Lê Thanh Tùng, deputy head of the Department of Plant Cultivation, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, speaks to Nông Nghiệp Việt Nam (Việt Nam Agriculture) newspaper on the need to develop a long-term plan to cope with drought in the south-central region
Do you have any comments following your recent working visit to some south-central provinces regarding summer-autumn rice production?
In these days, all coastal provinces in the south-central region are being hit by a serious drought. However, the level of seriousness varies from one province to another.
For example, rice production in Bình Thuận Province totally depends on water coming from local rivers and reservoirs. In a year, Bình Thuận farmers plant rice paddy in three crops. That’s why the summer-autumn rice crop this year will have to delay a bit. Right now, farmers in Bình Thuận have just started their summer-autumn crop and the water shortage problem only occurs at the beginning of the crop. That’s why it would present a bit problem for the farmers when they start to transplant the rice crop.
For other provinces, the farmers could delay the summer-autumn crop a little bit and wait for the rain to come.
According to our experience, if there is no rain in the coming days Bình Thuận should cut some 20,000ha of its rice production plan.
However, for Ninh Thuận Province, farmers should only conduct one crop in a year due to the serious drought which has occurred there.
According to the weather forecast, the south-central region will face a big problem of water shortages in the coming summer-autumn crop. Do you have any recommendations for farmers there?
Regarding non-structure projects, the Department of Crop Production has come up with four solutions.
First, farmers should only start their crops in areas which are close to irrigation projects to make sure they have enough water for their crops.
Second, farmers should plant only short duration rice varieties. Instead of using the rice variety of 110 days, farmers should use the rice variety of 90 days. This means farmers could reduce one round of irrigation for the rice.
Third, to use more organic fertiliser for the rice plants. As we all know, organic fertiliser not only gives nutrients to the rice plants but also keeps moisture in the soil.
Fourth, last but not least, it is important to apply a very important technique in irrigation for the rice plants – one period with more water followed by a period of less water. This way of watering will help keep the soil always damp.
However, these four ideas must go with having a good water irrigation system to help farmers be proactive in their irrigation mission for the rice plants to grow properly.
Will you please explain a little bit about the restructuring of crop structures?
The restructuring of the crop structure in the south-central coastal region is compulsory due to the hydrometeorological conditions there.
However, in the restructuring of any crops, we have to take into consideration to see whether the plants are suitable for the soil conditions and also the market for the products.
For example, Khánh Hòa Province is well known for its mangoes and their mangos already have geographic indication. — VNS