Farmers in southern Hau Giang province attempt to salvage their last summer-autumn rice crops after prolonged heavy rains caused floods and destroyed between 18 and 20 percent of their rice fields (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) - Heavy rains and strong winds have flattened paddy fields in the Mekong Delta, making it difficult for farmers to harvest rice.

In Hau Giang province’s Chau Thanh A district, farmers have entered the peak harvest season of the summer-autumn rice crop.

“Rains and strong winds have flattened all of my rice that was ready for harvest," said Cao Thanh Binh, who grows 1.4ha of rice in Chau Thanh A’s Truong Long A commune.

Owners of combine harvesters are now charging 300,000 VND per 1,000 sq.m to harvest rice in flattened paddy fields. The price is normally 260,000 VND per 1,000 sq.m.

Pham Thanh Hoai, Chairman of the Truong Long A commune People’s Committee, said the process of harvesting the commune’s 1,900 ha of rice had been slow because of prolonged rains.

The flattened fields had caused yields to fall by 20-30 percent, he said.

The price of paddy has fallen, causing a drop in profits for farmers, he said.

Before mid-May, traders made deposits to buy in advance fresh normal-quality paddy at fields at a price of 4,700 VND a kilo.

The price is now 4,300 VND a kilo, according to the Truong Long A commune People’s Committee.

In major rice cultivating areas in Can Tho city, Kien Giang and Dong Thap provinces, farmers also face a similar situation.

Farmer Le Ngoc Le in Can Tho’s Vinh Thanh district said farmers had been waiting at fields a week as combine harvesters were overloaded.

In the summer-autumn rice crop, paddy fields in fresh water areas in Can Tho city, Dong Thap, An Giang and Vinh Long provinces had high yields as they were not affected by drought and salt water intrusion.

Farmers were able to have a profit of 20 million VND (900 USD) per ha, according to the Delta’s provincial departments of agriculture and rural development.

But in areas affected by heavy rains and strong winds in recent days, farmers have had a profit of 12-15 million VND per ha because of reduced yield and price.

Le Van Doi, Deputy Director of the Hau Giang province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, was quoted as saying to Saigon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) newspaper that his department had warned farmers to follow the weather forecast and watch for crop diseases.

In areas in Hau Giang’s Long My district that have not planted the summer-autumn rice because of drought and salt water intrusion, farmers should sow the summer-autumn rice as rains have pushed salt water away, he said.

Long My has about 6,000ha of rice fields that have not planted the summer-autumn rice crop.

Rains, however, have created good conditions to sow autumn-summer rice in drought and saline-hit areas, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Plant Cultivation Department.

About 500,000ha of the delta’s paddy fields located 50 km from the coast have not planted the autumn-summer rice.

These paddy fields should be promptly sowed as there is an abundance of fresh water due to early rains, said the Plant Cultivation Department.-VNA