Vietnam targets 500,000 tonnes of seaweed yield by 2030


Hanoi: The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has set a target to produce some 500,000 tonnes of seaweed by 2030 as part of the nation’s seafood development strategy.

With a view to spurring seaweed cultivation, the ministry will submit a proposal to the Prime Minister to develop seaweed as a major product in the seafood industry.

According to General Director of the MARD’s Directorate of Fisheries Tran Dinh Luan, Vietnam had some 16,500 hectares of seaweed that yielded 150,000 tonnes in 2023.

Green caviar and Kappaphycus alvarezii plantation respectively gained farmers some 150-200 million VND (over 6,100 – 8,100 USD), and 60-80 million VND per hectare.

The country has more than 887 kinds of natural seaweed with 88 varieties holding economic value that can be grown on a potential area of 900,000 hectares.

With the global market growing 10% per year and a green consumption boom, the seaweed sector holds huge potential for further development. Kelp is an amazing carbon dioxide absorber.
It is able to take in five times more carbon than most land-based plants, creating an opportunity to sell carbon credits through its cultivation.

However, Luan pointed out several challenges of the sector, with a shortage of cultivation standards, environmental pollution and climate change to name as a few.

In the coming time, the sector will focus on the nearshore plantation of green caviar and gracilaria verucosa from the north central province of Thanh Hoa to the south central province of Binh Thuan. It will also develop offshore cultivation of Kappaphycus alvarezii and imported varieties in the northern province of Quang Ninh and Hai Phong city, the central provinces of Quang Ngai, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan, and the southern provinces of Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Ca Mau and Kien Giang/.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Fight against cross-border smuggling tightened


Lang Son: The customs force is stepping up the fight against cross-border smuggling in northern Lang Son province.

This move follows booming import-export activities across these border gates as domestic consumer demand increases ahead of the Tet holiday. Rising cross-border shipments can correspond with an increase in smuggling and trade fraud.

Customs officials at Huu Nghi International Border Gate have been implementing new legal regulations related to customs and import and export policies to create favourable conditions for customs clearance and good trading.

Officials are also closely inspecting goods and their origins and conducting more comprehensive post-customs clearance inspections.

Deputy head of the Huu Nghi Border Gate Customs Branch Phung Van Ba said his unit has deployed solutions to combat smuggling and trade fraud by increasing the screening of goods from declaration stage and each stage beyond.

The unit will mark shipments that violate procedures for additional inspection to ensure tha
t businesses do not violate shipping procedures, he said.

Deputy head of Tan Thanh Customs Branch Nong Quang Hung said his unit has strictly controlled vehicles transporting goods into and out of shipping yards.

The unit has also focused on classifying import and export channels and closely monitoring warehouses and other storage areas for goods. He added that his unit has discovered and handled at least 63 violations, imposing administrative fines of over 4 billion VND in 2023.

Vu Tuan Binh, Deputy Director of the Lang Son Customs Department, said that the department has directed border gate customs units to specifically inspect exported and imported goods and items with high tax rates to prevent smuggled and counterfeit goods.

He said customs authorities will collaborate with relevant government entities to strengthen the fight against smuggling, trade fraud, and counterfeit good shipments along busy shipping routes.

Lang Son province is now home to seven border gates – Chi Ma, Tan Thanh, Coc Nam, Na N
ua, Na Hinh, Huu Nghi and Dong Dang.

According to the department, in 2023, units handled over 1,500 violations of smuggling, trade fraud, and counterfeit goods and issued fines totaling over 8.3 billion VND.

Late last year, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang issued a plan for the prevention and control of cross-smuggling ahead of the 2024 Tet holiday.

Under the plan, relevant ministries, agencies, and localities are required to build and implement campaigns to prevent smuggling, trade fraud, and counterfeit products through the Tet period and beyond.

Measures include increased inspections and patrols along border areas and at border gates, seaports, airports, and routes where smugglers often transport goods and commodities into Vietnam.

The Deputy Prime Minister also asked government bodies to strengthen market inspections, including inspections of the e-commerce platforms and social network pages such as Facebook, Zalo, and TikTok.

The Deputy Prime Minister’s plan also emphasised a focus on preventin
g the smuggling of banned products, low-quality products, high-tax products, and essential commodities serving consumers during Tet./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Tam, Quynh carry Vietnam’s Olympics hopes in boxing


Hanoi: Nguyen Thi Tam is expected to make her second Olympic appearance while Luu Diem Quynh hopes to make her debut at the largest global sporting event this summer.

Vietnam’s two highest potential boxers will seek their places at a World Qualification Tournament held from February 29-March 12 in Busto Arzizio, Italy.

Tam was the first female Vietnamese boxer to qualify for the Olympics at the Tokyo Games in 2021.

Competing in the women’s 50kg class, Tam has been Vietnam’s most experienced international fighter, a remarkable achievement to bring home.

In 2023, Tam made a big bang when she took a silver at the world championship. Unfortunately, she did not qualify for the Olympics as the event was not recognised as a qualification.

“Tam is training hard with highest determination for the Italian event,” said head coach Nguyen Nhu Cuong.

“She is in her peak currently and confident with her preparation. However, we are working with high alert because it is the world qualifier which will gather all the str
ongest competitors. It will not be easy to secure a place.”

While Tam is a famous veteran, Quynh is a rising star of the national team after she won bronze at the 19th Asian Games last October in China.

Quynh did not receive much attention until the Hangzhou Games, where she took the only medal for Vietnam boxing.

Other fighters of Vietnam are 2023 SEA Games champion Ha Thi Linh in the women’s 60kg; 2022 Thailand Open winner Vo Thi Kim Anh in the women’s 54kg; and 2023 world championship participant Nguyen Thi Thanh Hao in the women’s 57kg.

After Italy, athletes will have their last chance at the second World Qualification Tournament from May 23-June 3 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Athletes are training in Hanoi under the support of Thai expert Tawan Mungphingklang who came back to Vietnam in late 2023.

In his eight years working in Hanoi from 2013, he helped Vietnamese boxing gain 2019 world championship bronze, 2017 Asian championship gold and a 2020 Olympic spot, along with golds at the 2015 and 2019 SEA Gam
es.

‘We have set specific goals for the qualifiers. Athletes are practicing hard under best conditions and their coaches make daily reports to us. It is all to help them get ready and have good results at the upcoming competitions,” said Dam Cong Dien of the Sports Authority of Vietnam’s Boxing Department.

As many as 50 athletes will qualify through the Italian tournament, including 22 women and 28 men.

Between 45 and 51 athletes (20-23 women and 25-28 men) will qualify through the Thai event.

At Paris 2024, a total of 248 boxers will compete, including 124 women and 124 men. Boxing competition will take between July 27 and August 10 in the Roland-Garros Stadium and the North Paris Arena./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Attracting overseas Vietnamese intellectuals back home is most important: Professor

HCM City: The policy to attract overseas Vietnamese (OV) intellectuals will be more successful when it has open mechanisms, clear regulations, and a favourable working environment for scientists to utilise their creativity, according to an OV professor.

This idea was shared by Prof., Dr. Vo Van Toi, currently Assistant to the Board of Directors for the development of science, engineering and technology in health and life, at the International University within the Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City.

In 2009, after more than 40 years of living and working in Switzerland and the US, Toi decided to return to Vietnam and establish the subject of biomedical engineering at the International University, with the desire to contribute more to the homeland.

At that time, in Vietnam, biomedical engineering was not known to many people, and the development of this subject faced many difficulties.

However, the faculty has to date gained a lot of achievements in training and research, thus helping the Vietn
amese biomedical engineering sector to become known to the international community.

From his story and practical experiences, Toi said that in order to succeed in attracting a contingent of OV intellectuals, it is important to have open mechanisms and clear regulations, and most importantly, the people implementing those policies and mechanisms must be dedicated and talented.

When someone achieves success from those open mechanisms, they will be magnets attracting many others to return to the homeland, he stressed.

According to the professor, Vietnam’s sending of citizens to attend training courses abroad is a good policy. However, it is more important to attract and utilise ‘brainpower’ from abroad./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

‘Amihan’, easterlies to continue to bring rains across PH

MANILA: Most parts of the country will continue to have cloudy skies with light rains on Sunday.

In its 4 a.m. bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said ‘amihan’ or the northeast monsoon will affect Northern Luzon, while the easterlies will prevail over the eastern section of Visayas and Mindanao.

Cagayan Valley and Aurora province will have cloudy skies with light rains.

Ilocos Region and the Cordillera Administrative Region will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rains.

Metro Manila and the rest of the country will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms caused by the easterlies. Flash floods or landslides may occur.

Meanwhile, winds will be moderate to strong in the eastern sections of Southern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and coastal waters will be moderate to rough.

Moderate winds and coastal waters will be experienced in Northern Luzon.

The rest of the country will have light to m
oderate winds and light to moderate coastal waters.

Source: Philippines News Agency

On Love and Lent

DARAGA: In case you haven’t checked your February 2024 calendar yet, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day.

With two seemingly contrasting holidays sharing the same date-as the start of the liturgical 40-day season of Lent requires fasting and abstinence while the most romantic day of the year encourages luxurious indulgences-this year’s February 14th is bound to test people’s priorities.

The February 14 conundrum

For the Catholic faithful and other Christian denominations who observe Lent, this year’s calendar mashup provides a challenging conundrum.

Because Ash Wednesday officially begins the 40-day period of prayer, fasting, and alms giving in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery, which is commemorated during the Holy Week. This sacred day, along with Good Friday, requires obligatory fasting and abstinence.

As such, Catholics over the age of 14 must abstain from consuming meat, while those aged 18 to 59 are permitted to eat only one full meal.

Fr. Kevin James Fonacier, parochi
al vicar at St. Jude Thaddeus Filipino-Chinese Personal Parish in Legazpi City, however, clarified that abstinence goes far beyond meat intake.

“Catholics are to give up not just meat but also other indulgences to unite one’s self to the sacrifice of Jesus on the desert, which is the inspiration of the celebration of the season of Lent,” he said.

Aside from prayer, fasting, and abstinence, Catholics are also encouraged to spend time helping those in need.

But in a country known for its penchant for excessive consumerism and romantic indulgences, the ethos and ascetic practices of Ash Wednesday seemingly stand in stark contrast with the obsessive materialism of Valentine’s Day.

In fact, renowned anthropologist Nestor Castro, who is an expert on Philippine culture, said Feb. 14 is often celebrated by couples and lovers with fancy dinners, bouquets of red roses, heart-shaped balloons, decadent chocolates, and grand displays of affection.

He believes that these Valentine’s Day practices will continue, even i
f it is Ash Wednesday, because “Filipinos differentiate religiosity with sexuality.”

So how should Catholics observing Lent navigate the Valentine’s Day fever?

Fonacier said the solution lies in being “creative” when it comes to showing love for others.

For Maria Jira Apuya, a mother who has been married for 14 years, being “creative” means moving the celebration to a later date, going for meatless alternatives, and refraining from sweet treats.

“Ash Wednesday is a holy day, so it can’t be rescheduled. Valentine’s Day celebrations can wait,” she said.

This coming 14th, this special education teacher said receiving the cross of ashes on her forehead will be at the top of her list.

“Ash Wednesday calls for self-sacrifice,” she said, adding that instead of going on a family date, they intend to use the time for spiritual introspection.

Making the secular sacred

In 2018 and 1945, Ash Wednesday also coincided with Valentine’s Day. These two holidays are bound to overlap again in 2029 and 2096, just a few y
ears before the century ends.

While it may seem contrapuntal to start the penitential season on the most romantic day of the year, Fr. Fonacier said observing Ash Wednesday on Feb. 14 is a “very good opportunity for Catholic Christians to really reflect on the magnanimity of love.”

“The cross is the ultimate symbol of divine love. God, who so loved us, sent His only Son so that we might be saved. It is a love that is sacrificial as well as life-giving, a kind of love that everyone should aspire to do,” he said.

In navigating this calendar collision this 2024, he reminds the faithful to keep the start of the Lent season a priority.

As an American cartoon strip cleverly puts it, “Valentines are red, Wednesday’s ashes are gray. You can’t spell Valentine without “lent” on this day.”

Source: Philippines News Agency