THE southern tip of Mekong Delta in Vietnam in the country’s prime fertile rice-growing region has been hit by the worst drought the country has seen in recent years.
Accompanied by a saline intrusion, the drought is reported to have affected over a million people who face water shortages in the region.
This has spurred China to dispense twice the amount of water from a hydropower station to aid the situation.
Officials blamed the drought on the El Nino weather phenomenon and excessive construction of hydropower dams on the upper stream of the river, the Associated Press reported.
Yesterday, director of the department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Ma Quang Trung was quoted as saying the level of inland saline intrusion was unprecedented, resulting in damage to some 180,000 hectares (444,780 acres) of paddy fields.
The Department of Crop Production had estimated that the dry spell would cost VND34 trillion (US$1.5 billion) to deal with the heavy damage caused by drought and saltwater intrusion.
Earlier this week, Chung told local media that 10 percent of the 1.5 million hectares of rice was sowed in the winter-spring crop in the delta.
He said an estimated one million tons of rice could be damaged by the saltwater intrusion, which is forecast to peak in mid-April.
Meanwhile, the New Straits Times reported Friday that farmers in Malaysia’s ‘rice bowl’ have delayed planting due to the dry conditions.
“I am waiting for the water to be released but it’s not been done yet. The problem is even if the water is released, it will flow into the main irrigation canal, which is far from my fields,” one farmer told the NST.
“The water shortage problem has affected most padi farmers in Kedah and Perlis,” he added.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press