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Mekong farmers relieved as floods finally arrive

Update: November, 13/2010 - 09:50

HA NOI – Much-delayed floods have arrived in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta where many farmers rely on the seasonal inundation for their livelihood.

Paddy fields near the one of the Mekong's two major tributaries, the Hau, or Rear River, that were beginning to dry are now submerged.

The occupants of small boats ply the flooded plain to cast nets or harvest water lilies.

"My children caught a considerable number of fish yesterday," said farmer Duong Van Ut from Can Tho City's Vinh Thanh District.

"I was worried about my paddy fields that were polluted with pests and rubbish," he said.

"The floods will restore my fields."

The Co Do District's Tran Huu Thanh who had raised more than 6,000 fish in an underwater trap that was short of water said he was now able to release his charges into submerged fields where they can swim freely.

Once there, they would grow quickly and gain up to 200 grammes.

"I can feed them with my catch and save money that I would have had to spend on fodder," he said.

Fish farmers

Many farmers in the Co Do and Vinh Thanh Districts use the yearly floods to breed and then farm fish in their fields.

The floods typically arrive from June to October each year and the farmers along the two major tributaries have been anticipating them for months.

The waters deliver a army of fish from Cambodia's Tonle Sap Lake and alluvial deposits that help nourish paddy fields.

This year's delay created difficulties for the southern delta's fishermen, farmers, fishing net merchants and boat-builders.

"Without the floods, we have neither crops nor fish," explained Vinh Thanh District fish farmer Nguyen Thi Khinh.

"But a delayed flood is better than no flood – we still have something to catch," she said.

An Giang hydro and meteorological forecast centre director Vo Thanh warned that water in the Tien, or Front River, where the Mekong enters Viet Nam in the province's Tan Chau District, had peaked at just 3.2 metres.

The level was below the record low of 1989, he said.

Can Tho's University scientist Dr Duong Van Ni attributed the belated floods to storms in northern Cambodia. — VNS

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