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Farming struggling with climate change

Update: December, 05/2015 - 09:57
Thousands of hectares of fruit trees planted along the coastal areas are expected to suffer from the impacts of climate change by 2030. — Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — Thousands of hectares of fruit trees planted along the coastal areas are expected to suffer from the impacts of climate change by 2030, according to Tran Xuan Dinh, deputy head of the farming sector of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Central southern provinces of Viet Nam have experienced harsh draught due to the impact of El Nino this year. More than 30,000ha of rice in the region lack water, and the productivity of industrial crops has sharply declined, according to Dinh.

Phan Thanh An, of Vinh Thanh village in the southern Kien Giang Province, lost his entire 6ha of rice, a total investment of VND30 million (US$1,300), due to low rain, prolonged dry weather, a lack of fresh water and the intrusion of saline water into rice fields and canals this year.

"I pumped saline water out of the rice field, fertilised it and waited for rain, yet dry weather endured and caused the loss of my entire rice field," said An.

Nguyen Van Dung, of Vinh Thuan District in Kien Giang Province, also lost almost all of his 7ha rice field. The total investment was VND52 million ($2,300).

The weather was favourable last year and productivity reached 900kg per 1,000sq. m. He made a profit of about VND2 million per 1,000sq. m last year, according to Dung.

But he earned nothing this year, Dung said.

In addition to the crop loss, an embankment slide also threatened locals' lives. Residents of Cho village in the southern Long An Province have suffered from an unstable embankment for years.

Locals added stone onto the embankment to prevent slides; however, due to the increasingly high tide over the years, the village was inundated with water, which caused environment pollution and threatened locals' health.

Vo Van So, a resident of Cho village, had to move his house three times to avoid slides.

Some households could afford to move to other places, but poor families were forced to stay and suffer the slides, said So.

Must adapt

Provinces in the southwest region set targets to use plants that can tolerate a high level of salinity, to adjust the crop season and to adapt farming systems in response to climate change, according to the region's Steering Committee.

Southern Soc Trang Province's Seed Centre examined 90 types of plants to select ones that were suitable for fields that integrate prawn and rice cultivation, as well as other salinity areas of the province.

Thanks to the examination of seed types in Soc Trang and other provinces, farmers could evaluate various types of seeds and determine the ones that could adapt in prawn-breeding areas.

A recent study by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that types of rice with a long life cycle were often unable to adapt to climate change, so they were not suitable to be used.

A five-year inspection of the ministry showed that productivity dropped sharply when rice with a long life cycle was used in warm weather, while a type of rice with a short life cycle could yield up to seven tonnes per ha.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development suggested that using rice with a short life cycle is a preeminent choice when it is warm and water is insufficient.

While medium and long life cycle rice takes 170 to 190 days to be harvested, short cycle rice takes only 125 to 135 days. The latter type of rice is hardly affected by the weather, according to the ministry. — VNS

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