Damaged rice paddies (Source:VNA)
Hau Giang (VNA) – Over 1,000ha of winter-spring rice in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang has been damaged by saltwater intrusion, according to the provincial agriculture sector.

The sector predicted that around of 60,000ha of rice, 15,000ha of fruit and 10,000ha of sugar cane and pineapples will suffer during this dry season.

For the first time, saltwater has even reached Chau Thanh district and Nga Bay township – normally safe places for growing fruit.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) Cao Duc Phat said on February 17 that the phenomenom in the Mekong Delta is comparable to a once-in-a-century disaster.

The saltwater intrusion and drought are likely to prolong till this May, said head of the provincial Irrigation Department Le Phuoc Dai.

Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Tran Cong Chanh requested that between now and the end of the dry season, relevant units must gauge and publicise the level of water salinity to farmers via the mass media, while stepping up inspections of dykes and dams in response to the problem.

Between now and February 22, local authorities will continue encouraging the storage of fresh water.

Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and local authorities visited affected areas and gave directions.

Across the Mekong Delta, more than 200,000 tonnes of rice have been damaged, resulting in a loss of over 1 trillion VND (44.64 million USD).

In the winter-spring crop 2015-2016, with 339,200ha of rice in coastal Mekong Delta provinces prone to saltwater intrusion and drought, accounting for 21.9 percent of the region’s total rice area, 104,000ha have already been severely impacted.

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