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Mekong Delta faces difficulties due to drought, saline intrusion, Covid-19

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The Mekong Delta has never experienced the difficulties like the current period with tens of thousands of hectares of damaged fruit gardens and downward export due to prolonged drought, saline intrusion and Covid-19 pandemic. 

Hectares of durian are dry due to drought and saline intrusion

Hectares of durian are dry due to drought and saline intrusion

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the first two months of the year, vegetables exportation just reached around US$ 513 million, down 11.9 percent compared with the same period last year as Covid-19 pandemic has out-broken globally triggering the impact of goods delivery and consumption.

Particularly, the price of citrus maxima in Ben Tre Province was around VND 40,000 (US$ 1.7) per kilogram in the beginning of the year, but the price is now downward to VND 25,000 (US$ 1.06) to VND 30,000 (US$ 1.3) a kilogram which is still difficult to sell. 

According to many experts, China maintains the largest importer of Vietnamese fruits and vegetable. 

Recently, the epidemical situation in China has been well controlled and if the situation is going to be better, the fruits and vegetable import demand will be overcome along with many policies of encouraging the recovery of consumption of goods, especially fruits.

Following China, Japan and the Republic of Korea are expected to resume agricultural product import in the end of second quarter of the year. 

Along with the export difficulties, the saline intrusion is considered as huge impact to the fruits gardens. 

According to the Southern Horticultural Research Institute (SOFRI), the early-hit and prolonged saline intrusion impacted around 130,000 hectares of fruit gardens in the Mekong Delta, notably the provinces of Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, Vinh Long, etc.

The fruit gardens bringing high value with total average turnover of around VND 600 million (US$ 25,452) per hectare yearly is higher than paddy field of around VND 386 million (US$ 16,374) a hectare; however, many types of fruit trees are sensitive to saline water, so it would cost a lot of money to recover the gardens in case of damage.

According to Mr. Nguyen Thien Phap, Chief of Office of the Steering Committee of Natural Disasters Prevention and Control of Tien Giang Province, saline water covered a massive of fruit gardens with high salinity leading to the lack of irrigation water.

Amid the tough situation, the Provincial People’s Committee has granted tens of billion dong to hire barges transporting fresh water supplying for nearly 13,000 hectares of durian, providing fresh water for over 1,000 hectares of dragon fruit in districts of Cho Gao, Go Cong Tay and Go Cong Dong to limit the damage risk.

From the mid-March to the beginning of April of 2020, the functional forces of Tien Giang Province irrigated around 300,000 meters cubic of fresh water for fruit gardens of over 18,600 households. 

Currently, the fresh water supply is prolonging to the end of this month. 

Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Hoàng Hiệp suggested the Mekong Delta provinces’ Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development to check the natural disaster- hit fruit gardens to timely instruct prevention measures for farmers.

By Huynh Loi- Translated by Huyen Huong

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