CUU LONG DELTA — Farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, the country's rice granary, have planted 400,000ha of autumn-winter rice.
In all, they will plant 600,000ha, equal to last year's autumn-winter crop, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Plant Protection Department.
In An Giang Province, the country's largest rice producer, 150,000ha will be planted. By last week farmers had sowed 38,752ha, mostly in Thoai Son, Chau Phu, Cho Moi, Tri Ton, and Chau Thanh districts and Chau Doc town, which have robust dykes to protect the rice crop during the annual flooding caused by a rising Mekong River.
The flood season is almost upon the delta, with authorities warning the inundation could be severe this year.
Doan Ngoc Pha, deputy director of the An Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said sowing of the remaining area was expected to be finished by the end of this month.
"An Giang has been repairing its dykes," he said.
Farmers in Dong Thap, one of the upstream provinces, have sown 72,000ha out of a planned 87,000ha.
Duong Nghia Quoc, director of its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said most of the planted fields have been protected by sound dykes.
"Dong Thap has warned farmers to only grow the autumn-winter crop in areas with robust dykes," he said.
"Though the water level in the Tien, a tributary of the Mekong, is now a meter lower than at the same time last year, the extent of rainfall and the number of storms cannot be predicted," he said.
However, the Southern Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting has said there would be more storms and low pressures than usual over the East Sea this year, warning farmers they face a risk of damage to their crops.
The flooding this year could match last year's record level, it said.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development warned the delta provinces not to expand the area under the autumn-winter rice crop to prevent flood damage.
But many farmers have ignored the warning and planted in areas where the crop could be destroyed by floods.
The bigger profit yielded by the autumn-winter crop compared to the summer-autumn crop was the reason that farmers have ignored the warning, local authorities said. — VNS