Kien Giang: various ways to combat drought, saltwater intrusion hinh anh 1Massive crop losses by saltwater intrusion. (Photo: VNA)

Kien Giang (VNA) – The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang is working to cope with drought and saltwater intrusion, with a focus on developing and upgrading irrigation works to ensure 2016 crops grow efficiently.

The province has spent over 100 billion VND (4.47 million USD) dredging canals, upgrading key irrigation facilities and hastening construction of other works in major rice cultivation zones.

It has enhanced management of and effectively operated existing anti-salinity dykes while building temporary dykes along canal routes to regulate fresh water for farming.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) directed local authorities to advance over 235 billion VND to over 34,000 farmer households to help them re-invest in production after recent losses caused by natural disasters.

Over 34,000 ha (or 9.4 percent) of the rice farms in the winter-spring crop of 2015-2016 in Kien Giang were damaged, mostly in An Bien, An Minh, Vinh Thuan and U Minh Thuong districts.

Rice farmers were instructed to switch to crash crops that require less water in areas with water insufficiency.

The provincial People’s Committee asked lower-level authorities to keep a close watch on water resources, flood tides, saltwater intrusion, salt concentration, drought and flooding, so they could keep locals up-to-date on related information and help them adapt to the disasters.

Drought and saltwater intrusion have worsened in the Mekong Delta this year, threatening rice crops and residents’ incomes.

MARD said this is the worst saltwater intrusion so far in the region, which is the rice hub of Vietnam .

Salinity in the Vam Co, Tien and Hau rivers and other rivers near the West Sea is higher than usual. Saltwater has intruded upstream 50-60km into the mainland, and even 93km in the Vam Co River’s neighbourhood – about 15-20km deeper than in previous years.
Drought and salinity are likely to last to the end of this year’s dry season, with the fiercest being in late February, said the Vietnam Irrigation Science Institute .

Its chapter in the southern region forecast that many areas in the Mekong Delta region will also experience similar situations, which will seriously affect agricultural production and aquaculture .

In the winter-spring 2015-2016 crop, more than 339,200ha of rice in coastal Mekong Delta provinces has been prone to saltwater intrusion and drought, accounting for 35.5 percent of those localities’ rice cultivation areas and 21.9 percent of the region’s total rice areas. Of these, 104,000ha were seriously affected.

The National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting said saltwater intrusion has already reached alarming rates in Ca Mau, Kien Giang, Ben Tre and Tra Vinh provinces.-VNA