Water shortage threatens upcoming rice crop

September 21, 2019 - 08:33
Many reservoirs in the central coastal province of Ninh Thuận are running out of water, negatively impacting the coming rice crop.


Water in many reservoirs in the south-central province of Ninh Thuận Province have dropped to concerning low level. — VNA/VNS Photo Công Thử

NINH THUẬN — A prolonged dry spell has caused many reservoirs in the central coastal province of Ninh Thuận to almost run out of water, negatively impacting the coming rice crop.

According to the Ninh Thuận Irrigation Work Operation Ltd., as of Tuesday, the water in the company’s 21 reservoirs was only 97.35 million cu.m – only 50 per cent of their designed capacity, according to Vietnam News Agency.

The water level in Sông Sắt reservoir was 53 million cu.m while the other 20 were almost running out of water. Đơn Dương reservoir is barely getting by with 22 per cent of the designed operational volume.

The amount of available water was just enough for people’s daily life uses, animals’ needs, irrigation for perennial tree areas and some key production sectors by the end this year.

According to calculations, the water needed for people’s daily lives was 6.9 million cu.m, animal feed was 2 million cu.m, and irrigation for perennial trees and other key production was about 8 million cu.m.

In the situation, the provincial People’s Committee had suggested several plans of agricultural production to minimise losses for the upcoming rice crop.

Phan Quang Thựu, vice director of the provincial department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the hardest struggle now was to find water sources for irrigation needs.

“With the remaining amount of water, the province had to set up detailed plans of production for each locality so as to effectively cope with the water shortage,” Thựu said.

Due to the water shortage, farmers in many communes had to stop agricultural production over an area of 800ha, said Diệp Minh Xuân, vice chairman of People’s Committee of Thuận Nam District.

“If there is no rain by the end this month, the district would totally stop rice production which would cause difficulties for the farmers,” said Xuân.

"In the scenarios that we need to shift towards growing vegetables or perennial trees, the current water sources would still not meet irrigation needs,” he said.

In fact, local farmers were not optimistic about the upcoming rice crop due to severe weather and spread of disease, the official said.

Farmers in some communes of Thuận Nam District had decided to skip the crop altogether and wait until the winter-spring crop in 2019-2020.

Facing the same situation, Ninh Phước District is also mulling foregoing the rice crop because of its low economic value.

“Ninh Phước is one of the key rice production areas of the province. But due to the water shortage, at present, production has been halted on one third of the district's total rice cultivation areas,” said Ninh Phước People’s Committee vice chairman Nguyễn Hữu Đức.

“Moreover, the current crop did not bring high yields as expected so the farmers were suggested to skip the upcoming crop and let the land rest,” said Đức.

The province's leaders asked that the districts carefully weigh their decisions because halting production might result in disruptions to the food supply, especially in the last months of the year.

Under the plan suggested by the agriculture sector, Ninh Thuận would cultivate 21,600ha of rice and other crops if it rains by the end of this month and water in reservoirs reached over 50 per cent of the designed capacity.

The agriculture sector had to closely monitor the weather conditions and water levels in reservoirs to ensure people and production’s needs, said the provincial People’s Committee vice chairman Trần Quốc Nam. — VNS