HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam has suspended giving out licences for new golf courses in an effort to maintain soil for rice cultivation and protect poor farmers, reports said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked local authorities to review all existing courses, according to a report on the government’s website, while the Vietnam News daily said no new licences would be issued.
“Golf course projects located on areas under rice cultivation must be unconditionally stopped,” Phan Huu Thang, head of the Foreign Investment Agency, was quoted as saying in the Vietnam News.
He added that no new licences would be issued pending the review of existing projects.
Earlier this year, Vietnamese media said new courses had been licensed at a rate of more than one per week since early 2006, when foreign investor interest surged in the “emerging tiger” economy, which saw growth of 8.5 percent last year.
But they explained in July that as food prices were soaring and inflation went into double digits — hitting 28.3 percent in August — Hanoi wanted to freeze new courses that do not meet land-use criteria and environmental protection requirements.
World grain prices have shot up this year, leading to panic-buying of rice in Vietnam and prompting the government to cap foreign sales to ensure food security.
Amid Vietnam’s economic boom, rice land shrank from 4.5 million to 4.1 million hectares between 2000 and 2006 due to the growth of industrial and residential areas, the Agriculture Ministry said in June.