Environmental degradation in the Mekong Delta region is occurring at an alarming rate, requiring prompt solutions, the Southwestern Environmental Protection Department has said.

A survey conducted by the Ho Chi Minh Institute of Tropical Biology found out that farmers in the south spend on average 39.3 USD on pesticides for every hectare of farmland, 43.2 percent higher than their northern peers’ spending.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reported that the region’s rice growing area increased from 3.2 million hectares in 1995 to 4.1 million hectares in 2012, which is synonymous with the rise in fertiliser use.

Statistics released by the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute show that each hectare of farmland in the region is cultivated with at least 348 kg of fertiliser per annum.

Based on this figure, the institute calculates that the amount of fertiliser used in the entire region since 1995 to be from 1.5-2 million tonnes each year.

Without complete statistics on the use of pesticide in hand, experts, however, estimated that fields were sprayed with at least 10,000 tonnes of pesticide each year.

Aquatic breeding areas also increased from nearly 200,000 hectares in 1995 to 745,000 hectares at present. However, there is a lack of effective treatment solutions to wastes discharged from these farms.

The other reason also lies with rapid urbanisation. As many as 102 million cubic metres of sewage and 600,000 tonnes of solid waste, all untreated, are discharged by 3.6 million urban residents in the region a year.

In addition, solid waste totalling 220,000 tonnes and 47 million litres of liquid waste, plus smoke and noise, discharged by industrial zones and small-scale businesses located in the region each year also contributed to environmental degradation.

The overuse of pesticide and fertilisers for a long time will spoil fertile farming land and consequently deteriorate the ecosystem. Untreated wastes pose potential threats to the environment and people’s health. It’s time to act, fast, drastically and effectively.-VNA