Drought, saltwater intrusion threatens farming, local life in Mekong Delta hinh anh 1A rice field affected by drought and saltwater intrusion in Vi Thuy district, the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA)
– Saline intrusion has occurred earlier than normal in the Mekong Delta and is expected to affect a greater area this year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

In a report submitted to the Prime Minister on February 13, the minister said saltwater intrusion is at a peak now since the beginning of the dry season. Saltwater has gone up 100-110km up the Vam Co river, 20-22km further than the salinity intrusion in normal years and 4-6 km further than level at the same time in 2016, the year with record salinity intrusion.

In the western coastal region, the salinity intrusion in Cai Lon river has reached 61km inland, 12km further than average, and 5km more than the level at the same time in 2016.

Saltwater intrusion will seriously affect local agricultural production and daily life of residents. It is forecast that the situation will not improve until the end of April.

The MARD noted that it had worked with local administrations to accelerate the pace of construction projects to cope with salinity intrusion. Five projects were put into operation in December 2019 and January 2020, protecting 83,000 ha of land from  saltwater intrusion and helping with curb the impact of saltwater for 300,000 hectares. 

Several other projects are still underway, which will ensure better control of saltwater intrusion, such as the irrigation systems in north Ben Tre, Cai Lon-Cai Be rivers and Long Xuyen Quardruple.

About 94,000 ha of rice fields in nine coastal provinces are likely to be affected by drought and saltwater if water supply runs short in the first half of March. Localities are working to store water and put measures in place to cope with the threat.

The ministry has recommended that farmers delay the sowing of Summer-Autumn rice until saltwater intrusion subsides.

Besides, 79,700 households are facing water shortage for daily life. Localities are drilling more wells and drafting plans to supply water for residents.

The ministry said it will call on international organisations and private companies to help provide water tanks and water treatment devices for people affected by water shortage.

The MARD asked the Prime Minister to consider including funding for measures countering drought and saltwater intrusion in the resolution of the Government’s regular February meeting.

The PM has continued to require ministries and agencies to assist localities in addressing the problem of saline intrusion to minimise losses in agricultural production and ensure water for local people’s daily life./.