Ninh Thuan farmers lack water, leave 1,500ha of fields fallow hinh anh 1Many rice fields in Ninh Thuan province’s Thuan Nam district have not been planted with summer- autumn crops because of a water shortage. (Photo: VNA)

Ninh Thuan (VNS/VNA) - Farmers in Ninh Thuan are not growing any summer – autumn crop on more than 1,500ha of land due to lack of water, according to the south-central province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The province, which gets the lowest amount of rainfall in the country, plans to crop 30,000ha, including 13,500ha of rice.

To ensure irrigation, the department has instructed farmers to only grow rice in areas where they can actively manage water.

These areas are in Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hai and Ninh Son districts, Phan Rang – Thap Cham city and upstream in some other districts.

The province’s 21 reservoirs now have 107 million cubic metres of water in storage against their capacity of 194.5 million cu.m, according to the province’s Irrigation Works Exploitation One-Member Company.

Of the reservoirs, 10 have less than 1 million cu.m each.

The Don Duong Reservoir in neighbouring Lam Dong province, which provides water for irrigation and household use in many districts in Ninh Thuan, has only 43 million cu.m compared to its capacity of 165 million cu.m.

If rains do not bring water to this reservoir, Ninh Thuan faces the risk of water shortage until the end of the crop, the company said.

Pham Dung, head of the province’s Plant Cultivation and Protection Sub-department, said the People’s Committee has instructed localities not to grow crops in areas where they cannot actively manage water.

Water in the reservoirs is carefully managed, with priority given to household and animals, and therefore farmers in many areas have stopped cropping, he said.

The sub-department has instructed farmers to restructure their crops to suit their farming conditions.

The province plans to grow other crops on 940ha of paddies this summer-autumn and has cropped 560ha so far, according to the sub-department.

To cope with drought, the province has in recent years switched to high-value fruits that can grow in dry areas.

Under a plan to restructure agriculture by 2030, the province seeks to increase fruit production, perennial industrial trees and vegetables and reduce food crops like rice.

The province is focusing on developing grape and jujube cultivation in Ninh Hai, Ninh Phuoc and Ninh Son districts and Phan Rang – Thap Cham city. 

It hopes to have 2,000ha under grapes and an annual output of 50,000 tonnes next year and 1,200ha under jujube and output of 55,000 tonnes.

It is also developing durian, avocado, rambutan and mangosteen cultivation in Ninh Son district, xiem coconut, grown for juice, in Ninh Hai and Thuan Nam districts, soursop and green-peel and pink-flesh grapefruit in Thuan Bac and Bac Ai districts.

Pi Nang, who converted his 5,000sq.m corn field into a green-peel and pink-flesh grapefruit orchard in Bac Ai’s Phuoc Binh commune five years ago, said in the past he had to stop growing corn in the dry season because of lack of water. 

His orchard is fruiting now, and he usually earns 70 million VND (3,000 USD) per crop, he said. 

Grapefruit is easy to grow, affected by few diseases and suitable for growing in his commune, he said.

Besides, the entire harvest is snapped up by traders because of high demand, he added.

Pham Hung Bao Chau, deputy chairman of the Phuoc Binh People’s Committee, said his commune has zoned areas for fruits like green-peel and pink-flesh grapefruits, durian, avocado, banana, and jackfruit to restructure agriculture.

The fruits have high value and the weather and soil conditions in the commune suit them, he said.

They have stable and high yields because farmers use advanced farming techniques, he added.

The province encourages farmers to use water-efficient irrigation equipment and grow crops to Vietnamese good agricultural practice standards.

The province has more than 5,950ha under fruits, according to the department. – VNS/VNA