Vietnamese farmers fear of losing thousands of dollars as drought kills sheep en masse

By Xuan Ngoc   April 7, 2018 | 12:20 am PT
Vietnamese farmers fear of losing thousands of dollars as drought kills sheep en masse
A woman takes care of a sheep which has fallen weak due to strong heat in Ninh Thuan Province. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Ngoc
Food and water supplies for the animals have dried up in Ninh Thuan Province.

Thousands of sheeps are threatened by starvation as searing heat has depleted food and water in the central province of Ninh Thuan and is likely to burn up farmers' thousand-dollar investment.

Dinh Van Hung, 52, of Bac Ai District, said his herd of 240 sheep has been falling weak over the last two months.

As severe drought hit the province in March, scorching grass fields and baking riverbeds, 20 of them have died.

Hung said he invested VND300 million ($13,400) in his herd. “Normally I could sell each for VND1 million ($47), but once they’re dead, they’re only worth a tenth of their original value. And when nobody buys their carcasses, I could only dispose of them,” he said.

Hung’s herd is not the only one succumbing to the deadly heat wave. Tran Cao Hoa, 48, said three of his sheep died on Friday alone.

“I lost 100 sheep last month. I don’t know how many are going to survive,” he said.

Hoa’s herd of 1,400 sheep cost him VND1.5 billion ($67,000). He had anticipated the drought and prepared extra grasses and water, but it was not enough.

Ninh Thuan's animal health officials said the province, which is two hours south of the popular resort town Nha Trang, is raising 160,000 sheep and the number of those killed by the ongoing drought has not been counted. Locals said the fatalities have amounted to several hundred.

They said they are helping farmers find alternative food sources and to build sheds to keep the animals from the scorching sun.

Vietnam has been hit by harsh drought every recent year. In 2016, the worst drought and saltwater intrusion in almost a century cost the country VND15 trillion ($669 million) in agriculture losses, with heavy damage in the Mekong delta, the country's rice basket.

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