Animal waste growing threat

HA NOI — Large volumes of untreated animal waste are being dumped directly into the environment, posing a severe threat to both the environment and human health, agricultural experts have said. Reports from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Livestock Breeding Department showed that rapid growth in the livestock population, which reached about 300 million poultry and 37 million cattle last year, has caused serious problems with about 85 million tonnes of animal waste being discharged into the environment.

However, the management of animal waste treatment received little attention. Only 8.7 per cent of 8.5 million livestock breeding households have built biogas cellars for treating animal waste while about 37 per cent of 18,000 modern farms were not equipped with waste treatment systems. Nguyen Quynh Hoa, a representative from the department, said that the implementation of waste treatment procedures in both modern farms and households remained limited. Breeders still disposed of dead livestock improperly and many waste systems were sub-standard, she said. This caused environmental pollution and affected surrounding households, she said. Research results from the ministry in 2006 showed that more than 23 per cent of 134 water samples in wells were contaminated, located about 50m far away from domestic waste dumping sites. The nearer the sites were, the more polluted the water was, it said. Hoa blamed the situation on the shortage of waste treatment inspectors, as well as the poor division of responsibilities between relevant agencies. Most of agricultural authorities at provincial levels had no group devoted entirely to agricultural impact on the environment, even though there are 12 ministries in charge of environmental issues. Besides, most livestock breeding households were small and located in residential areas, which hindered authorised agencies from inspecting and punishing violations. Ho Ngoc Hung, Deputy director of central Binh Dinh Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that there were only 80 inspectors working in the province, due to a shortage of human resources, and so they had been forced to ignore slaughtering processes at over 600 private houses. Thus, all of these abattoirs dumped untreated animal waste. According to agricultural experts, the Government should speed up progress on planning breeding areas while strengthening management of the environment. A supportive financial policy should be introduced to encourage breeders to build waste systems at their farms. A reduction equivalent to half of the construction cost of the system has been proposed to the Government recently, they said. — VNS




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