09:54 | 04/05/2016 Economy- Society
(VEN) - Former Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan spoke to Vietnam Economic News’ Quynh Nga about the effects of salinity on agricultural production in the Mekong Delta. He said it was necessary to seek solutions in order to minimize drought and salinity.
Former Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan
Drought and salinity have hit the Mekong Delta. What solutions does the region need?
Planting saltwater-resistant crops and trees is an important solution, contributing to ensuring food security in the future such as rice that can withstand up to 10-ppt salinity. The Can Tho University successfully studied a variety of saltwater-resistant rice. However it has not been favorite because of low quality.
Promoting cultivation area planning is also a priority. It is necessary to keep good rice growing areas safe, while areas that have been attacked by salinity need to be planted by suitable crops and trees.
Salinity prevention and freshwater regulation require the construction of irrigation systems. How have research works been applied in the current situation?
The Mekong Delta will face freshwater shortages and increasing salinity in the future if all hydropower dams upstream the Mekong Delta from China to Laos and Cambodia are uncontrollably constructed. The research results of the Vietnamese irrigation sector can be used in the current situation. However it is a temporary solution as climate change remains complex. How to ensure freshwater resources for production and daily life is seen as a top priority.
What do you think about using genetically modified crops in the context of climate change?
The scientific community still has two conflicting views. One side wants to develop genetically modified crops to adapt to climate change and diseases, while the other side believes that the impacts of genetically modified crops on human beings have not been fully rated. Therefore, many countries in the world have strictly forbidden the plantation of genetically modified crops, especially the EU countries. And Vietnam must be cautious about growing genetically modified crops.
After many years of experiment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has allowed to grow genetically modified maize. However the ministry will continue to conduct a research as impacts on human beings are unpredictable.
What has the Ministry of Science and Technology directed to deal with saltwater encroachment?
Through working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, we want research institutes and groups to focus on key contents. The Ministry of Science and Technology will allocate budgets and cooperate with units to find out the most effective solutions.
According to former Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan, the ministry should focus on producing high-yielding rice varieties with good quality.