Mekong Delta: No common voice found yet in adapting to climate change

VietNamNet Bridge – Setting up a perfect plan to get adapted to the climate change, and helping the agriculture production in Mekong Delta develop in a sustainable way, has been highlighted as an urgent task. However, a common voice between scientists and managers has yet been found.

Vietnam, climate change, Mekong Delta, farmers, food

Big challenges

Vietnam is an agriculture economy with 70 percent of its territory in urban area and 75 percent of population earning their living on rice fields. The agriculture production makes up tens of billions of dollars to the export turnover. However, the production has been threatened by the climate change.

Kosei Hashiguchi from JICA (the Japan International Cooperation Agency) said at a workshop on the response to the climate change in late January 2013 that the seven coastal provinces in Mekong Delta would be most seriously affected by the saltwater intrusion and sea water rise.

The seven provinces include Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Vinh Long, Soc Trang, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau and Kien Giang.

According to the expert, the temperature in Mekong Delta has increased by 0.5-0.9oC over the last 30 years. Meanwhile, in the future, the temperature would increase by 0.2-0.3oC more every decade.

As for the sea water rise, the water level has increased by five centimeters over the last 10 years, while it is expected to rise by 8 centimeters in every 10 years.

The temperature increase would lead to the decrease in the rice productivity. The rice yield would decrease by 10 percent by 2030, by 15 percent by 2050 and 25 percent by 2100.

Meanwhile, Do Minh Nhut, Deputy Director of the Kien Giang provincial agriculture department, said the saltwater intrusion and sea water rise would influence 1/3 of the total rice field area in the province, estimated at 100,000 hectares.

JICA has predicted that most provinces in Mekong Delta would be influenced by the climate change, and that Ca Mau alone would suffer the damage worth VND16 trillion a year due to the climate change by 2100.

No common voice reached

Nguyen Van Hoa, Deputy Head of the Southern Fruit Institute, pointed out that JICA’s research work only focused on finding the impacts on the rice fields, while there has been no figure about the possible impacts on fruits – which would also be hurt by the climate change.

Meanwhile, a representative from the Aquaculture Institute No. 2 noted that the saltwater intrusion, to some extend, would help develop brackish aquaculture. Especially, this would help develop shrimp farming.

“Scientists need to show the possible influences of the saltwater intrusion to the region. Why don’t we think of taking full advantage of this to develop aquaculture?” he questioned.

A representative from the Mekong Delta Rice Institute suggested that it’s necessary to have thorough survey on the possible influences of the plan on the people’s life and production in the region.

He said that within the O Mon – Xa No sub-project, the one on the closed system of dykes, sluices in the O Mon- Xa No area belonging to three provinces and cities of Hau Giang, Kien Giang and Can Tho, hundreds of sluices were built. However, they could not help push up the production.

Though no final conclusion has been made, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development--Hoang Van Thang, highly appreciated the research conducted by the Japanese experts.


Vietnam, climate change, Mekong Delta, farmers, food