Mekong Delta region projected to face serious saltwater intrusion by 2030
  • | VGP | July 12, 2016 09:20 AM

Nearly a half of the Mekong Delta region would be badly hit by saltwater intrusion within the next 14 years.

Illustration photo

The news was announced on July 11 by the Ministry of Planning and Investment at a working session of the South West Steering Committee on its performance in the first half of 2016.

According to the report, the saltwater intrusion would get worse if hydroelectric dams in the upper reaches of the Mekong river continue to store up water, leading to water shortages in the downstream.

Agricultural production and people’s lives were seriously affected by El Nino phenomenon, the peak level over the last 100 years with prolonged hot and dry weather and severe saltwater intrusion.

Especially, paddy and aquatic cultivation areas were heavily damaged and output dropped dramatically.

Ten Mekong Delta provinces namely Hau Giang, Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Kien Giang, Long An, Soc Trang, Ca Mau, Vinh Long, Tra Vinh and Bac Lieu reported natural disasters. Saltwater penetrated deeply into the mainland nearly 80 kilometres and affected rate even reached 23‰.  

Generally, the region suffered an estimated agricultural loss of over VND 4.6 trillion, including 232,000 hectares of paddy, 6,561 hectares of farm produce; 10,800 hectares of fruits and industrial trees. Up to 226,000 households were affected by water shortage.  

Serious saltwater intrusion and disasters cost the growth of agricultural production in the region of minus 0.7% in the first six months.  

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Van Hieu stressed that the Mekong Delta will have to face impacts of climate change and saltwater intrusion in the near future if hydro-electric dams in the upper reach store up water, making the area prone to seawater intrusion.  

“Without effective responses, the agriculture would be exhausted within the next three years and up to 45% of the Mekong Delta region would be submerged by saltwater,” said Mr. Hieu said.

Opportunities for agricultural development

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam revealed that the ministry had already directed regional provinces to plan a new crop with a view to taking advantage of favorable weather. Output of the upcoming season crop would reach over 9 million tons.

Rice export was forecast positively in Q4 as contracts with China (accounting for 70% of the export market) would go up and is expected to offset poor performance in the first half.

In addition, the MARD also intended to boost production of catfish and litopenaeus vannamei as their export prices were on the rise.

Overseas shipment of vegetables and fruits to potential markets like Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the EU would be promoted.

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