|Workers check water pumps for aquaculture production in Hai Lang District, Quang Tri Province. Prolonged drought over the past six months has hit aquaculture production in central provinces.—VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Ha
BINH DINH (VNS) — As many as 27 hectares of white-legged shrimp have succumbed to disease, while half of the total farm area in the central province of Binh Dinh are low on fish due to prolonged drought over the past six months.
The statement was made by the Head of the Aquaculture sub-department under the provincial department of agriculture and rural development, Vo Dinh Tam.
The prolonged period of scorching temperatures has wreaked havoc on the province's aquacultural sector.
At a farm in Dinh Binh reservoir, around 50 tonnes of red tilapia fish had been lost to the heat.
At a fresh water fish farm run by the My Chau aquaculture experimental centre, around 15 tonnes of fish raised over a ten year period were at risk due to a lack of fresh water from reservoirs in Dong Deo, Hoc Hom and Hoc Lach. The school of fish is reportedly worth VND1.9 billion (US$90,000).
The dearth of fresh water has also wilted white-legged shrimp production in the province, reducing farming area from 2,243ha to 1,891ha.
Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Ho Ngoc Hung said the delayed shrimp production would lead to long lasting damage and put aquatic farms at risk of suffering from salinity.
"We have dredged channels, lakes, ponds and reservoirs to limit the loss of production. The department is trying to supply water for aquaculture farms as a top priority," Hung said.
"The province is also subsidising fuel costs incurred by local farmers pumping at their farms.
Water from Dinh Binh reservoir, which boasts a capacity of 226 million cubic metres, has been scheduled to help supply water to aquatic farms first," he said.
The My Chau aquaculture experimental centre also planned to move its fish farm to Thiet Dinh dam as an emergency measure.
More than 21,000 islanders in Ly Son district, 30km off the coast of Quang Ngai Province, have also been struggling against the worst drought in its history, with water levels at Thoi Loi reservoir sinking to their lowest on record.
The extreme drought has endangered crops and salinised wells, threatening the lives and livelihoods of local residents.
As many as 73 per cent of the population derive their living from growing garlic and spring onion, and fishing, but farmers have been forced to switch their traditional crops to water melon.
"Garlic and spring onion farms need daily watering, while melon gardens can go two or three days without water. It's the best solution to avoid a complete loss of farm production," said vice chairwoman of the district's people's committee, Pham Thi Huong.
"An Hai commune still has enough water for farming with a reservoir of 270,000 cubic metres, but An Vinh commune is facing the worst drought," she said.
Head of the district's rural infrastructure office, Nguyen Van Le, said there was only enough water to supply 20ha of the total 456ha farm.
The vice chairwoman said 50 per cent of the crops were estimated to be lost. "We always have our preparations for the annual dry season, but the worst drought has hit the island and pushed the onion crops to a terrible harvest this year," Huong said.
"Half of total 200 wells for farming have been salinized, which has raised alarm bells for the onion crops. Even a 20,000 cubic metre reservoir has declined to its minimum level," she added.
She said local people would be able to salvage water for daily use, but that the remaining wells would not be able to be used to water crops.
"We have asked for a fund of VND300 million from the province's budget to improve irrigation and dredge water wells," the vice chairwoman said.
A further 310ha of maize, groundnuts and water melon crops have also suffered from a lack of water. Many farmers have been unable to sow seeds because of a shortage of water. — VNS