Farmers in the central province of Binh Dinh are struggling to find water to irrigate their rice paddies due to severe drought.

Nguyen Duc Dieu, a farmer from Cat Hanh Commune in Phu Cat District, said he had spent a whole day under the sun manually watering his plants, hoping to save his 10-day-old seedlings.

“It has taken me three days to soak the soil like this. Very little water runs down here and I have to watch it closely,” said Dieu, pointing at his paddy.

Other farmers use pumps in an attempt to utilise underground water, but many of the pumps are ineffective.

“The reservoirs are empty, and rivers and canals have dried up. There is not even any underground water left,” said Pham Van Trong from the Phu Cat District People’s Committee.

Trong explained that low rainfall last year had resulted in the water shortage.

Water has all but evaporated from the Suoi Tre Reservoir in Phu Cat District and locals can now walk from one side to the other without getting wet, while the Hoi Son Reservoir is down to about a tenth of its capacity.

Suoi Tre and Hoi Son are the biggest reservoirs in the province and the main supply of water for irrigation in Phu Cat, Phu My and adjacent districts.

They were originally lakes but local authorities turned them into reservoirs by building sluice gates to control the water flow.

Trong said the province has asked farmers to plant peanuts or sweetcorn instead of rice, because they need less water.

However, farmers said that peanuts will not grow because their roots will be unable to reach any water.
“Despite the risk, I’ve planted peanuts in a field that I used to cultivate rice last year,” said farmer Nguyen Thi My Ly in Cat Hanh Commune.

Farmer Dieu said he wants to cultivate rice because he is worried about the effects that alternative crops will have on the soil.

Other farmers said that there is no point in planting peanuts in lowland areas because they will die as soon as there is any rain.

According to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, there are 53,500ha of soil available for cultivating different crops in the province for the summer-autumn crop.

Around 12,000ha of land had been hit by the drought, while a further 4,000ha had been left empty. Crops in the remaining area were struggling to stay alive.

The provincial People’s Committee has asked the Government for 100 billion VND to tackle the drought, and the PM is expected to approve the funds in the near future.

In the meantime, rice paddies remain thirsty for water.

Local weather forecasters said that temperatures will fall and rain is expected, but this may be too late for the rice because it needs more water than other crops to survive.-VNA