Taiwan’s contribution to an international effort to help Vietnam clear unexploded bombs and reduce poverty has won thanks, not just from the local government but also from farmers who have benefited from the programme, officials said Thursday.
Wu Jung-chuan, deputy chair of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ INGO Affairs Committee, said that since 2009, Taiwan has worked with the Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI) of the United States in carrying out a poverty reduction, livelihood improvement and unexploded ordnance (UXO) removal project in the country’s Quang Tri Province.
One of the farmers told CNA that his 15-year-old son was injured when an unexploded bomb detonated three days after his birth, leaving him unable to talk. Over the years, the boy has had to make his living working on rice paddies and making bricks.
In September, with the help of the Taiwan-US programme, he said, his son set up a mushroom farm near their house and is now earning $140 a month — three times his previous income.
Mushroom cultivation is just one part of the project aimed at helping Vietnamese farmers get out of poverty, Wu said. “With well-developed agriculture and a rich supply of farming experts, I believe Taiwan can help expand the project to benefit even more Vietnamese people,” he added.
HDI Chair Ralph Cwerman agreed, saying that in the coming two years, mushroom-growing techniques will be brought to even more Vietnamese farmers — a process that will require further technical assistance from Taiwan.
One goal, Cwerman said, is to make Quang Tri Province the mushroon capital of Vietnam.
He thanked Taiwan for contributing to the project and noted that he is in talks with more than 30 countries, including Japan and Germany, to solicit more funding.
In terms of the UXO work to clear bombs left from the Vietnam War, he quoted the Vietnamese government as saying it will be a difficult task that is expected to take decades to complete.