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Heavy rains batter rice crops to add to central region woes

Update: May, 04/2013 - 10:09

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HA NOI (VNS)— After prolonged drought, a week of continuous heavy rain coupled with strong winds damaged a large area of winter-spring rice in central provinces.

"If the rain came nearly a month ago, we would be happy as at that time the rice needed water for growth," said Nguyen Thi Hanh, a farmer in Quang Nam Province, where about 10,000 ha of rice were flooded and 1,000 ha were destroyed.

Total losses amounted to about VND3 billion (US$143,000), said Ho Vang, deputy director of the Thua Thien-Hue Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The districts suffering the greatest losses were Phong Dien, Quang Dien, Do Luong and Huong Tra, where about 30-50 per cent of rice areas risked being completely lost. Since most of the rice was already ripe, recovery would be difficult.

"Harvesting will also be difficult and costly, as farmers cannot use machines to reap fallen rice. They must hire people to reap it by hand, which costs three times more than hiring a reaping machine," said Vang.

The department advised commune people's committees to pump water from sunken fields and set up props for the rice.

Technological experts were also sent to guide farmers to take care of the fallen rice and put down phosphate potassium fertiliser to help the rice develop well, said Vang.

For fields with at least 70 per cent ripe rice, the department asked farmers to harvest it soon.

Next week the department plans to meet to calculate losses and consider financial support for the farmers.

Le Muon, deputy director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said that experts from the department guided local farmers to drain water from the fields, wash the mud from the rice leaves and then spray them with nutritional substances.

However, improvement was difficult as the system of sluices in many districts, built more than 30 years ago, was significantly downgraded.

Moreover, in some districts, local farmers built ponds to raise shrimp and ducks that block the water from flowing out.

The Quang Nam Exploitation Irrigation Work Company set up a project to upgrade the system, but the province has still not found a funding source to provide the billions of dong required, said Muon. — VNS

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