Thailand diverts Mekong, Vietnam worries about rice production
VietNamNet Bridge - Instead of ‘sitting and waiting for the worst to come’, experts say Vietnam should think of growing other crops instead of relying on rice.

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Bangkok Post on January 29 quoted the spokesman of the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) as saying that Thailand has diverted water from the Mekong River to pump to drought-stricken areas in Thai territory.

It did this without prior consultation with member countries of the Mekong River Council (MRC).

Dr.Vo Tong Xuan, a leading Vietnamese rice expert, said Vietnam will be the biggest sufferer if Mekong’s water is taken away. 

This is not the first time Thailand has pumped water from Mekong to its rice growing areas.

Thailand focuses on growing high-quality rice for export at high prices. The rice varieties don’t bring high yield, at 2.8-3.5 million per hectare, but they don’t need heavy watering. They just need rain water. 

To improve farmers’ living standards, the government of Thailand has asked the country’s agriculture ministry to guide farmers to shift to other crops. Nowadays, many Thai farmers grow mango and litchis for export.

Xuan warned that if Vietnam still relies on the water sources from Mekong mainstream, it will certainly lack water for irrigation. 

In 1972, the water flow capacity was measured at 2,200 cubic meters per second. Meanwhile, the flow capacity measured at Thanh Long Canal in Tien Giang is now less than 1,500 cubic meters per second.

If Vietnamese farmers lack water for irrigation, they will meet big difficulties, because Vietnam focuses on making high-yield rice which needs heavy watering. 

Vietnam can harvest 5-6 million tons of common rice from every crop, or 12 million tons a year, which cannot be exported for high price, but can be sold in large quantity. 

Vietnam now cannot compete with Thailand in high-quality fragrant rice. Vietnam can harvest 5-6 million tons of common rice from every crop, or 12 million tons a year, which cannot be exported for high price, but can be sold in large quantity.  Meanwhile, Thailand only has 3.5 million tons.

Vietnam’s rice is mostly sold to the Philippines, Indonesia and Africa, which need cheap rice. The average selling price is VND25,000 per kilo.

If Thailand shifts to grow low-cost rice, it will also be able to sell rice at low prices to the Philippines, Indonesia and Africa. This will be a great challenge for Vietnam’s rice.

Also according to Xuan, as situated in the lower course, Vietnamese farmers can take full advantage of the alluvium brought to them by Mekong. However, the geographical position also brings disadvantages. If Thai farmers also grow high-yield rice, the high volume of pesticide used in the rice production will harm aquatic creatures in Cuu Long River Delta.

Therefore, Xuan has suggested shifting to reserve part of land for growing mango, saying that mango grown in the delta is very delicious which has much higher quality than Thai mango.


Dat Viet


Vietnam economy, Vietnamnet bridge, English news about Vietnam, Vietnam news, news about Vietnam, English news, Vietnamnet news, latest news on Vietnam, Vietnam, FDI, MPI, Bui Quang Vinh, Mekong River Delta, Thailand, RID
 
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