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Delta saline intrusion curbs production, puts rice at risk

Update: March, 11/2013 - 10:17
A dyke in the southernmost province of Ca Mau is repaired to prevent saline water intrusion which has affected the local agricultural production. — VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khuong

CUU LONG DELTA (VNS) — Saline-water intrusion in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta's coastal provinces has severely affected the local agricultural production, with rice paddies facing a shortage of fresh water.

About 2,700 hectares of paddy in Tran De and Long Phu districts in Soc Trang Province are short of fresh water, according to the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The amount of dying rice has risen daily as saline water has entered two districts. This year, saline water intrusion occurred one month earlier than usual and entered deeper inland.

The content of saline water at river mouths in Long Phu is 1.4 per cent, and 2.1 per cent in Tran De, a rise of 0.3-0.6 per cent against the same period last year.

Soc Trang authorities only open sluice gates for irrigation when the salt content falls below 0.17 per cent.

Long Phu has had about 300ha of rice destroyed by saline water, and Tran De, more than 300ha.

Long Phu is now planting more than 15,100ha of the summer-autumn rice crop.

Le Cuong, deputy chairman of the Long Phu People's Committee, said prolonged heat and salty water would damage about 30 per cent of more than 6,000ha of rice plants that have already produced branches.

In Bac Lieu Province, the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has invested VND48.6 billion (US$2.3 million) to build 350 irrigation works in inner paddy fields to prevent saline-water intrusion in the winter-spring rice.

Drought

In Dong Thap Province, farmers have harvested about 70 per cent of winter-spring rice and have begun to plant the summer-autumn rice.

Drought has occurred in Dong Thap and the water levels of rivers are lower than in previous years, according to the province's Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Centre.

In the Dong Thap Muoi (Plain of Reeds) region, there will be no fresh water by the end of April or early May.

To ensure water for the province's planned 200,000ha of summer-autumn rice, the Dong Thap People's Committee has told the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and districts to dredge rivers and canals and install more public pumps.

Dong Thap has also spent VND28 billion ($1.3 million) from its budget to dredge seven irrigation canals.

In Ben Tre, one of the hardest-hit provinces, saline water has entered 57-68km deep inland on the rivers of Ham Luong, Cua Dai and Co Chien, affecting crops and people's lives.

Many residents in Ben Tre's Ba Tri District now have to buy fresh water for VND30,000-60,000 ($1.4-2.8) a cubic metre, while other have had to use saline water for daily activities.

In addition, more saline water has led to a shortage of fresh water for households in rural areas in Tien Giang Province's Go Cong Dong and Tan Phu Tay districts.

Nguyen Thien Phap, head of the Tien Giang's Sub-department of Irrigation, said the two districts' fresh water supply stations this month began to open 60 fresh water taps around the clock to supply free fresh water for local residents. The free supply will last until the end of May. — VNS


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