Agriculture machinery goes to waste in central Vietnam

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More than US$3 million worth of welfare support has been wasted in a central Vietnamese province with farmers receiving more machinery than needed.

Many machines are left in the fields unused and are rusting away.

Over the past five years, farmers in the mountainous district of Tay Tra, Quang Ngai Province, have been given 322 machines and tools for agricultural production worth nearly VND60 billion in total.

But the district only has around 300 hectares of paddy fields and used very few of the machinery and tools.

Farmer Ho Van Be said the district doesn't harvest much rice each season and one machine of each kind was enough. "There's no need for too many machines," he said.

For more than a year, six tractors worth almost US$26,000 have been left in the paddy fields. They are now rusty and broken.

The machines are part of the Program 135 initiated by the central government in 1998 to support ethnic minority groups and people in mountainous areas escape poverty.

Ho Van Canh, chairman of Tay Tra District, on Thursday told VnExpress the program required that agricultural production tools are bought for the residents, "though I know that the tools are of no use to residents in mountainous areas."

But Nguyen Vuong, deputy head of Quang Ngai Ethnology Department that supervised the program in the province, said his unit didn't decide what or how many machines to buy. It only went by suggestions made by districts or communes who are supposed to consider farmers' real needs, Vuong said.

Another official from the department, who wished not to be named, said "Several localities have bought as many tools as possible to avoid being cricticized by the provincial government for slow disbursement of the support funds."

Vo Van Bay, a budget official at the department, said Tay Tra District officials "should take the full responsibility of the waste."

Bay said the officials had not checked the real living conditions of the farmers before proposing the purchase of the machinery and other tools.

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