HCM CITY – Authorities in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta have warned farmers to sow the Summer-Autumn rice crop on schedule to ensure water for irrigation and avoid diseases.
In areas where there is a water shortage, rice farmers have been encouraged to switch to grow drought-resistant crops.
With assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s plant cultivation department, the southern region is scheduled to sow the rice between April and June.
The delta, the country’s rice granary, plans to grow a total of 1.6 million hectares of rice. Of the figure, farmers have sowed nearly 857,000ha so far, according to the Southern Plant Protection Centre.
A sluice gate to keep out saltwater in the Mekong Delta province of Hậu Giang – VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Thái
The delta suffers from saltwater intrusion in coastal areas and a shortage of water in many other areas since it is the fag end of the dry season.
The delta’s provinces and Cần Thơ City have taken measures to combat the drought and saltwater intrusion.
In Trà Vinh Province, the Irrigation Work Exploitation and Management One Member Limited Company has been closing sluice gates to prevent saltwater intrusion when the salinity rate is high and opening them to let freshwater into channels in rice fields since the beginning of the crop.
Đỗ Trưng, director of the company, said drought and saltwater intrusion have damaged the crop in recent years.
This year the province upgraded irrigation works in rice farming areas by March to ensure irrigation canals have a water level of 60 – 180 cm to provide sufficient water for rice cultivation.
Trần Văn Hồng, who grows rice in Tân An Commune in Trà Vinh’s Càng Long District, said unlike previous years water is abundant this year in irrigation canals in rice farming areas.
Farmers did not lack water early last month when they began sowing the crop according to schedule, he said.
In Trà Vinh, farmers were instructed to sow between April 15 and 30 in areas with freshwater, between May 5 and 25 in saltwater intrusion-prone areas and between June 5 and 10 in other areas.
They have so far sowed more than 30,000ha of the province’s 77,000ha.
The crop is developing well because there is enough irrigation water, according to the province’s Plant Protection and Cultivation Sub-department.
In Bạc Liêu Province, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is working with people’s committees in districts and towns and Bạc Liêu city to dredge irrigation canals and ditches in rice fields.
It has asked localities to regularly inspect sluice gates and dams to ensure enough water is available for agriculture.
If Bạc Liêu faces a water shortage, it will ask the neighbouring province of Sóc Trăng to open some sluice gates and release freshwater, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Bạc Liêu has encouraged farmers to pump freshwater into ditches and ponds to store for irrigation and invest in pumps. – VNS