Water-starved central region faces fallow lands this growing season
HCM CITY — Areas growing rice and other crops in the central region could leave lands uncultivated this season because of drought.
More than 3,000ha of rice paddies along the lower stream of the Vu Gia River in Da Nang are facing a water shortage for the summer-autumn crop, according to the city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Dong Nghe and Hoa Trung dams irrigate this area but their water levels have fallen to levels where they cannot supply water for irrigation.
Hundreds of ha could be left unplanted as a result, Huynh Van Thang, deputy director of the department, said.
If dams in the upper stream of the Vu Gia do not release large quantities of water and the drought and heat continue, areas in neighbouring Quang Nam Province would also suffer, he said.
To cope with the drought, the Da Nang Irrigation Exploitation and Management Company has begun maintenance of its groundwater pumping stations to ensure they can operate at full capacity.
This year's rainfall was lower than that of last year, meaning the drought would persist for a long time, Le Van Sam, deputy director of the company, said.
Quang Nam has the same summer-autumn rice planting schedule as Da Nang – May 15 to June 6 – but many of its fields have not been cultivated because of the lack of water.
Nguyen Dinh Nien, director of the Quang Nam Irrigation Project Exploitation Company, said not only are rivers flowing low but are also very saline.
The salt content at the Tu Cau and Cam Sa pumping stations in Dien Ban has reached 0.14 per cent and 0.16 per cent, so they cannot irrigate 400ha of rice fields that depend on them, he said.
The company has set up a temporary pumping station at the Phu Loc Lake in Duy Xuyen District.
It has also petitioned the province People's Committee to allow digging of a canal from the Thu Bon River to Dien Ban District's Vinh Dien town to supply water for the summer-autumn crop.
To circumvent the impacts of the drought, many central provinces have advised farmers to grow medium – and short-term rice varieties that are highly resistant to pests and drought.
The Quang Ngai Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has instructed farmers to plant rice varieties that have a gestation period of less than 120 days for the winter-spring crop, and less than 100 days for the summer-autumn crop.
Tran Van Manh, director of the Central and Central Highlands Regions Fertiliser, Plant Products and Strain Experimental Centre, said his centre experimented with 50 short-term rice varieties during the last winter-spring crop.
He recommended their planting now saying they are highly resistant to drought and diseases. — VNS