Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
Hau Giang (VNA) – The Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang is in urgent need of about 100 billion VND (4.47 million USD) to cope with severe saltwater intrusion and protect crops during the dry season.

However, this amount seems out of reach for a poor province such as Hau Giang, the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said.

According to the department, the locality needs the money to construct a network of culverts and embankments to stop saline intrusion into agricultural land, dredge more ditches and canals to supply freshwater for farming, and drill wells for everyday use.

The province will step up communication campaigns to raise public awareness of saltwater intrusion’s impacts while making forecasts on salinity and high-risk areas to help farmers have timely response measures.

Saltwater is forecast to intrude upstream 60–70 kilometres into the mainland this year, the department’s director Nguyen Van Dong said.

He warned that Hau Giang is only 45 kilometres away from the Rach Gia estuary (Kien Giang province) to the west and 65 kilometres away from the Tran De estuary (Soc Trang province) to the east, making it seriously vulnerable to saline intrusion.

Flood tides raised the salinity in many river sections in early February, damaging more than 1,000 hectares of winter-spring rice in the province, he added.

It is predicted that the upcoming flood tide on March 8 will make saltwater enter even deeper into local agricultural land. Around 60,000 hectares of rice and 15,000 hectares of fruit are likely to suffer during this dry season.

Across the Mekong Delta, more than 200,000 tonnes of rice has been damaged, causing losses of over 1 trillion VND (44.64 million USD).

The 2015-2016 winter-spring rice crop has already been hit by saltwater intrusion, and 104,000 hectares have been severely affected.

The National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting said saltwater intrusion has already hit alarming levels in Ca Mau, Kien Giang, Ben Tre and Tra Vinh provinces.-VNA