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Da Lat hailstorm leaves farmers with debts

Da Lat hailstorm leaves farmers with debts

Thursday, May 09, 2013, 11:12 GMT+7

A number of flower and vegetable farmers in Da Lat have suddenly become big debtors to banks after a devastating hailstorm hit the Central Highlands city on Tuesday.

Local residents today are still talking about the event, a 15-minute hailstorm that was able to destroy even modern, concrete greenhouses.

“The hailstones broke my greenhouse’s roof and eventually collapsed it,” recalled Nguyen Tien Duc, 50, who has been operating the facility for the last three years on Tran Quang Khai Street, the area which received the heaviest damage during the storm.

The total damage is worth some VND600 million (US$28,846), he said, adding that he was also hit by a VND50 million bank loan.

Trinh Thi Kim Hoa, who lives in Ward 8, was one of the worst-affected by the storm. Her 100,000 gladiolus trees, 9,000 cabbages and tens of thousands of other vegetable trees were destroyed by the hail.

Another greenhouse, the Minh Van facility, also had thousands of different trees destroyed, causing VND150 million in damage, according to employees.

Total damage in Ward 8 is estimated at VND5.7 billion, with more than VND4 billion of that coming from destroyed greenhouses, and VND1.7 billion from the devastated crops, according to local authorities.

Phan Cong Ngon, an official from Lam Dong Province’s steering board for preventing and fighting against flood and storm, said his agency will seek permission from the provincial government to provide financial aid to the affected farmers.

“We are waiting for the localities to report the damage caused by the hailstorms to develop the final damage report,” he said.

Most of the affected farmers do not buy insurance for their crops.

“There is no agricultural insurance program here, otherwise I would buy one for my greenhouse,” said Duc.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Van Chieu, director of the Lam Dong branch of Agribank, said the bank will share the hardship with borrowers affected by the hailstorm.

“But we still have to wait for an official proposal from local authorities in case of debt extension or restructuring,” he added.



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