The Plain of Reeds (Dong Thap Muoi) region has achieved remarkable development in agriculture, infrastructure and improving living condition after a 30-year period of development, participants said at a meeting on Wednesday.
Reviewing 30 years of reclaiming the Plain of Reeds region, Nguyen Thanh Phong, former chairman of the Dong Thap Province People’s Committee, said treatment of the previously alum-rich soil had led to higher yields in rice cultivation.
Dong Thap Province’s rice output increased from 260,000 tonnes in 1975 to 1 million tonnes in 1988 and to 2.8 million this year.
The Plain of Reeds region has a total area of 696,000ha and spans Dong Thap, Tien Giang and Long An provinces in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.
In 1980, the Government decided to develop the region, whose soil was heavily polluted with alum at that time, into a region that could have high-growth in the agriculture, industry, services and tourism sectors.
Farmer Nguyen Van Dinh from Tam Nong District’s Phu Tho Commune said that the cultivation of rice and other crops had been difficult before the restoration of the soil.
Many migrant households had to leave the region because of the poor farming conditions, Dinh said.
“I was determined to stay here. Gradually, alum was washed out of the soil and we could then grow rice,” he said.
Duong Nghia Quoc, director of Dong Thap Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the development of irrigation systems was a breakthrough in reclaiming the Plain of Reeds region.
Irrigation systems cover all areas in the region, ensuring water for cultivating three rice crops a year as well as other crops and aquaculture.
Prof. Vo Tong Xuan, former rector of the An Giang Province University, said the local residents’ contributions had helped make the regional transformation a success.
However, the lives of many households are still difficult and new policies to improve the economy are needed.
Participants at the meeting also voiced their concerns about sustainable development for the Plain of Reeds region.
Duong Van Ni, director of the Hoa An Biodiversity – Application – Research Centre under Can Tho University, said cajeput-tree areas should be maintained in the Plain of Reeds region because they protected the region’s ecology and it was part of the regional culture.
Many cajeput areas in Long An, Tien Giang and Dong Thap provinces have been cut down in recent years because of their low economic value.
Ho Chinh, former head of the HCM City Institute of Resources Geography, said research plans for developing the Plain of Reeds region were needed in the areas of population, urban development, transport, commerce and investment promotion.
If this is done concurrently, then the region could grow rapidly, he added.
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