|In Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Dak Lak and Khanh Hoa provinces, drought has destroyed nearly 600ha of rice and 100 ha of vegetables, and 7,300ha of rice, corn and vegetables, according to provincial departments of Agriculture and Rural Development. — VNA/VNS Pholto Duiong Giang
HCM CITY (VNS) — The rice harvest in the south-central and Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) regions is expected to be under 35,000 tonnes compared to the previous winter-spring crop because of prolonged drought, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said.
The ministry's Plant Cultivation Department said that 1.63 million tonnes of rice would be harvested in the 2014-15 winter-spring crop.
More than 3,300ha of rice fields have been switched to other crops because of drought, the department said.
About 23-25 per cent of the winter-spring rice crop has been harvested, and the rest will be completed by the end of the month.
The region's rainfall late last year was 20-60 per cent lower than the average of many years, and this year it has been 20-50 per cent lower than average, according to the South-central Region Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.
Several provinces, including Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan, have had no rain this year.
"Ninh Thuan had to stop planting more than 6,000ha of rice in the winter-spring crop to ensure the supply of irrigation water," Phan Quang Thuu, deputy director of the Ninh Thuan Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said at a seminar held in Phu Yen last Friday.
For the upcoming summer-autumn crop, Ninh Thuan will give water priority for household use and husbandry, he said.
Pham Huu Hao, deputy director of the Dak Nong Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said more than 3,000ha of coffee in the province faced a water shortage.
The department has told localities to temporarily stop planting rice and use water to irrigate coffee fields. Dak Nong has also encouraged residents to dig ponds to store water.
In Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Dak Lak and Khanh Hoa provinces, drought has destroyed nearly 600ha of rice and 100 ha of vegetables, and 7,300ha of rice, corn and vegetables, according to provincial departments of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The South-central and Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) regions plans to switch to drought-resistant crops like corn or sweet potatoes on more than 8,800ha of rice fields for the upcoming summer-autumn crop.
Phu Yen Province, for instance, plans to use 500ha of rice fields to grow corn, beans and other cash crops.
Nguyen Trong Tung, director of the Phu Yen Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, has asked for help from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to shift from rice to other cash crops.
The Phu Yen department said it would also review the results of cultivating cash crops and ask the province's People's Committee to develop support policies for farmers.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said the ministry would consider the petitions.
Hoang Thanh Tiem, deputy director of the National Agriculture Extension Centre, said that policies on water management were needed for areas in the Central Highlands where perennial industrial trees were grown.
Authorities have told provinces in the south-central and Tay Nguyen regions to switch to drought-resistant crops in areas with water shortage.
Local departments of Agriculture and Rural Development will also co-operate with the ministry's Irrigation Department and Electricity of Viet Nam to create a plan to regulate water from the reservoirs of hydro-power plants to supply irrigation water to downstream areas. — VNS