Drought and saline water intrusion have badly affected local agricultural production in southernmost Ca Mau province over the past two months and are forecast to persist through mid-May this year.

According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the drought has dried up 1,300 hectares of crops alongside 24,000 hectares of cajuput forests, leaving the forest at a high risk of fire.

Some 5,000 hectares of land for shrimp farming faced severe shortage of water, 1,000 hectares of which were damaged.

Meanwhile, nearly 10,000 hectares of farmland along the entire 252-kilometre coastline of the province are suffering from saltwater intrusion. Saline water penetrated 1-2 kilometres down into the land and up to 3 kilometres in several locations.

Ca Mau province has mobilised around 1,000 forest rangers and local residents to watch out fires around the clock and be fully prepared to manage any fire emergencies, said Director of the department Le Van Su.

The agricultural sector recommended local farmers temporarily stop out of season shrimp farming with the exception of industrial shrimp production. Growers were also suggested to plant fruit trees over crops during the current dry season.

The entire western coast dyke system will be upgraded at a cost of 1.3 trillion VND (60.2 million USD) by 2020 as part of the state programme to support the adaption of climate change and saltwater intrusion.

Dykes are scheduled to be constructed along eastern coast whilst dams will be built up to prevent saline water intruding from in-land rivers.-VNA