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50,000ha of farmland not arable after severe drought

Update: July, 07/2015 - 10:33
A resevoir is exhauted in the southern Ninh Thuan Province. Severe drought has rendered about 50,000 hectares of farmland across the country barren. — Photo
HA NOI  (VNS) — Severe drought has rendered about 50,000 hectares of farmland across the country barren, the Agriculture Ministry reported.

Most of the affected land lie in south central coastal provinces, it said at a conference last week.

Nguyen Van Tinh, deputy general director of the ministry's Directorate of Water Resources, said Ninh Thuan and Khanh Hoa provinces, both on the south central coast, were experiencing their worst drought in 40 years.

Reservoirs in Ninh Thuan have almost completely dried up with water below 10 per cent of their designed capacity. In Khanh Hoa, only 17 per cent of water was left in reservoirs.

About 34 per cent of Ninh Thuan's arable area, or 10,229 hectares, will not be used for this summer-autumn crop while Khanh Hoa will suspend cultivation on nearly one quarter of its farmland, or 10,400 hectares, Tinh said.

At its most acute, some 122,000ha of farmland in the Central Highlands, southeast, and south central coastal regions were affected by the drought. The Central Highlands provinces of Dak Lak and Dak Nong accounted respectively for 61,000ha and 17,000ha, Tinh noted.

Anticipating a serious drought, the ministry's Department of Crop Production had asked provincial authorities to help local farmers switch to drought-tolerant crops instead of rice. More than 4,950ha of rice fields were used for this purpose during the 2014-2015 winter spring crop and the 2015 summer-autumn crop, compared to the targeted 8,527 hectares.

However, the prolonged water shortage affected even the drought-resistant food plants, and they did not grow well.

Deputy Director of the Department of Crop Production, Tran Xuan Dinh, said many localities have taken various measures to cope with the drought, including digging ponds, trying to source underground water, dredging canals, requesting hydropower plants to release water from their reservoirs, and asking residents to save water.

He said Ninh Thuan has sought seed support from the ministry for growing crops after the drought. The central provinces of Binh Thuan, Nghe An and Quang Tri have also requested more financial aid to deal with the aftermath of the drought. — VNS

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