Bến Tre farmers struggle to replace damaged fruit orchards

September, 01/2020 - 09:00

Farmers in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Bến Tre are trying to recover fruit orchards damaged in the 2019 – 20 dry season, but they lack financial resources to buy seedlings to replace dead trees.


Damaged durian trees are cut down in Bến Tre Province’s Châu Thành District. — VNA/VNS Photo Công Trí

BẾN TRE — Farmers in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Bến Tre are trying to recover fruit orchards damaged in the 2019-20 dry season, but they lack financial resources to buy seedlings to replace dead trees.

The coastal province faced saltwater intrusion and drought from the end of last year to June, according to its People’s Committee.

Saltwater with a salt content of up to 0.5 per cent in the province occurred in the last dry season, damaging 30-70 per cent of 6,600ha of fruit orchards, more than 70 per cent of 2,603ha of orchards, and 100 per cent of 274ha of orchards.

Durian and rambutan were among the fruits most damaged since they are sensitive to saline water. Durian trees can only tolerate a salinity rate of 0.1 per cent.

Nguyễn Văn Cư has a 9,000sq.m orchard of durian and rambutan trees in Châu Thành District’s Phú Túc Commune. His trees died because of saltwater intrusion and drought, but does not have enough money to buy seedlings and fertiliser to replace the dead trees, or to rebuild the orchard’s saltwater prevention sluices.

“I will have to decide which saline-resistant fruit trees like coconut, grapefruit and orange I should plant later,” he said.  

In Châu Thành District, only about 50 per cent of damaged fruit orchards have been rehabilitated in Phú Đức, Phú Túc, Tân Phú and Tiên Long communes.

Trần Hoàng Liêm, chairman of the Tân Phú Commune People’s Committee, said about half of affected fruit orchards in the commune have been renovated.

Because of the damage, farmers do not have enough money to replace dead trees, he said.

“We have worked with agencies to instruct farmers in ways to rehabilitate the affected trees,” he said. The measures include washing out salt in the soil and rehabilitating the root and leaf systems of the trees.

Nguyễn Anh Quốc, deputy head of the Châu Thành District Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the district has more than 5,000ha of fruit damaged by saltwater intrusion and drought.

The district has submitted a list of affected orchards to the province’s authorities in order to receive financial support, he said.  

In Chợ Lách District, saltwater intrusion and drought damaged more than 8,000ha of fruits, including 5,000ha of durian and rambutan, according to the district’s People’s Committee. More than 30 million seedlings were also damaged in the district, which is the country’s largest seedling producer.

Preparation measures

Besides reviving damaged orchards, many farmers in the province have taken measures to store fresh water in the ongoing rainy season to cope with saltwater intrusion and drought in the next dry season.

In Chợ Lách District, farmers are building water containers and upgrading ditches in orchards to hold fresh water.

Trần Văn Tâm, who has a 7,000sq.m durian orchard in Chợ Lách’s Sơn Định Commune, said besides rehabilitating his affected orchard, he is consolidating embankments and sluices to store fresh water for the next dry season.

“In recent years, saltwater intrusion has occurred earlier than normal and lasted longer. Farmers have consolidated embankments and sluices in fruit orchards to prepare for the dry season,” he said.

Besides encouraging farmers to store fresh water for the next dry season, district authorities are consolidating sluices and dykes to help store fresh water.

The district has petitioned the province to build irrigation projects on branches of main rivers to hold fresh water for agricultural production.

Cao Văn Trọng, chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, said at the beginning of the rainy season, the province urged households to store fresh water so they will not face shortages during drought and saline intrusion.

The province is also speeding up construction projects to secure enough fresh water for household use and agricultural production in the coming time, he said. — VNS