Drought and saltwater intrusion affect many areas in the Mekong Delta region. Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - The Mekong Delta suffered losses worth more than 4.7 trillion VND (215 million USD) due to the severe and prolonged drought and saltwater intrusion last dry season, the Southwest Region Steering Committee has reported.

More than 221,000ha of rice, 6,500ha of vegetables, and 26,500ha of fruits and industrial trees were affected, the committee said.

Paddy grown on 128,205ha was completely destroyed.

The drought and saltwater intrusion also caused a freshwater shortage for 225,000 households in coastal provinces like Ben Tre, Soc Trang, and Kien Giang.

Rains have now begun in the delta and farmers are growing new vegetable crops and the autumn-winter rice crop and farming shrimp.

Farmers are set to grow only 860,000ha of rice in the autumn-winter crop, down from the original plan of sowing 900,300ha, according to the Plant Cultivation Department.

This is due to the decline in rice prices and unfavourable export conditions, according to the department.

At the same time, it is now the peak harvest season for the summer-autumn rice, but with unusually heavy rains and winds battering paddies and affecting the quality of the grain, farmers have difficulty selling.

In Hau Giang, Kien Giang, Vinh Long and An Giang provinces, heavy rains and strong wings have flattened thousands of hectares of paddies.

Farmers whose fields were affected are likely to earn only around 10 million VND (455 USD) a hectare, down by nearly half compared to those whose fields were not affected, according to local agriculture departments.

Farmers have to harvest flattened fields by hand since harvesters cannot be used on them.

Traders are not keen to buy from such fields.

Nguyen Thi Kieu, deputy director of the Can Tho city Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said harvest of the summer-autumn rice is expected to be finished in early July.-VNA