it will provide loan term extensions for households suffering from the recent cold spell.

Fish breeders in northern Thai Binh Province's Thai Thuy District suffer losses as hundreds of tonnes of their fish died from record cold spell. — Photo

The extension of up to three years will be applied to families with damage reported at between 40 and 80 per cent, and up to five years to households with damage reported above 80 per cent.

During the extended terms, these debtors will not be required to pay interest.

The provision of additional loans will also be considered based on local demand.

By Thursday, more than 5,000 people, who have borrowed a total amount of VND127.3 billion (USVND126,711 million) from the VBSP, had taken the brunt of the dreadful weather.

Damage was calculated at 12,300 dead farm animals and about 10,725 hectares of destroyed farming areas.

The Husbandry Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has instructed cities and provinces affected by the cold to take all necessary measures to ease the damage caused by the weather to the animal breeding sector.

The municipal and provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development were requested to send working groups to help locals minimise losses.

Agencies should regularly update farmers with weather conditions via mass media, the Husbandry Department said.

It also asked localities to take the initiative in using their own budgets to fight cold spells and overcome any consequences.

Local farmers should be guided to raise their cattle with on-the-spot feed, not let them wander during cold days and decontaminate breeding facilities in order to prevent the outbreak of diseases.

Localities were requested to propose recovery plans and provide farmers with breeding stock and animal feed after the cold spell.

Deputy PM in Sa Pa

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday inspected recovery efforts in Sa Pa district, in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai following the recent severe cold spell.

Together with Bat Xat, Sa Pa is one of the localities hardest hit by the cold, suffering temperatures as low as -4.2 degrees Celsius – the coldest in the past 60 years.

Snow blanketed 18 communes and townships, disrupting traffic and agro-forestry production.

The cold weather also killed 168 cattle in more than 120 poor and near-poor households and damaged 250ha of vegetables in nearly 950 households, resulting in billions of dong of losses.

Eighty per cent of water pipelines in the locality have been frozen.

The Deputy PM, who is also head of the Steering Committee for the Northwestern Region, took the occasion to call for all possible resources to restore production and help locals stabilise their lives.

The Ministry of Finance was requested to provide funding for recovery efforts while the Health Ministry is to supply medicines to affected families.

He also suggested the Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and the Bank for Social Policies help with funding for production and farming.

Phuc hoped that local authorities would ensure social welfare services to residents and bring them a warm and happy Lunar New Year festival.

The Viet Nam Red Cross Society, credit organisations and local firms presented gifts worth VND2.9 billion (VND2,912,130,000) to affected families.

Cold hits fish breeders

Over 130 tonnes of fish bred in pond and 60,000 kilogrammes of baby fish in Thai Binh Northern province's Thai Thuy District died from the record chill in the week.

Thai Thuy authorities have issued guidelines to aquiculture breeders to apply urgent measures to protect aquatic life. Dropping water hyacinth over one-third of the water surface to stop winds, and covering the pond surface with canvas or nylon were among the urgent measures suggested during the record chill, which caused vast damage to local farming households.

The dead fish were mainly in Thuy Hai, Thai Thuong, and Thuy Xuan communes.

Initial reports from Thai Thuy District authorities revealed 140ha of fish breeding area suffered damage in the cold spell with temperatures plummeting to under 6o Celsius.

Local shrimp breeders were fortunate to sell out all their produce before the cold spell hit the area, an official from district authorities said.

Fish breeder Nguyen Trung Dac in Tam Dong Village of Thuy Hai Commune said in tears, "My family has 1.5ha of perch breeding area. The 18-month-old fish was ready to be consumed during Tet. On Sunday morning, I saw dead fish scattered on the water surface and on Monday, we were heartbroken after seeing dead fish belly up in the pond."

Before this cold spell, Dac estimated that revenue from his fish pond would be up VND600 to VND700 million (VND591,318,000-31,100).

Thuy Hai Commune's Dai Dong fish breeding co-operative has 60ha of perch and garrupa among a total 100ha of aquaculture area.

A co-operative farmer said bred fish cannot adapt to a sudden drop in the temperature and died en masse.

Many local breeders suffered heavy losses, and some had lost half of their bred fish.

Thuy Xuan Commune has 200 fish breeders in a total area of 49ha. Local authorities estimated that half the breeders suffered losses during the chill with maximum dead fish up to 1.5 tonnes per breeder.

Some breeders tried to sell live small fish but the price was too low, at about VND22,230 per kilogrammes.

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