Mekong Delta saltwater intrusion in rivers damages crops

February 01, 2020 - 08:00
Saltwater intrusion into rivers from the sea has caused damage to rice and other crops in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta.


Saltwater intrusion in rivers has damaged the rice crop in Cà Mau Province’s Thới Bình District. – VNA/VNS Photo Thế Anh

HCM CITY – Saltwater intrusion into rivers from the sea has caused damage to rice and other crops in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta.

In Cà Mau Province, 16,800ha of rice have been affected, according to the local Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The situation is expected to worsen, affecting more than 24,900ha of winter-spring rice and 340ha of other crops in the upcoming months.

Nguyễn Tiến Hải, chairman of the province People’s Committee, has ordered related agencies to take measures to cope with the saltwater intrusion.

The department and local authorities should review the situation and advise farmers on how to prevent possible damages, he said.

In An Giang Province, which is less affected by saltwater intrusion than the delta’s other provinces, more than 9,200ha of rice and other crops could be affected, according to its steering committee for climate change and natural disaster response, search and rescue.

Trần Anh Thư, deputy head of the steering committee, said the province had informed farmers about when they could pump freshwater from canals to store for irrigation.

“The province has also taken measures to transport water for daily household use if there is a shortage.”

Saltwater has intruded deep into the delta, which comprises 12 provinces and Cần Thơ City, causing a water shortage for a large number of households.

In Bến Tre Province, the intrusion has reached the second natural disaster warning level, according to the province’s Centre for Hydro-Meteorology Forecasting.

The salinity rate in the province’s main rivers is 2 – 6.2 parts per thousand (PPT), enough to damage crops. Though it is still quite early in the dry season, this matches the record saltwater intrusion levels that occurred in the 2015 – 16 season.

The centre has warned that between February 2 and 4, saltwater could cause a salinity rate of 4 PPT 48 – 68 kilometres deep inside Châu Thành and Chợ Lách districts.

Some 56,800 households in Bến Tre are estimated to face a shortage of freshwater for daily use.

The number is more than 20,000 in Cà Mau.

In Hậu Giang, Tiền Giang, Vĩnh Long, Trà Vinh, and Bến Tre provinces, authorities have closed sluices to keep out saltwater and instructed farmers to use efficient irrigation methods to save freshwater and switch to drought-resistant crops. – VNS