Natural disasters have pulled down agricultural, forestry and fishery production of Vietnam, said a Vietnamese minister on Saturday, warning that if such problems linger, the country's annual economic growth rate is expected to stand at only about 5.45 percent in 2016.
The figure of 5.45 percent put forward by Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh at a regular cabinet meeting of the Vietnamese government in Hanoi on Saturday is much lower than the level of 6.7 percent set earlier by the country's National Assembly.
In the first quarter of 2016, the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is estimated to stay at 5.46 percent. The country's economy faces a multitude of difficulties due to severe impacts of drought and saline intrusion, Vietnam's state-run news agency VNA cited a report by the minister at the cabinet meeting on Saturday.
The expansion of the Vietnamese economy in the first quarter of 2016 is lower than the level of 6.12 percent in the same period in 2015.
The drought in Vietnam's central and southern area recently caused the production of rice in the first quarter of 2016 in Mekong Delta region, the country's rice bowl, to drop by 700,000 tons compared to the same period in 2015.
Thus, the growth of agriculture-forestry-fishery sector is likely to decrease 1.23 percent in the first quarter of 2016 year-on-year, according to statistics by the country's General Statistics Office (GSO).
According to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat, the ministry is partnering with localities to adjust crop structure and cultivation methods, while applying biological solutions to ensure water resources for irrigation, reported VNA.
Phat suggested the government promptly allocate 538 billion Vietnamese dong (over 24.1 million U.S. dollars) to assist those affected by natural disasters, especially more than 1 million people facing water shortages.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung called on cabinet members to seek both long and short-term solutions to cope with the impacts of climate change, and speed up relief aid to natural disaster-stricken localities.
Measures to shift the agricultural structure should be put in place to ease the difficulties being burdened by farmers, Dung said, urging greater efforts to be made in opening up the market and increasing exports.
The prime minister asked cabinet members to keep a close watch on the areas under their charge in order to meet the targets set by the legislature, particularly GDP growth rate of 6.7 percent this year.
Since late 2015, countries along the Lancang-Mekong River, including Vietnam, have suffered from drought to varying extents due to the impact of the El Nino phenomenon. China has released emergency water supply from Jinghong Hydropower Station in southwest China's Yunnan Province to downstream Mekong River from March 15 to April 10 to help alleviate drought situation.