A dried field in Long Phu district, Soc Trang. (Photo: tintuc.vn)

Soc Trang (VNA) – More than 11,000 hectares of winter-spring rice crops in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang have been seriously damaged by intruding saltwater, prompting the authorities to declare a natural disaster emergency on February 23.

According to the provincial Department of Agricultural and Rural Development, saltwater has thus far crept into six out of 11 local towns and districts. It caused some 900 hectares of completely ruined rice fields, which led to a loss of almost 40 billion VND (1.8 million USD).

Tran De and My Xuyen districts have taken the brunt of the intrusion, with between 400 and 450 hectares of crops totally spoiled in each locality.

Local farmers, whose fields are facing a water shortage, have been warned not to plant spring-summer crops, while the irrigation system is now tightly controlled.

Due to the early saltwater intrusion and lower than expected annual flooding, which usually brings much-needed water to rice fields, farmers in the Mekong Delta are facing major losses.

More than 300,000 hectares of winter-spring rice, or about 35 percent of the delta's winter-spring rice crop, are prone to the intrusion that has crept 60-70 km inland, according to the Plant Cultivation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.-VNA