More people have been hospitalised in HCM City due to the current hot weather.

Since early this month, the average temperature in HCM City and the southern region has risen to 36-38 degrees centigrade.   

Doctor Nguyen Dinh Qui from HCM City Children's Hospital 2 said that since early March, more children were taken to the hospital. In February, around 4,000 children were hospitalised, but the figure increased to 3,600 in the first two weeks of this month.

Dr. Tang Le Chau Ngoc, head of the hospital’s Gastroenterology Department, said that the ward has around 40-60 patients per day, including 15-20 hospitalised. Among those, 3-5 cases suffer from serious hypohydration. He mentioned a 17-month-old child who faced kidney failure after high fever and diarrhoea.

According to Ngoc, the number of sick children to the hospital could continue rising in the coming days.

The same situation has also been reported at HCM City Children's Hospital 1, particularly children with respiratory diseases.

Thong Nhat Hospital in HCM City has seen more elderly patients. Nguyen Thi Thoa in District 10 said that she has been faced with dizziness and breathing difficulties. She was suspected of having symptoms of a stroke.

HCM City Hospital of Dermato Venereology said it has also seen more patients with diseases such as allergy and pruritus.

Doctor Nguyen Dinh Qui said that diseases related to digestive, respiratory and skin problems account for the highest rate of patients when the weather is hot. He advised that people should not change environments suddenly. People are advised to pay attention to protecting their health during hot weather.

The hot weather has tended to expand to more localities in the southern region.

Dr. Truong Quang Anh Vu from Thong Nhat Hospital said that the number of elderly people treated at the hospital increases around 5-10% per year.

No new COVID-19 cases to report on March 21 morning

Vietnam had no new COVID-19 cases to report in the past 12 hours to 6am March 21, and the death toll remains at 35, according to the Health Ministry.

As of March 21, 2,198 patients have been given the all-clear. The death toll remains at 35.  

Among the patients still under treatment, 37 have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 once, 18 twice and 63 thrice.

Meanwhile, 37,174 people are being quarantined nationwide, with 490 at hospitals, 17,990 at concentrated quarantine facilities and 18,694 at their accommodations.

Journalism training not allowed at private universities

The Ministry of Education and Training has just turned down proposals from several private colleges to launch journalism training courses this year.

The higher education department under the ministry cited a directive on journalism and publishing management as saying that journalism training should be carried out at local public universities under tight management from the state but not at private institutions.

The ministry asked local universities to strictly follow the directive.

At present, journalism training is being provided at nine public universities including the Academy of Journalism and Communication, the University of Social Sciences and Humanities under the Vietnam National University in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the Military University of Culture and Arts, the Hanoi University of Culture, the Vinh University, the Thai Nguyen University, the Hue University, and the Danang University.

However, many graduates from private universities are found working in journalism and publishing after studying communications or public relations.

New highway linking HCM City, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc to be built

A highway connecting HCM City, Thủ Dầu Một (Bình Dương) and Chơn Thành (Bình Phước) will be built in the 2021-25 period under an agreement between HCM City and the Bình Phước People's Committees on March 18.

The PM agreed that the Bình Phước People’s Committee would monitor the investment process of the project.

Bình Phước has proposed lengthening the highway to 70 kilometres instead of 69 kilometres as planned. 

It is estimated to cost about VNĐ36 trillion (US$1.5 billion), including VNĐ17 trillion (US$736 million) from the state budget and VNĐ19 trillion (US$825.7 million) from private investors.

The part through Bình Phước will consist of six lanes sharing the same design as the Đắk Nông - Chơn Thành Highway. 

The 1.5 kilometres through HCM City from the Gò Dừa intersection to the border with Bình Dương will be built as an elevated road and cost VNĐ3 trillion.

Another part through Bình Dương costing VNĐ30 trillion (US$1.3 billion) will be 57 kilometers long, of which 28 kilometres will be an elevated highway. There will be 10 overpasses. The last part through Bình Phước with a length of 11.5 kilometres will cost VNĐ3 trillion (US$130 million).

The provinces are seeking State support for capital investment, including clearance costs.

The HCM - Thủ Dầu Một - Chơn Thành Highway will contribute to the national highway network and connect key cities, facilitating socio-economic development in Bình Phước and the Central Highlands provinces, according to the Bình Phước People’s Committee.

HCM City education dept proposes tuition fee subsidy for private primary schools

The HCM City Department of Education and Training has proposed a tuition fee subsidy for students at private primary schools, similar to what is offered at their public school counterparts.

Lê Hoài Nam, deputy head of the department, said the Law on Education allows local people’s councils to provide a tuition fee subsidy for private primary schools if provinces or cities do not have enough public schools.

Under the proposal, the subsidy would be more than VNĐ5million (US$216.5) per student for one academic year, the same as the one for public primary schools.

The department will continue to ask for opinions from other relevant departments before the People's Committee considers it for approval, Nam said.

The subsidy is expected to help reduce financial pressure on families if their children cannot study at public schools.

It would also help to reduce overcrowding at public schools, which is a barrier to carrying out the new education programme effectively, Nam added.

Forty to fifty students are often in one classroom, but the Ministry of Education and Training's requirements call for no more than 35 students in each classroom.

With the subsidy, investors will be more willing to pour money into schools, he said.  

For the 2020-2021 academic year, the city has more than 25,000 primary students at private schools. Many of these schools are in districts 12, Tân Phú and Gò Vấp where public schools face pressure from student crowding.    

A monthly subsidy of VNĐ70,000 would be offered to public primary students who study two shifts in one day. The subsidy is expected to be provided in the 2021-2022 academic year.

Public primary schools in the city currently collect fees of less than VND150,000 for teaching two shifts in one day. 

Vietnam to ensure “safety first” with “vaccine passport” scheme

Standing members of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control have discussed the preparation of technical and policy solutions to implement the “COVID-19 vaccine passport” scheme while ensuring the principle of “safety first”.

Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said that from the perspective of the health sector, the “COVID-19 vaccine passport” is essentially a certificate confirming the holder has had two shots of COVID-19 vaccine, regulated in line with the Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases and international health quarantine regulations.

Passport holders will not be quarantined and tested for COVID-19, but some other countries still require testing.

Vietnam is working with countries around the world on the acceptance of the passport through QR codes.

To get the “COVID-19 vaccine passport”, people will provide their personal information when receiving a vaccination, which is checked on a validation system. After two injections, the relevant information is confirmed by a QR code. When going abroad, people’s information will be verified when scanning the QR code.

The Ministry of Health and Viettel are piloting the passport scheme at COVID-19 vaccination centres, to evaluate the capacity and compatibility of these facilities.

Meanwhile, relevant technical infrastructure to receive foreign visitors with COVID-19 vaccine passport is expected to be completed and ready for use from April./.

Domestic medicines to meet 75 percent of demand by 2025

Domestic medicines are expected to meet 75 percent of demand and 60 percent of market value by 2025, according to a programme on the development of the pharmaceutical industry and medicines for domestic production till 2030 with a vision to 2045.

Recently approved by the Prime Minister, the programme set the overall goal of building the domestic pharmaceutical industry to level 4 according to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s classification, the top 3 in terms of market value in ASEAN, contributing to ensuring the timely and sufficient supply of safe, quality and effective medicines at reasonable prices.

It also targets developing medicines into a quality and high-value industry that is competitive at home and abroad.

By 2025, the rate of using pharmaceuticals of domestic origin will increase by at least 10 percent from 2020.

At the same time, Vietnam will build eight zones for sustainable exploitation of natural medicinal sources, two to five cultivation areas on a large scale. Each of them will have one to two linkage chains of research, farming and processing following the WHO’s Guidelines on Good Agricultural and Collection Practices.

By early 2030, Vietnam sets to become a pharmaceutical production hub in the region with a total value of nearly 1 billion USD.

To such end, the programme also set out measures regarding institutions, laws, investment, competitiveness improvement, science-technology, workforce training, control of medicine and pharmaceutical market, international cooperation and integration, information and communications.

Accordingly, at least two national-level science-technology tasks using the State budget will be performed in three years while at least five ministry-level pharmaceutical development tasks will be undertaken in one year, focusing on research and production of vaccines as well as national products using domestic medicinal sources./.

Vietnamese film about climate change available to rent online

The latest film by Vietnamese famed director Nguyen Vo Nghiem Minh is available to rent on, giving film fans a chance to indulge in the work of the renowned director.

Entitled Nuoc 2030 (2030), Minh’s film is set in a fictional setting in which the south of Vietnam is submerged in water.

The film was featured as part of the InterAsia Water(s) Graduate Conference, 2021 by Council on Southeast Asia Studies at Yale University on March 18. At this conference, the director also joined a Q&A session via Zoom with the audience.

It is not the first time Minh’s film has been featured in a seminar on climate change. In 2016, Nuoc 2030 was the opening film of European Climate Diplomacy Week. The director was also a speaker at a seminar at the event after the film was screened.

Minh is a Vietnamese-American filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He holds a PhD in physics and used to work as a lecturer before focusing on directing.

Nuoc 2030 was completed and premiered in 2013. In 2015, the film was re-introduced in HCM City during the 19th Vietnam Film Festival.

The film was also featured in the 64th Berlin International Festival in 2014.

A combination of various cinematic elements like mystery, romance and drama, Nuoc 2030 is set in the vast and beautiful coastal regions of Vietnam in the near future when water levels have risen due to global climate change.

South Vietnam is one of the regions most affected by climate change, which causes as much as half the farmland to be swallowed by water. To subsist, people have to live on houseboats and rely solely on fishing with a depleting supply.

The story follows a young woman in her journey to find the truth about the murder of her husband whom she suspects was killed by the people of a floating farm.

In the process, she discovers the secret of that floating farm that employs genetic engineering technology to cultivate vegetables that can be grown using saltwater thus can be produced much cheaper. However, this untested technology can have dangerous health consequences for consumers that the farm wants to keep secret.

The women end up finding out different versions of the truth about her husband’s death and has to make a dramatic decision without knowing the absolute truth.

This is the 65-year-old director's third film after Mua Len Trau (Buffalo Boy) in 2004 and Khi Yeu Dung Quay Dau Lai (Don’t Turn Back When You Are In Love) in 2010.

He received many international accolades and awards for his directorial debut including the New Directors Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago International Film Festival, the FIPRESCI Jury Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and Youth Jury Award at the Locarno International Film Festival./.

Vietnamese-funded new National Assembly Building handed over to Laos

A ceremony was held in Vientiane on March 20 to hand over the new National Assembly Building to the Lao legislature, which is a gift from the Vietnamese Party, State and people.
The hand-over was made on time to serve the first session of the 9th Lao National Assembly.

The ceremony was attended by Vietnamese Minister of Construction Le Quang Hung; Vice Chairman of the Lao National Assembly Somphanh Phengkhammy; and Major General Nguyen Quoc Dung, Commander of the Army Corps 11, the general contractor of the project.

Talking to a Vietnam News Agency reporter at the ceremony, Vice Chairman of the Lao NA and head of the steering committee for the new NA Building project Somphanh Phengkhammy appreciated the efforts of the project’s management board, the investor and related units, particularly the general contractor – Army Corps 11 of Vietnam.
He stressed that despite the great impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the supply of materials and equipment as well as the sending of technical staff to the construction site, the contractor’s workers had worked around the clock to ensure the progress of the project.

Even though the project has not been completed by 100 percent, the building is ready for use at the first session of the 9th legislature of Laos, which is a very important event when the legislature will not only elect key leaders of the Lao NA and Government but also adopt the ninth five-year socio-economic development plan for Laos.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Construction Le Quang Hung said after the first session of the Lao NA, the remaining work will be carried out for the full completion of the project by the end of June.

The Lao NA Building, constructed at a cost of over 111 million USD, will be the venue for meetings of the Lao NA and important ceremonies. It will also serve cultural tours and research trips of the people, students and tourists.

The building is a meaningful present and a symbol of the great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries./.

Beauty pageant for peace launched in Da Nang

The beauty pageant Vietnam Peace Bella 2021 was kicked off at a press conference in the central city of Da Nang on March 20.

Speaking at the press conference, Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy, director of the Minh Khang Vietnam Co. Ltd – the organiser, said the contest aims at promoting Vietnamese women’s beauty and selecting Vietnamese representatives for international pageants.

Deputy head of the Da Nang Department of Culture and Sport Nguyen Thi Hoi An said the local authorities target to turn the city into a venue of events and tourism, noting that Da Nang has so far accepted to host five beauty contests, with the Vietnam Peace Bella 2021 being a highlight of the local summer tourism.

According to the organiser, the pre-qualification rounds will take place in late May for the northern and central regions and in early June for the southern region. The finale will take place on July 3 in Da Nang.

A total of 35 contestants will be selected for the final round, and the winner will be awarded with 100 million VND (4,352 USD), with the first and second runner-ups receiving prizes worth 80 and 60 million VND, respectively.

The organiser will donate part of proceedings to lonely elderly people, disadvantaged children and families of revolutionary contributors in Da Nang./.

Efforts to protect Delacour’s langurs in Ha Nam


Since Fauna & Flora International (FFI) discovered Delacour’s langurs in Kim Bang forest in Ha Nam province in 2016, the organisation has joined hands with local authorities to protect the endangered species.

The Fauna & Flora International, in cooperation with Ha Nam provincial authorities, has introduced a scheme to protect Delacour’s langurs that includes a range of activities, such as raising local awareness and setting up a community-based task force for wildlife conservation.

The task force will be responsible for removing traps and tracking wildlife, particularly Delacour’s langurs. It must remain vigilant about wildlife damage and report any cases to forest rangers.

Their efforts have paid off. Indeed, from 40 Delacour’s langurs in 2016, Kim Bang forest is now home to over 100, ranking it second in the world, behind only Van Long Natural Reserve in Ninh Binh province. Ha Nam is also working on establishing a Delacour’s langur reserve in Kim Bang district.

Delacour’s langurs are rare in nature. The animal is among 25 of the most-endangered species worldwide and on the brink of extinction./.

Seller of rare turtles jailed for 10 years

A man in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for illegally raising and possessing 127 individuals of many rare and endangered turtle species, according to the Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) .

In May 2020, police raided the house of Hoang Minh Trien, 60, at the alert of local people and found the creatures.

They included the Indochinese box turtle, the black marsh turtle and the elongated tortoise, all endangered species.

Earlier, the ENV’s hotline 1800-1522 received many calls informing that Trien's son was using social media to illegally buy and sell turtles of many rare species.

All the turtles found at Trien's house have been sent to the Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Centre./.

Hanoi tourism firms adapt after fourth wave of COVID-19

Right after the fourth wave of COVID-19 in the country was put under control at the beginning of March, travel agencies in Hanoi started offering various products at favourable prices to attract tourists.

VGreen Club (of the Hanoi Travel Agents Association) recently launched a driving tour product themed 'Northwest – Season of Orchid Blooms', which has attracted 1,000 people after the first trip kicked off on March 12.

VietSense Tourism Company has hosted a group of 100 people for a tour that departed on March 6, while Vietravel branches in the north have sold tours to 300 visitors since the beginning of March.

Inside Hanoi, relic sites have seen a surge of guests in the first days after opening again.

“During the Week of Ao Dai (between March 1 and 8), Thang Long Citadel Complex welcomed hundreds of visitors from all over the country,” said Nguyen Thi Yen, head of the Guide Department of the Thang Long – Hanoi Heritage Preservation Centre.

The Hanoi Tourism Department is planning promotion policies together with airlines and travel agents.

“Promotion policies will not only focus on cutting prices but more importantly focus on the quality of product, services and bring fresh experiences to tourists,” Dang Huong Giang, director of Hanoi Department of Tourism.

Phung Quang Thang, director of Hanoitourist Company, chairman of Hanoi Travel Agents Association, said the association has hosted various training classes for building tourism products with sustainable features.

The VGreen Club established by the association will work with the National Museum of Vietnamese History to host a new product – exploring the culture and history of Hanoi and other provinces.

Nguyen Van Tai, director of VietSense Company, said the company is planning more new tours in March and preparing for the peak season of April 30 - May 1 vacation and summer holidays.

"Our new tours will not only focus on key markets in the central and Central Highland regions but will also bring new experiences to tourists,” Tai said.

In April, the Hanoi Investment, Trade and Tourism Centre will run the Hanoi Tourism Promotion Festival.

The Hanoi Tourism Department will work with Hoan Kiem district, Son Tay town and My Duc district to build tourism products bearing Hanoi’s features.

The first will be 'Hanoi – 12 Seasons of Flowers' to draw domestic tourists first and then international visitors when international air routes resume./.

Organisations, agencies in Hanoi donate 12 billion VND to fund for sea, islands

Seventy-three organisations and agencies in Hanoi donated more than 12 billion VND (over half a million USD) to the Fund for Vietnam’s Sea and Islands on March 19.

The donations were collected at the launching ceremony for this year’s first donation drive to collect money for the Fund, held by the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) committee of Hanoi.

Vice Chairman of the VFF committee of Hanoi Nguyen Sy Truong said the warm response to the drive demonstrates that the country’s sea and islands are always in the hearts of Hanoi people.

The fundraising drive aims at raising funds to help build a multi-functional cultural house on Thuyen Chai A Island in Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago and organize a number of activities to promote the country’s sea and islands.

The drive will last until April 15./.

Hanoi needs to take action to reduce plastic waste

The use of plastic bags and products in traditional markets and shops in the capital city of Hanoi has been on the rise again.

Pham Huy, a small trader at a traditional market in Long Bien district, said plastic bags and products were selling in large quantities in local markets because they were not only cheap but also convenient.

It costs 30,000 (1.3 USD) per roll of 100 plastics bags and 20,000 VND (0.8 USD) for 50 plastic cups, he said.

Huy said the number of people shopping at the market was very large and most of them asked for plastic bags. Few people carried their own bags to the market.

“If we do not use plastic bags, we have nothing to store things for our customers,” he said.

An owner of a food shop in Quan Thanh street, Ba Dinh district, said his customers often asked for takeaway food in plastic containers.

Although he knew the impacts of plastic bags and products on the environment, he still bought them to store food for his customers, he said.

Hong Ha, a resident of Ba Dinh district, said due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, food and beverage outlets had to close and only sell online.

People often ordered using popular applications such as Grab and Now to eat and drink at home, she said.

The shops often used plastics bags and products to wrap up their wares for shippers to bring to customers, she said.

Plastic bags float on Quang Man sea in Da Nang (Photo: VNA)
In 2019, the city issued Plan No 232/KH-UBND on 'Preventing plastic waste and bags by 2020, a vision towards 2025', calling on local administrative and public service agencies and State-owned enterprises not to use disposable plastic products and plastic bags, as well as mobilising organisations and individuals to say no to disposable plastic products.

The municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment has urged relevant agencies to strengthen dissemination to improve people’s awareness of the impacts of plastic waste on the environment. The agencies were told to find alternative materials to reduce the use of plastic products.

The department would conduct surveys on the use of disposable plastic products and the demand for recycled products to find alternative products to replace disposable plastic in local traditional markets and trade centres.

The department also compiled mechanisms to support enterprises to manufacture environmentally-friendly packaging.

It was strengthening inspections and encouraging enterprises to manufacture environmentally-friendly packaging and pilot training programmes to improve capacity to design environmentally-friendly products for commercial, service and manufacturing facilities in the city.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), around the world, 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide annually. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once and then thrown away./.

Concert features works by 20th-century's lesser-known composers

A concert introducing works from composers that have not been performed much in Vietnam will take place at Goethe Institute in Hanoi on March 22.

The concert, the first of the '20th Century Music Concert Series', will present a repertoire featuring works by composers from Japan to Eastern and Western Europe and America, including Benjamin Britten, György Ligeti, Toru Takemitsu, Nikolai Kapustin, Friedrich Gulda, and Frederic Rzewski.

Artists and lecturers of Inspirito School of Music, including oboist Hoang Manh Lam, trumpeter Yuki Urushihara, pianists Ngo Phuong Vi, Luu Duc Anh, Duong Hong Thach, and Pho Duc Hoang, will perform in the concert.

The concert will start at 7pm. The Goethe Institute is at 56-58-60 Nguyen Thai Hoc street. Recommended donation is 100,000 VND.

Tourism forum aims to seek ways to lure visitors

The Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA) and the Hanoi Tourism Department will jointly hold a national forum on tourism in April in the capital to discuss how to draw tourists in the future.

“While waiting for the opening of doors to international tourists, the tourism sector this year will focus on the domestic market,” said VITA Vice Chairman Vu The Binh.

“The forum will gather tourism enterprises and localities throughout the nation to connect and discuss ways to develop domestic tourism," he added.

He said some localities have used promotions to try to win customers but in early 2021, a third of domestic travel agencies no longer wanted to exploit international routes and 90 percent of tourism enterprises stopped or reduced their operation scale.

“The tourism sector has run out of power to promote tourism,” he said.

Binh explained that the forum will offer a chance for participants to connect services and create new products to lure visitors.

After the forum, the annual Vietnam International Travel Mart will be held between May 5 and 8.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, demand for searching information on domestic destinations has sharply increased recently, especially as Vietnam basically controlled the COVID-19 pandemic. Domestic travel activities have resumed in almost all provinces and cities nationwide.

Though demand for airline information from domestic tourists has not increased much recently according to statistics from the Destination Insights tool by Google, searches for short trips in nearby destinations rose markedly in March.

Binh noted the statistics show that tourists now prefer short trips to near places by their own vehicles and avoid public transportation due to fear of the virus./.

Hue bookcase project debut first publication

A book entiled “Dia chi Van hoa Hue” (Hue culture chorography) has recently been debuted as the first publication of the central province of Thua Thien Hue’s bookcase project on the local cultural and tourist hub - Hue city.

The book is a massive collection of works from experienced cultural researchers, presenting a basis for future selection of books to add to the bookcase, which is planned to have three new publications annually.

At the debut ceremony held on March 17, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Phan Ngoc Tho said the formation of the bookcase aims to introduce Hue through books, promote reading culture, introduce valuable publications, create a special gift set of the city, and build a scientific data serving studies on the province.

It will contribute to turning Thua Thien – Hue into a centrally run city of culture and heritage following the Politburo’s Resolution 54-NQ/TW, he stated.

An app of the bookcase is being developed to help its contents reach readers in Vietnam and overseas./.

Advisory board suggests reopening borders to foreign tourists from July

Vietnam could reopen to foreign tourists from this July, a Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) representative suggested, noting that the COVID-19 outbreak has been basically brought under control and vaccination campaigns are underway in the country and many others around the world.

Head of the TAB Secretariat Hoang Nhan Chinh said China, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and ASEAN countries are sources of tourists near Vietnam, and their people go travelling all year round.

The peak travelling season in Japan is March and August, so the pilot reopening could be conducted in July to attract visitors from this market.

Meanwhile, Vietnam could start welcoming back tourists from certain faraway markets like Australia, Russia, and Europe from around October, according to Chinh.

He held that if vaccination is carried out well in Vietnam, especially for the frontline forces, it will provide a good opportunity to attract holidaymakers. Besides, only when international travellers have vaccination certificates should Vietnam open the door to them.

Chinh also stressed that the reopening of borders to foreign tourists needs thorough preparations right from now, and that Vietnam shouldn’t receive international travellers back if it hasn’t been fully geared up.

The country needs to prepare response plans for many different scenarios and build a safe reopening road map, he said, adding that the TAB has sent a letter submitting related proposals to the Prime Minister.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, tourism had contributed more than 10 percent of Vietnam’s GDP and generated over 30 billion USD in annual revenue./.

Khmer woman prospers thanks to pomelo business

A Khmer woman in the Mekong Delta province of Kiên Giang has started a successful pomelo-growing business.

Thanks to a loan from the Government's project to support women to start businesses, Danh Thị Kim Ảnh in Phước Ninh Hamlet, Mong Thọ B Commune of Châu Thành District invested in growing green-skin and pink-flesh pomelos and earns hundreds of millions đồng profit every year.

“Previously, my family was so poor. We just lived on planting rice that brought low and unstable income," Ảnh said.

“Although we had a 4,000sq.m garden, we left it abandoned because we did not have money to buy seedlings,” she added.

After many years of saving, Ảnh bought 20 green-skin and pink-flesh pomelo trees from the neighbouring province of Đồng Tháp to plant.

The results showed that this grapefruit variety suited the climate and soil of the region.

However, she lacked the capital to grow on a larger scale.

In a meeting of the Women's Union of Mong Thọ B Commune in 2017, she proposed her start-up idea and was provided with a loan of VNĐ50 million (US$2,100) from the Policy Bank under the project to support women to start businesses in 2017-2025.

With the money, Ảnh renovated a 1,000sq.m area of the garden and planted 100 more grapefruit trees.

She was also provided training courses on cultivation and was instructed by agricultural engineers on growing, caring and fertilising techniques to ensure product safety.

By 2020, her pomelo garden was ready to harvest. Ảnh harvested nearly four tonnes of fruits and earned VNĐ180-200 million (US$7,000 – 8,600) of turnover, of which the profit was VNĐ100 million ($4,300).

After gaining the profit, Ảnh planted 200 more trees to cover the 4,000sq.m garden.

“Recently, Châu Thành District’s Women’s Union approved a loan worth VNĐ100 million from the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies for me to invest in renovating the irrigation system which helped the pomelo grow better,” she said.

It is expected that in the next two years, when 4,000sq.m of the pomelo garden brings a steady harvest, Ảnh's family will earn VNĐ300-400 million ($13,000-17,000) per year.

Ảnh’s pomelos have received good reviews from clients because they are so juicy and sweet.

Ảnh used the loans effectively to develop her business, said Huỳnh Thị Ngọc Vàng, deputy president of Mong Thọ B Commune’s Women’s Union.

“She had a clear start-up orientation and was always industrious and diligent,” Vàng said.

“Importantly, she complied with cultivation techniques and processes so she achieved high economic efficiency,” she said.

“Ảnh’s successful model motivated local people to learn and follow. At present, many households have applied Ảnh’s model and earn stable incomes and this has helped them escape from poverty,” she said.

Speaking about her initial success, Ảnh said: “To achieve success in starting my own business, I had to work hard, with burning passion and spirit to overcome difficulties.”

“In my experience, women needed to know what they are passionate about to have a suitable entrepreneurial direction,” the Khmer woman said.

“Once pursued, it is necessary to work hard, persevere and constantly learn from other people,” she said. 

Tien Giang expands crop-rotation cultivation, improves productivity

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tiền Giang plans to expand rotation cultivation models for rice and other crops in its eastern area in an aim to improve productivity and cope with natural disasters, its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has said.

The eastern area, which includes Gò Công Đông and Gò Công Tây districts and Gò Công Town, accounts for 28 per cent of the province’s total area and has advantages in fruit orchards and marine economy, but faces saltwater intrusion and drought in the dry season.

Nguyễn Văn Mẫn, director of the department, said the province plans to focus on growing more vegetables and other short-term crops to 2025 in the eastern area. Only two rice crops a year will be grown, while rice and other crops on rice fields will be rotated.

Under the plan, the province will transfer advanced farming techniques and encourage farmers to use Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP).

Co-operative groups as well as co-operatives will be expected to continue to work with companies to secure outlets for their members.

Gò Công Đông District, one of the major producers of rice and agricultural products in Tiền Giang, has 10 agricultural co-operatives that have contracts with companies.

This has helped secure outlets and provide stable incomes for their members.

Nguyễn Văn Nhẫn, director of the Tăng Hoà Agriculture Service Co-operative in Gò Công Đông District’s Tăng Hoà Commune, said the co-operative for many years has had contracts with companies to produce rice seeds and high – quality rice.

The co-operative produces high-quality rice on 50ha with an output of 250 tonnes a crop, he said. Companies purchase its rice at a price of VNĐ300 a kilogramme higher than the market price, he said.

The Tân Đông Clean Vegetable Co-operative in Gò Công Đông District’s Tân Đông Commune is growing clean vegetables on a total of 30ha with a daily output of 2.5-3 tonnes, using advanced farming techniques.

Trần Văn Bương, chairman of Tân Đông Co-operative, said the co-operative will encourage members to apply more advanced techniques to produce clean vegetables under VietGAP standards.

The co-operative will also encourage its members to expand the use of hydroponic farming, net houses and poly-green houses to grow vegetables.

Nguyễn Văn Qúi, head of the Gò Công Đông Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the district has two concentrated clean vegetable growing areas in Bình Nghị, Tân Đông and Tân Tây communes.

The two areas are guaranteed outlets by three agricultural co-operatives – the Bình Nghị Clean Vegetable Co-operative, the Tân Đông Clean Vegetable Co-operative and the Tân Tây Agriculture Service Co-operative, he said.

The three co-operatives have contracted with farmers to buy vegetables and later sell them to supermarkets and wholesale markets in and outside the province.

“Farmers in the concentrated clean vegetable growing areas now feel more secure about their products,” he said.

All communes in Gò Công Đông have agreements between companies, cooperatives and farmers to secure outlets for rice, vegetables and fruits for co-operative members.

To mitigate the impact of saltwater intrusion in the dry season this year, farmers in the eastern area have switched to growing vegetables or short-term crops on 2,700ha of rice fields that have problems accessing irrigation water.

In the ongoing 2020-21 winter-spring crop, farmers in the eastern area have planted more than 11,500ha of various types of vegetables and other short-term crops, which offer higher profit than high-quality rice, according to the department.

Farmers who grow leaf vegetables can earn a profit 2.6 times higher than that from high-quality rice. 

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park tops hospitable destination list

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh leads the way in terms of the most hospitable destinations nationwide, according to the annual Traveler Review Awards recently announced by travel website

This year’s awards have been based on more than 130 million reviews completed by tourists who previously rented rooms in specific destinations.

Coming in behind Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is Hoi An city in Quang Nam province, followed by Ninh Binh province, Sa Pa town in Lao Cai province, and Mai Chau district in Son La province.

The Traveler Review Awards is part of renowned travel website and is held with the aim of recognising the hospitality of each location and is based on the ratings given by travelers following their vacation. 

This comes as Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was ranked 15th position in a list of the most popular national parks as voted on by TripAdvisor last year./.

First refill station in Hội An strives to reduce plastic waste

To stop people throwing away empty glass or liquid bottles, a shop in central Viet Nam is offering refills to help protect the environment and give containers a new cycle of life.

Refillables Hoi An is located in Cẩm Thanh Commune, Hội An City and sells eco-friendly products without packaging by refilling containers.

Hội An City in the central region of Việt Nam's Quang Nam Province, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hội An Ancient Town, is aiming to become a green destination for tourists by 2025 and to reduce the single-use plastic waste. Refill stations established by local businesses are contributing to that goal.

The concept of refill stations has become familiar in big cities like Hà Nội and HCM City in recent years but in the central region, Refillables Hoi An is the first of its kind.

Two years ago when Alison Batchelor, an expat in Hội An, opened the shop, the first products she introduced were chemical-free dish soap, hand soap and floor cleaners made from natural ingredients.

The soap containers lead to a lot of plastic waste as customers have to buy them over and over again, so Batchelor thought she could cut down on that waste.

She partnered with a company in Đà Nẵng which makes those soaps from fermented organic waste and stocked them in her shop.

Over the past two years, Refillables Hoi An has welcomed customers including local residents, both Vietnamese and expats, service providers and even schools to refill dish soap, floor cleaners and hand soap. More than 13,000 containers have been refilled so far.

Many hotels, restaurants and coffee shops such as Nourish Eatery, Urban Fresh, Market Bar and Mùa have borrowed containers from Refillables Hoi An, had them refilled with soap and returned them to Refillables Hoi An when the liquid runs out. Most of them continue to refill over and over again.

Lê Thị Ánh Dương, a waitress at the Nourish Eatery in Cẩm Thanh Commune, said: “Our coffee shop refills containers once every one and a half months because we order quite a lot each time. We often have dish soap, liquid detergent and vinegar refilled. We refill 10 litres of dishwashing liquid each time.”

“We chose Refillables Hoi An because of their good quality products. The dish soap made from natural ingredients does not harm our hands. Dishes cleaned with the soap are very clean.

“After using all detergent liquid in the refilled bottles, we return the bottles to the refill station and avoid throwing them to the environment. It’s pretty economically efficient and helps reduce costs for our shop.”

While a lot of companies, shops, coffee shops and restaurants in Hội An had to be closed during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in the region, Refillables Hoi An maintained its operation as a sustainable business, encouraging people to recycle under the motto of "refilled not landfill".

“It’s been really amazing as more people are finding the time to come here and bring their containers and recognise that they are not more expensive, in a lot of cases, are cheaper than what we’ve been paying.

"They can come, refill, help the environment and find products better for their health,” said Batchelor.

“Obviously at some point, those containers will get to the landfill whether they are broken or just at some point along the way, someone throws it away. But by refilling it, even one time, that’s saving one more container from going into the landfill,” she told Việt Nam News.

“The container that’s brought in to be refilled can be anything from a small-sized bottle of essential oil. It can also be up to a 30-litre container,” Batchelor said.

“We do prefer glass containers because glass containers tend to have a longer lifespan. But we do also encourage people to continue using plastic containers they have because they are still quality containers. By sending it prematurely or sending it before it’s broken, we are just adding more and more plastic unnecessarily to the landfill that is already overflowing. So just keep using it until it breaks.”

Return to the earth

Holding a handful of soapberry in her hand, Alison said the berry came from the lychee family and could be used as detergent.

“You can put them into a bowl of water and start seeing bubbles. Take 12 of them and put them in a mesh bag and then into a washing machine, they can clean your machine as detergent.

“Take 15 of them in five cups of water and boil in 45 minutes, you can get concentrate liquid used as detergent, simple surface spray or floor cleaner. With five cups of liquid, you can have 4-4.5 cups of concentrate, which costs about VNĐ15,000, simple and cheap,” she said.

“Squeeze it, if you still can see the bubbles coming out, it still has life. If not, put it into the garden, compost it, and make it return to the earth. Then you don’t cost any plastic waste or chemical waste to the community.”

“We are targeting the middle to lower financial demographic of the community, which means everybody can afford to come to refill.”

“If somebody can come in, I’m not saying a sachet costs from VNĐ3,000 to 5,000. They can come here with their container and they can use that VNĐ3,000-5,000 and they can get more product than they would in that sachet. So we can start helping the community by managing their money, better in getting more for their money,” she said.

Besides home and personal care products, Refillables Hoi An also refills dried food and seasoning like pepper, Himalayan pink salt, nuts, rice, organic cinnamon, ginger, turmeric powder as well as ingredients for eating clean like chia seeds, oats, quinoa.

During the pandemic, people have more time to explore do-it-yourself (DIY) products for their skin or hair. Many customers have come to refill baking soda, coconut oil and essential oil for their DIY products.

“It can be far more cost-effective than buying something at the shop,” Batchelor said.

As Batchelor's store is the first refill station in Hội An and there are few others in the central region, she said she wanted to promote community outreach and work with the community and Women's Union to try to create different products with them and distribute eco-friendly products to smaller refillable stations in the town and expand the refilling model in the region.

“As we’ve seen more refill stations opening up across Việt Nam, I think it can really have an incredible impact. We definitely feel refilling is one aspect that we can provide to the community and it’s only one aspect of the solution for Hội An to become a zero-waste city,” she said.

Vietnamese translators honoured for boosting cultural ties with Kazakhstan

Kazakhstani Ambassador to Vietnam Yerlan Baizhanov has awarded Certificates of Merit from the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Kazakhstan to Vietnamese writers and translators in honour of their contributions to cultural co-operation between the nations.

The four Vietnamese translators pose for a photo with Kazakhstani Ambassador Baizhanov (middle)
Those in honour include writer-translator Hoang Thuy Toan, translator Doan Danh Nghiep, in addition to teachers-translators Vu The Khoi and Le Duc Man.

According to information released by the Kazakh Embassy, translators Toan, Nghiep, and Man have contributed to increasing and developing cultural links between both sides through their involvement in a project aimed at translating the literary work "The Book of Words" of Abai Kunanbayev. This individual is renowned for being a philosopher, poet, civilizer, composer, and the founder of the new culture of the Kazakh nation.

Furthermore, Toan is a famous translator who has translated many literary works from Russian into Vietnamese. At present he is the director of the Fund for the Promotion of Vietnamese Literature and Russian Literature under the Vietnam Writers Association.

Teacher Khoi has also made contributions to the development of links between the two countries, as well as promoting the legacy of Kazakhstan's sage-scholar Al-Farabi.

As an outstanding teacher, Khoi was formerly Dean of the Russian Language Department of Hanoi University of Languages and International Studies.

The awards ceremony took place on the premises of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Hanoi to mark the the occasion of Kazakhstan's traditional New Year Nauryz Meiramy. The event featured the participation of President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO) Nguyen Phuong Nga, Russian Ambassador to Vietnam Konstantin Vnukov, and Armenian Ambassador to Vietnam Vahram Kazhoyan.

Kazakhstani Ambassador Baizhanov also gave a presentation to introduce traditional Kazakh instruments, various folk music genres of the Central Asian nation, and some folk and modern songs that are native of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan and Vietnam moved to officially establish diplomatic relations in 1992, with the Vietnamese side opening an embassy in the capital Astana, now renamed Nur-Sultan, in 2008. Following this, Kazakhstan opened an embassy in Hanoi in 2013.

In terms of foreign policy, Ambassador Baizhanov stated that both nations share many similarities, such as having good relations with global powers as well as with their neighbours.

Wanted Korean suspect arrested in Hanoi

Police forces operating in Hanoi have arrested a Korean man who is wanted by Interpol for committing telecom fraud.

The 32-year-old suspect has been as named Kim Changhook and is a member of a group running a telecommunication scam in China.

The group were making random calls to Korean victims during which they pretended to be staff members of KB Bank and offered loans with low interest rates. Their aim was to entice the victims into transferring money to their bank accounts.

The nation had been asked to co-operate with Interpol’s investigation in an effort to find the suspect as police forces had noticed that he had gone on the run to foreign countries after being charged.

The Korean suspect was successfully arrested after being detected hiding at his half-brothers’ aprartment in My Dinh ward of Hanoi.

Police in the capital then handed over the Korean suspect to Korean authorities at Noi Bai International Airport on March 18.

Three people arrested for plans to sell baby in China

Police forces in Quang Ninh province have announced the arrest of three individuals after they attempted to smuggle a newborn baby into China for the purpose of selling the child for profit.

Three suspects are arrested by Quang Ninh police for plans to sell baby in China
In addition, the suspects were also caught in possession of drugs, according to the arresting officers.

The arrests of the trio came following co-operation between border guards in Quang Ninh province and the Police Department for the Investigation of Drug-Related Crimes.

The three individuals include Vu Ngoc Anh, born in 1963, and Nguyen Thi Thuong, born in 2002, both of whom reside at No.88 Yen Phu street in Yen Phu ward of Ba Dinh district in Hanoi. In addition, Hoang Van Thanh, born in 1992, of Quan Son in Chi Lang district of Lang Son province was also arrested.

This discovery came following border forces spotting three suspicious people carrying a newborn baby across the border into China.

Furthermore, a total of 50 grams of white power and 70 pink pills which were believed to contain heroin and drugs were also found stashed inside Thanh’s luggage.

Upon being questioned at the police station, the suspects admitted to purchasing the baby for VND15 million from a 19 year-old woman residing in Dong Minh commune of Tien Hai district in Thai Binh province.

At present, the police will continue to investigate the case.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes