Delta crops face threat from salt

VietNamNet Bridge – With the annual flooding not occurring in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta this year, salination has become a major problem affecting agriculture as well as water supply.

Nguyen Van Quang, a farmer in An Giang's Tri Ton District, says: "No floods came this year. I'm afraid the soil was not desalinated."

Like most other Mekong provinces, An Giang also suffers from increasing salination caused by the encroachment of sea water into rivers and canals.

Bui Van Sang of Binh Thanh commune in Thoai Son District says local farmers are afraid that incursion of seawater could destroy their crops.

According to provincial authorities, salination, though not severe, has been reported in the Thoai Ha and Vinh Te canals.

With water level in the Mekong River being unusually low, enabling seawater to encroach into water bodies, and the dry season being around the corner, authorities in the region have taken efforts to combat both the salination and a possible drought.

In Kien Giang Province, the incursion of seawater has affected the coastal districts of Hon Dat and Kien Luong, causing a shortage of water for irrigation and household use.

"Locals have to buy water [from other districts] for their needs," Tran Quang Cui, deputy director of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, says.

In Ben Tre, Tien Giang, and Vinh Long, the incursion of saltwater has been deeper and more frequent compared to last year. In some areas it extends 60km from the coast.

In Soc Trang it extends 80km inland.

In An Giang the low water levels in rivers and canals has enabled salination.

Saltwater has entered the Vo Van Kiet, Thoai Ha, and Vinh Te canals. Farmers in Thoai Son District, one of the most vulnerable areas, are worried for their crops.

"My rice crop will be ruined if the water is salinated," Bui Van Sang, a local farmer, says.

Tran Van Ten, another farmer, says since there has been no flooding in the delta this year the alum content in the soil is also very high. Incursion of saltwater will thus be a double-whammy for farmers.

Authorities in Kien Giang Province are mobilizing funds to build 33 culverts at 60 estuaries to prevent salination. The province has a coastal dyke system of 212km built with Government funding, but it has been able to afford only 27 culverts so far.

In other provinces farmers are trying to prevent salination by building temporary earthen dykes around farms.