Water shortages are affecting more than 57,000ha of rice farmland in Kien Giang province (Photo: thanhnien.com.vn)

Kien Giang (VNA) - Water shortages are affecting more than 57,000ha of rice farmland in the Mekong delta province of Kien Giang, with entire crops at risk of being wiped out completely due to the prolonged drought.

Thousands of ha have been destroyed and nearly 15 thousand ha are facing saline intrusion, according to Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.

According to cultivation plans, four districts of U Minh Thuong region including An Bien, An Minh, U Minh Thuong and Vinh Thuan will sow 63,000ha of rice, but local farmers have planted about 57,000ha due to the drought.

An Minh district is the most affected area with more than 14,000ha. Nearly 3,000 out of 9,000ha of rice in An Bien district were damaged completely with the remainder also in danger.

Saline intrusion has also damaged more than 2,800ha of rice in Vinh Thuan district.

The department reported that the area affected by drought and salinity in the U Minh Thuong region is increasing every week.

According to agricultural experts, more and more rice would be affected by saline water in Kien Giang province due to the impacts of El Nino.

Meanwhile, coastal sewer systems have not been completed as planned due to a shortage of capital.

Farmers in the coastal communes of An Minh district said they had to stop growing rice and plant grasses which can tolerate salt water in order to improve the soil for the next crop.

Ngo Van Hy, head of the Agriculture and Rural Development department of An Bien district, said that lower rainfall than average and prolonged drought have seriously affected the rice fields.

The damaged area will increase if there is no rain soon, he said.

Reports from the provincial agricultural department showed more than 30,000ha of summer-autumn and autumn-winter crops in 2015 were damaged. The agricultural sector has asked province authorities to support farmers with nearly 45 billion VND (2 million USD) to repair the damage.

Tran Quang Cui, deputy director of the provincial agricultural department, said the province needs to change production areas and should move to aquaculture or grow other plants instead of rice.-VNA