Insufficient rainfall is likely to affect the winter-spring rice crops across the country, the National Hydro and Meteorological Forecasting Centre said yesterday
Water levels in rivers in the north-central provinces would be less than last year's average levels by about 30 per cent. Those in the country's south-central and Central Highland provinces would be about 60 per cent less than last year's averages, said centre head Bui Minh Tang.
"Drought and water shortages will spread extensively," said Tang. "Southern provinces will probably have to deal with salt water intrusions."
The Red River's water level stabilised at 2.85m last month, said irrigation expert Dang Duy Hien.
The river's average was usually about 2.91m.
If the drought continued, about 650,000ha of winter-spring rice crops in the northern delta might be ruined, he added.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had asked northern provinces to reorganise their crops according to climate forecasts and recommended farmers plant dry crops such as corn or cashews, among others, that need little irrigation, said Deputy Minister Bui Ba Bong.
"We should sow up to 60 per cent of land as soon as possible to avoid drought and salt intrusion early next year," Bong said.
Vu Van Thang, head of the Irrigation Department, said provinces should develop drought mitigation plans as soon as possible and dredge canals and culverts to ensure irrigation of every field.
"Additional pumps should be available when river levels drop too low," he said.
The Department of Cultivation head Pham Dong Quang said provinces had been asked to save irrigation water for next year. — VNS