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"Golden" rains refresh crops in Central Highlands

(17:22:44 PM 07/05/2015)
( - Rains on the early morning of May 6 saved thousands of hectares of crops suffering from prolonged drought in the Central Highlands provinces of Dak Lak and Gia Lai.

 ‘Golden’ rains refresh crops in Central Highlands


The precious rainfall also helped reduce the risk of forest fires and alleviate water supply shortages for local daily use.


According to Director of the Dak Lak provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Trang Quang Thanh, more than 50,000 hectares of crops in the province—including 40,000 hectares of coffee and 9,200 hectares of rice—had been damaged by May 4.


Drought has also led to five forest fires, killing two people and destroying tens of hectares of forests. More than 20,000 local households lack water for daily use.


Meanwhile in Gia Lai province, nearly 8,000 hectares of crops withered causing an estimated economic loss of nearly 100 billion VND (4.6 million USD).


According to the Central Highlands Hydro-Meteorological Station, this year’s rainy season is expected to start later than usual (near the end of May) and rainfall is to be below that of previous years across the region.


Drought exacts heavy toll on agriculture


The Cultivation Department has estimated that prolonged drought will cost the farming sector billions of Vietnam dong a day until the rainy season comes.


The rainy season usually starts in southern provinces in the middle of April but there are forecasts that this year rain would come later than last year, according to the department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.


An official of the department told the Daily that it was difficult to calculate the exact impact of drought on agriculture but the agency forecast a 20% drop in crop productivity and the percentage would jump to 50% if drought continued.


The agriculture ministry reported that it has not rained in Phan Rang City in Ninh Thuan Province, Phu Quy Island in Binh Thuan Province, Bac Lieu Province and Cao Lanh City in An Giang Province and other localities in the central and southern regions in the year to date.


Meanwhile, rainfalls in other localities are 8-32% of the average of previous years. For instance, Dong Ha City in the central province of Quang Tri reported rainfalls of 20mm, equal to 11% of the average of previous years, while My Tho City in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang has rainfalls of a mere 5mm, or 8% of the average of previous year.         


Some 58,300 hectares of farmland in the central and Central Highlands regions has dried up due to water shortages. The figure includes nearly 41,300 hectares in Daklak Province, 8,255 hectares in Gia Lai, 7,800 hectares in Binh Phuoc and nearly 1,100 hectares in Dak Nong.


These provinces are the most vulnerable to drought with nearly 32,500 hectares of coffee in the Central Highlands province of Daklak hit by sizzlingly hot weather.


Vietnam has around 622,000 hectares of coffee with the Central Highlands accounting for 90% of the total. Therefore, the Vietnam Coffee and Cocoa Association (Vicofa) predicted that water shortages could send coffee yields down by 20% in the next crop.


The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said if drought continued, the central provinces of Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan would lack water for the spring-autumn crop and that local farmers would be unable to plant trees on 44,000 hectares, or 38% of the total farming area.


Severe drought has wreaked havoc on pepper farms. According to pepper growers in the southeastern and Central Highlands regions, pepper productivity this year could be 10-55% lower than that of the year earlier due to drought.


Drought has worsened saltwater intrusion in coastal provinces in the south. Saltwater has made its way 40 kilometers into Tien and Hau rivers in the Mekong Delta and 80 kilometers into Vam Co River, well above 20 kilometers in 2012.



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