GIA LAI (VNS)— Nearly 34,000 people in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai were facing food shortages as a result of prolonged drought, according to the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
The provincial People's Committee has earmarked VND6.3 billion (US$300,000) to buy more than 483 tonnes of rice to support local people.
The committee has decided to provide crop varieties worth VND3.7 billion ($176,000) to help local farmers resume production following damage caused by the drought to the 2012 crop.
The drought, which has lasted for months, has also affected more than 5,000 hectares of trees in the province.
The hot weather has dried up the provincial system of lakes, rivers, springs and reservoirs, posing a high risk of severe drought for the province if there is no rain.
The drought has also led to water shortages for irrigation in some areas. Local farmers in Ia Grai and Duc Co districts and Pleiku City are struggling to irrigate around 8,500ha of coffee and pepper.
Head of the Hydro-meteorological Forecast Station for the Central Highlands region Pham Vu Tuan said the drought was expected to last until mid April this year.
"Although there were unseasonable rains early this year, they had little effect," he said.
The next rains were forecast in May, he added.
Drought caused an estimated loss of almost VND55 billion ($2.6 million) for Gia Lai during the 2012 crop.
The Ministry of Finance has provided VND3.2 billion ($152,000) in aid to support local farmers resume production. — VNS