CUU LONG DELTA (VNS)— Local authorities and farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta have been strengthening dyke systems for protecting orchards as water levels rise in the Mekong River.
Besides protecting paddy fields during the annual flooding season, which normally occurs between August and November, the delta also focuses on orchards as the region is also the country's largest fruit producer.
In Ben Tre Province, one of the downstream provinces, Cho Lach District is upgrading and building new dykes to protect 9,500ha of fruits, flowers and ornamental trees.
Bui Thanh Liem, head of the Cho Lach Agriculture and Rural Development Office, said the district was raising the height of existing dykes and building new dykes in flood-prone areas as well as those at the risk of soil erosion.
The district was determined not to let floodwater inundate its orchards, he said.
"Of the 9,500ha, more than 1,000ha of rambutan and durian trees that are bearing out-of-season fruits are being strictly protected from the floodwater threat," he added.
Of the total of VND9 billion (US$428,000) being spent on strengthening and building dykes, VND3 billion has been drawn from the State budget and VND6 billion from local people's contributions.
Nguyen Thien Phap of the Tien Giang Steering Committee for Search and Rescue, Flood and Storm Prevention and Control, said one of their most important tasks was to protect more than 40,000ha of fruit gardens in the province from floodwaters. Over the last several days, local authorities and farmers in the province's Cai Lay, Cai Be and Chau Thanh districts have renovated dykes and shored up dozens of erosion-prone areas to protect fruit orchards, he said.
Local authorities have also warned farmers to closely monitor the water levels in local rivers and streams so that prompt measures can be taken to save the orchards, he added.
Tien Giang Province is the delta's largest fruit producer.
In Hau Giang Province, Chau Thanh District has upgraded dykes and built new ones to protect 4,448ha of various kinds of fruits this year, according to the local Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau.
In the upstream province of Dong Thap, normally one of hardest-hit provinces during the flooding season, nearly 25,000ha of fruits in Cao Lanh, Chau Thanh, Lai Vung and Lap Vo districts were being "strictly protected," local officials said.
Lai Vung now has more than 1,000ha of pink mandarin, a local speciality, that cannot withstand flooding, according to the district's Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau.
Therefore, it has invested more than VND5 billion to build dykes in Tan Thanh, Long Hau and Tan Phuoc communes.
Of nearly 4,000ha on which other kinds of fruits are grown in Lai Vung, 20 per cent are scattered, so the district cannot build dykes to protect them," local officials said.
They have advised local farmers to take steps on their own to protect their orchards, they added. — VNS