Mekong Delta farmers concern about rice yield due to salinization

In the middle of May 2024, rice fields in Hau Giang province along the construction sites of the Noth-South Expressway suffer from salinization due to highway building work.

Many sea shells were discovered at the construction area of the North-South Expressway passing through Vi Thuy District in Hau Giang Province (Photo: SGGP)

Accordingly, many households in Hamlet 9 of Vi Thang Commune (Vi Thuy District of Hau Giang Province) having rice fields along the construction sites in the Hau Giang – Ca Mau sub-project of the North-South Expressway reported that the sand pumping activities have caused stunted growth and death due to salinization on their paddy fields.

Confirming the state of salinization on these fields, functional agencies said that the source of this problem has not been determined yet!

During the 2023-2024 winter-spring rice crop, rice plants started dying around 45-50 days after transplanting, coinciding with the sand pumping activities for the highway construction. Affected areas were concentrated along the highway route.

Farmer Do Van Quyen in Vi Thang Commune shared that after one month from the transplanting time, his rice plants strongly grew; yet half a month later when the sand pumping activity near his field commenced, those plants turned red and died gradually on a large area of 2,200m2.

At first, he had thought of plant sickness and bought chemicals to try to address it. When nothing improved, he and his fellows reported this state to the local authorities. A careful study of the field revealed an unacceptable level of salinity, which had killed all rice plants.

Agricultural experts in Hau Giang Province examined the land of affected paddy fields and informed that the salinity level there was 2.5 per mille, compared with the level of 0.1 per mille in unaffected areas. Since Vi Thang Commune is within a non-saline and non-disaster-prone zone, this further indicates an external source of salinization, resulting in rice plant death in 2.48ha of fields of nine households.

The situation persisted in the 2024 summer-autumn crop, with rice dying due to high salinity levels. Thus, the People’s Committee of Vi Thuy District has assembled a team, including representatives from My Thuan Project Management Board - the project investor, and Truong Son Co. - the construction contractor, to survey the affected areas.

The team confirmed on May 10 the extensive damage and high salinity levels on 3,700m2 of rice fields of two households, leading to severe damage levels of 20-70 percent on certain parts of the fields. However, they were unable to pinpoint the salinity source.

In related news, My Thuan Project Management Board reported to the Transport Ministry that the Can Tho – Hau Giang sub-project under the North-South Expressway project finished nearly 56 percent of the annual progress and 33.5 percent of the contract value. This is 9 percent late compared to the adjusted schedule. Similarly, the Hau Giang – Ca Mau sub-project is suffering from a 10-percent tardiness as it only reaches 30 percent of the contract value.

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