Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
Lam Dong (VNA) – The Ambassadors of the Netherland, Denmark and Switzerland are making a working trip to the Central Highland province of Lam Dong from June 22-23 to enquire into the management of forest and water sources.

The ambassadors paid close attention to the progress of programmes of sustainable forest development, water resources protection and management, and sustainable coffee cultivation in the locality, which are parts of the Central Highland Sustainable Development Programme initiated by the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).

Dutch Ambassador Nienke Trooster was interested in what the local authorities do to deal with pressure on forests brought about by local practice of cutting down wood for agricultural production and the fact that most minority ethnics live in forests. He also asked about the pace of the implementation of the Central Highland Sustainable Development Programme.

Meanwhile, Swiss Ambassador Beatrice Maser focused her attention on issues relating to Vietnam’s plan to end free supply of water for agricultural production, and how to price the water use fees. She also asked what specific support Vietnam and Lam Dong need from the IDH.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang Van Thang introduced the ambassadors to Vietnam’s policy pilot models and mentioned difficulties facing the country in managing forest and water resources.

The Central Highlands recorded a loss of 180,000 ha of forest over the last five years, and serious depletion of water resources, he noted, adding that the Vietnamese Government is making surveys of all water resources in drought-hit areas, aiming to roll out specific solution to the issue.

The rules on calculating water use fees in agriculture will be specified in the draft law on irrigation, to be submitted to the National Assembly later this year, according to the deputy minister.

The IDH selected Lam Dong for piloting the Central Highland Sustainable Development Programme in 2015, focusing on private-public partnership (PPP) models in irrigation technology development and economical irrigation and management of agriculture chemicals.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Pham S stressed that Lam Dong works hard to conserve water resources and foster afforestation, and enhances links with other regional localities in building regulations of forest protection.

The ambassadors said the IDH plans to continue supporting the Central Highlands and Lam Dong in particular in expanding PPP projects, towards promoting sustainable protection and management of forest and water resources, and assisting regional farmers in developing sustainable agricultural production models.

Covering an area of 54,700 square kilometres, the Central Highlands of Vietnam comprises Lam Dong, Dak Nong, Dak Lak, Gia Lai and Kon Tum provinces.

Fifty-five percent of the area is covered in forest – the highest coverage rate across the nation. The region is also rich in minerals such as coal, bauxite, iron, zinc and rock crystal, while the highly fertile land, a quarter of which is basalt, is ideal for growing perennial crops.

The Central Highlands is vital for the production of some of the country’s key agricultural and forestry commodities including coffee, pepper, rubber, cashews, tea and cocoa.-VNA