With the onset of the floods delayed this year in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, hundreds of farmers are losing out on a regular annual source of income – catching shrimp and fish washed into paddy fields by the floods.
Farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces are facing a tough time caused by delayed floods.
The flood season usually begins in early August and lasts around four months.
Many families in Dong Thap Province, for instance, bought all the tools required to catch the shrimp and fish last month but were still waiting for the fields to flood.
Nguyen Tan Tai, a resident of Binh Hoa Ha Village, says his family has spent more than VND3 million (US$158) to buy small boats, fishing rods, a net, and other tools.
At this time last year locals were busy after their fields were submerged in nearly two metres of floodwaters, he says.
The late arrival has also meant tools for catching shrimp and fish are not much in demand, with their sales falling by more than half from normal years, Le Thi Nga, owner of a shop selling them at Ca Sach Market in Thuong Thoi Hau A Commune, says.
Dang Ngoc Loi, deputy director of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, says 300,000-400,000 took the opportunity to top up their earnings, making VND700-800 billion (US$37 million) in the four months.
Many of them are certain to lose out this year, he says.
The water level in the Tien River in An Giang Province's Tan Chau District is now almost 1.3m lower than is normal at this time while the level in the Hau River in Chau Doc town is a metre lower, Huynh The Nang, deputy chairman of the province People's Committee, says.
The flood season provides a livelihood for 600,000-700,000 people in the province who earn a cumulative VND1.5 trillion (US$79 million), he says.
Besides, if the floods play truant, cultivation costs might increase during the upcoming winter-spring rice crop due to a lack of water for irrigation, he warns.
Le Van Banh, head of the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute, says the floods deposit huge quantities of silt every year that fertilise 1.5 million hectares of paddies.