Vietnam to compensate farmers for cattle killed by cold
HANOI - Following freezing temperatures that killed a record number of cattle, Vietnam is offering compensation to farmers, a government official said Thursday. "The government has agreed to send support to farmers who lost their cattle in the cold spell," said Hoang Kim Giao, director of the Livestock Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
"The farmers will get one million dong [62.5 dollars] for each animal that died.
Farmers who took out bank loans to buy their cattle will also have their debt rescheduled, he said.
Hoang put the number of dead livestock at 65,975 head, six times the number that died during the harsh 2005-06 winter. He said he expects the number to rise even higher because the most remote districts had not yet reported.
The cold spell, which began a week ago, was one of the longest running and most-severe to hit northern Vietnam in a generation. Temperatures dipped to 15 degrees below zero Celsius in some of Vietnam's mountainous regions.
Families, desperate to keep their animals alive, draped blankets over water buffalos and lit fires for newborn calves. Subsistence farmers face hardship from the loss of even a single cow.
The government promised to send animal feed and blankets to farmers who are bracing for another cold spell due to hit the region next week.
Deutsche Presse Agentur - February 21, 2008.