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Mekong Delta residents battle drought to save crops
29 | 07 | 2007
Mekong Delta Provinces are taking measures to protect agricultural production from a severe drought that has been drying crops to death since March.

The water shortage and exceptionally dry heat have also sparked severe salinisation and forest fires in the delta, where an abnormally long dry season has not let up.

Residents, farmers and provincial agencies in several Mekong provinces are dredging canals, wells and rivers to collect water for daily use.

Provincial authorities have helped farmers prepare rice strains and shift to drought tolerant subsidiary food crops to reduce losses.

Authorities have also earmarked funding to fight drought and forest fires to save thousands of hectares of rice crops and hundreds of hectares of forests that are vulnerable to fires due to the dry weather.

The damage done

According to local agricultural agencies, irrigation canals in up-stream districts in Dong Thap Province are completely dry. The water level this dry season is 10-20 cm lower than the levels over the past few years.

Small-sized irrigation canals are almost exhausted and people living along the rice field embankments are facing severe water shortages.

Around 500km of Dong Thap’s canals have run dry due to heat and dry weather. The dry canals have put 12,000 hectares of forest at risk of forest fires.

Another 8,500 hectares of forests in Cao Lanh and Thap Muoi districts have no water and are facing high risks of fire.

Some fires broke out in An Giang Province early this month, damaging dozens of hectares of forests.

Salinisation caused by the prolonged drought has also hit Mekong Delta provinces and damaged crops. In Tien Giang Province, saline water has entered Cua Tieu River to reach My Tho Town, 50 km inland from the sea.

The province has outlined plans to transport fresh water by barges to heavily salinised areas.

Salt water has penetrated 45-50 kms inland in Ben Tre Province to Ben Tre Town, threatening thousands of hectares of orchards in Cho Lach District



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