Farmers using river water polluted by cassava factories

Cassava residue on Poko River in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum. — VNA/ VNS Photo Cao Nguyen

KON TUM (VNS) — Farmers in Dak To District’s Tan Canh Commune claim they are forced to use polluted water pumped from the Poko River to water their coffee bushes.

They said the water had a foul smell and contained starch residue, probably from two new cassava processing plants upstream.

According to one resident, Tran Thin, the starch comes from cassava waste pumped into the river.

“The day before yesterday, some households reported a bad smell,” said Tran Dinh Vi, head of Tan Canh Commune’s Village 2.

“Farmers are concentrating on watering to make the coffee bushes blossom. Polluted water will not help,” he said.

Echoing this opinion, Thin said that if farmers used the polluted water it would affect productivity.

As residents water coffee bushes from the top down, polluted water and its residues are highly likely to interfere with blossoming. Normally, flowers appear after plants are watered for about six or seven days.

Thin said that his family’s coffee productivity had fallen in the past two or three years – from three tonnes to 2.7 tonnes and 2.2 tonnes.

The pollution is believed to be in untreated water being released into the river by two factories upstream, the Fococev cassava starch processing factory in Ngoc Hoi District and the Phuong Hoa cassava starch processing factory in Dak Glei District.

Ngo Van Liem, deputy chairman of Dak To District’s People’s Committee, declared that water in the Poko had been polluted.

The district has proposed Kon Tum Province People’s Committee take measures to ensure that people’s lives in Dak To and other districts will not affected.

Yesterday morning, the province’s Natural Resources and Environment and Dak To District’s People’s Committee took water from the river for testing.

Last November, Kon Tum Province’s environmental crime prevention department found that Fococev was illegally discharging untreated waste into the Poko River.

Ever since the plant became operational two years ago, complaints have been received from local residents about environment pollution in the area. — VNS

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