Dams on Mekong pose threat to Vietnam’s agriculture
VietNamNet Bridge - It will be difficult to find solutions to develop agriculture in the Mekong River Delta if a series of hydropower dams are built on the river’s upper course, especially when Vietnam does not have a strong agriculture.

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International press has repeatedly warned about the problems expected after a series of hydropower dams are built on the Mekong River, pointing out that they will seriously threaten Vietnam’s food security.

Mekong Delta farmers are facing the risk of losing land for cultivation. Meanwhile, their lives will be upset because of the changes in the river current.

Le Anh Tuan, deputy head of the Research Institute for Climate Change under the Can Tho University and advisor to the Vietnam River Network (VRN), noted that international scientists have every reason to give such warnings.

“Imagine what will happen if hydropower dams, the number of which is increasingly high on Mekong, will store water to run their turbines in dry season. This will lead to more severe salinization in Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta which will severely affect Vietnam’s agricultural production,” he said.

Nguyen Nhan Quang, former deputy secretary general of the Vietnam Mekong Committee, said if the dam builders do not foresee the possible impacts on the lower course, ‘the situation will be very worrying’.

Once the cultivation land is narrowed and the yield is lower, the rice output will be decreasing. If so, Mekong River Delta will not have rice to provide to its people and people in other areas. Mekong River Delta now provides 20 percent of the total rice output in the world.

Meanwhile, the climate change is believed to make problems even more serious. In fact, Vietnam has suffered from the climate change: the southern land witnessed the salinity intrusion, while the forestland in Ca Mau province has been lost.

Also according to Tuan, 80 percent of the water volume in Mekong River Delta is sourced from overseas, which means that the water supply in the area depends on the operation of the hydropower dams. If hydropower plants’ operators block the stream, Vietnam will suffer from water shortage, and if they discharge water, Vietnam will suffer from floods.

The unexpected flood in Lao Cai province in the north some days ago could be seen as a typical example which shows how the water discharge affects Vietnam.

As China only warned about the water discharge six hours in advance, Vietnam could not respond well to the emergency. 

The same thing may occur in the Mekong Delta, scientists warned. If the countries on Mekong’s upper course refuse to share information about their plans to store and discharge water, Vietnam cannot take action to plan their agricultural production and life.

Dat Viet


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