About 50,000 hectares of farmland across Vietnam, mostly in the south central coast region, are no longer cultivable due to a severe drought, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Deputy General Director of the MARD’s Directorate of Water Resources Nguyen Van Tinh said Ninh Thuan and Khanh Hoa provinces, both located in the south central coast, are experiencing the worst drought over the last 40 years.

Reservoirs in Ninh Thuan have almost completely dried up with the remained amount of water below 10 percent of their designed capacity. In Khanh Hoa, only 17 percent of water left in reservoirs.

About 34 percent of farmland, or 10,229 hectares, in Ninh Thuan will not be cultivated this summer-autumn crop while Khanh Hoa will have to suspend cultivation on nearly one quarter of its farmland, or 10,400 hectares, he added.

At the worst moments of drought, some 122,000 hectares of farmland in the Central Highlands, southeast region, and south central coast were affected by the drought. Around 61,000 hectares of that area were in Dak Lak and 17,000 hectares were in Dak Nong – another Central Highlands province, Tinh noted.

As the drought seriousness was predicted, the MARD’s Department of Crop Production has asked provincial authorities to help local farmers switch to drought-tolerant crops instead of rice. More than 4,950 hectares of rice land were planted with other food crops during the 2014-2015 winter spring crop and the 2015 summer-autumn crop, compared to the targeted 8,527 hectares.

However, many drought-resistant food plants cannot grow well due to water shortage for a long period of time.

Deputy Director of the Department of Crop Production Tran Xuan Dinh said localities have employed various measures to cope with the drought such as digging ponds, seeking underground water, dredging canals, requesting hydropower plants to release water from their reservoirs, and asking residents to save water.

According to the department, Ninh Thuan has asked the MARD for seed supports for post-drought cultivation while the other central provinces of Binh Thuan, Nghe An and Quang Tri also requested the Government’s financial aids for settling drought aftermath and take prevention measures.-VNA