HA NOI (VNS)— As a scorching heat wave dries up reservoirs, farmers can do nothing but wait, said Nguyen Thi Nam Linh, a farmer in Quang Nam Province's Dien Ban District.
Like many rice fields in this central province, Linh's faced a critical shortage of water.
Vo Dinh Nen, director of Quang Nam Province's Water Works Company, said 50 out of 74 reservoirs had dried up. The rest retained only enough water "for 50 per cent of rice fields."
According to the company, more than 5,000 hectares of rice fields belonging to over 5,000 households risked being abandoned due to the lack of water.
Thousands of hectares of rice fields in the provinces of Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue are also suffering from drought.
Bui Minh Tang, director of the National Centre for Hydro-Meteological Forecasting, said the northern and central areas would experience three such heat waves this month.
Rain is expected to ravage northern provinces, with rainfall being 30 per cent higher than the same period in other years. However, little rain is forecast in central provinces, causing a severe lack of water for both agricultural production and domestic use.
River flow in central provinces is 66 per cent lower than in previous years. Many reservoirs in central provinces have dried up, such as Hoi Son and Van Hoi in Binh Dinh Province, Suoi Trau and Suoi Hanh of Khanh Hoa province and Song Trau and Du Du of Binh Thuan Province, where the current water volume is equivalent to only 10 per cent of storage capacity.
Nguyen Trong Phu, deputy director of Binh Dinh Province's Water Works Company, said this year's lack of water for agricultural irrigation was more severe than other years. Most springs, lakes and rivers did not contain a single drop of water.
About 15 reservoirs managed by the company are currently storing more than 234 million cubic metres, equivalent to half their storage capacity, he said.
If the water in all the reservoirs were mobilised for agricultural production, nearly 5,000 hectares of rice fields in Tay Son, Phu Cat, Phu My, Vinh Thanh and Hoai An districts would still lack water.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development proposed that the Prime Minister support Central and Mekong Delta provinces with VND295 billion (US$14 million) to dredge the canals, set up pumping stations and take preventive measures against drought.
Local agriculture and rural development departments asked farmers to switch from rice to corn or soybeans, which require less water.
Tang said that although the drought would continue until next month, Central Highlands provinces had fortunately escaped the worst of it.
Rainfall this month was 50 per cent higher than the previous months, he said, and a lack of water for agricultural production and domestic use in Central Highlands areas had partially been dealt with. —VNS