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Mekong Delta faces crippling drought, more saline intrusion

Update: March, 13/2015 - 08:46
A field in Soc Trang Province's Long Phu District suffers from severe drought. A shortage of fresh water and saline intrusion has affected agricultural crops in the Mekong Delta region. – VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khuong

HCM CITY (VNS) — A shortage of fresh water and severe saline intrusion has seriously affected agricultural cultivation in the Mekong Delta since mid-February.

Farmer Phan Van Thi, of Go Cong town in Tien Giang province told Tin Tuc (News) newspaper that he must get up early every day to pump water for his one-hectare rice field. He said fresh water in canals had been low.

More than 2,000 hectares of rice in the districts of Cho Gao, Go Cong Tay, Go Cong Dong and Go Cong town could be affected due to drought and saline intrusion, according to the Tien Giang Agriculture and Rural Development Department's Irrigation Agency.

Another 6,000 hectares of rice will lack fresh water by the end of the main crop when all drains must be closed to stop the salty water.

The same situation has occurred in Hau Giang province. According to the provincial Agriculture and Rural Development Department, severe heat has caused saline intrusion in fields.

As many as 25,000 hectares of winter-spring crop are threatened in districts Phung Hiep, Chau Thanh A, Long My and Vi Thuy and Vi Thanh city.

In Tra Vinh, salty water has intruded 50 km inside the mainland. Salinity level this year is higher by 5.6 – 7.7 per cent compared with last year and has affected thousands of hectares of rice.

Meanwhile, in Bac Lieu, salinity has reached an alarming level, and in many river systems, salinity is double that of the same period last year. Around 20,000 hectares of winter-spring crop in Phuoc Long and Hong Dan districts are affected.

Drought and saline intrusion have been occurring earlier in the Mekong Delta for several years due to climate changes.

According to the Southern Hydrometeorology Station, saline intrusion has entered 40 – 60 km in the Mekong Delta with salinity from 1 – 3 per cent/thousand, and will go up to 5 -6 per cent/thousand. It is expected to continue until May.

To cope with the situation, Tien Giang Province has invested VND25 billion (US$1.2 million) to dredge irrigation systems and pump more fresh water to stop saline intrusion in fields.

The province will dredge 138 canal systems, build 166 dykes and set up 200 pumping stations in areas with drought.

Bac Lieu Province has also invested VND83 billion ($4 million) to build 300 irrigation works and canals to cope with drought and saline intrusion.

In Hau Giang Province, dykes and pumping stations have been checked and repaired to preserve water in fields and limit salty water.

All provinces have guided farmers to keep fresh water from the Phung Hiep canal system in depressions, ponds and lakes.

Authorities have also warned owners of gardens, vegetable cultivation and fish breeders in rivers to keep a close watch on river salinity to protect their crops. — VNS

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