Mekong Delta struggles against salinity and lost harvest

Rising salinity level has caused severe damage to fruit orchards in the Mekong Delta on a large scale, and localities are racing to find new cultivation models to adapt.
Farmers have to grow new crops from scratch
Farmers have to grow new crops from scratch

More than 25,000ha of fruit crops in the Mekong Delta were affected during the dry season of 2020, of which more than 11,181ha could not be salvaged, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

This was due to prolonged drought, saline intrusion, and the lack of fresh irrigation water in some areas.

Among localities, Ben Tre Province suffered the most with 5.448ha worth of crops damaged from 30-100%.

A farmer from Cai Lay District, Tien Giang Province said 4/5 of the durian trees in his hamlet was ruined. “Purchasing new seeds, fertilizer and hiring workers would take hundreds of dollars, so most families now owe money to suppliers and have unpaid bank loans”, he lamented.

The Mekong Delta agriculture department under MARD reported a vast number of indebted households due to the incident.

Because the region mostly prospers thanks to fruit production, which makes up about 58% of the total yield of Southern Vietnam, the matter is being taken seriously by the government.

The agricultural sector is cooperating with local authorities to donate VND2-4 million (about US$86-172) per hectare to affected farmers.

In Ben Tre Province, local farmers are being instructed on guarding their crops against salinity, said Tran Huu Nghi, head of a local agricultural department in the province.

The locality is also looking to build freshwater reservoirs and saline-resilient dyke protection system, he said, with durian being the main focus thanks to their high economic value.

According to MARD, there have been many training courses and workshops at local orchards conducted by the National Agricultural Extension Center.

Deputy Minister of MARD alerted local authorities about the upcoming dry season of 2020-2021, and advised them to instruct people carefully on salinity control and complete local irrigation and salt water warning systems.