Mekong Delta farmers wait for floodwaters

Farmers in the Mekong Delta’s upstream areas are waiting for the flood season, which brings sediment to rice fields and other areas of aquatic resources. 

Mekong Delta farmers wait for floodwaters

The Binh Thanh crab-catching tool making village in Dong Thap Province’s Hong Ngu District. 

The delta’s flood season normally occurs between August and November, but this year floodwaters caused by the rising level of the Mekong River in the rainy season have not appeared in many rice fields in upstream areas.

In Dong Thap Province’s Hong Ngu District, the first locality which usually floods, farmers are opening more than 9,000ha of rice fields to wait for floodwaters.

The district has decided to not grow the autumn-winter rice crop, the year’s third rice crop, on more than 9,000ha of rice fields and will release floodwater into the fields to fertilise the soil and destroy pathogens and pests.

Nguyen Van Hoc in the district’s Thuong Thoi Hau A Commune said that after harvesting the summer-autumn rice, he did not grow the autumn-winter and is preparing to receive floodwaters for his field.

He ploughed his rice field so that it will absorb sediments when the field receives floodwater. However, the level of floodwater is low now and has not entered his field. 

If low floodwaters cannot enter the field, the next winter-spring rice will be affected because wild grasses, pathogens and pests still exist in the field, Hoc said.

In addition, the production cost of the winter-spring rice will be high because the field has not been fertilised by flood sediments.

The delta’s flood season is expected to come late this year because of low rainfall, and will be weaker than normal.

The flood season is estimated to reach its peak at the end of this month and be 0.2 – 0.4 metre lower than the average level of many years, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorology Forecasting.

Floodwaters are now appearing in some upstream areas in Dong Thap and An Giang provinces. Farmers who catch fish and other aquatic species are also waiting for the rising of floodwaters since big floods offer more fish and other natural resources. 

Nguyen Van Doan, who has earned a living from catching mud crabs in Dong Thap’s Hong Ngu District for 15 years, said the number of mud crabs had declined significantly in recent years, especially in years when there are small floods.

He now catches only 13 – 14 kilogramme of crabs every two days.

 

Fishing tool production

Villages that make tools for catching fish and other aquatic species in the delta have entered their production period for the flooding season, but their operations are not busy as in previous years.

The villages include the Rom Thom fishing net-making village in Can Tho City’s Thot Not District, Lai Vung fishing net-making village in Dong Thap’s Lai Vung District and Binh Thanh crab-catching tool making village in Dong Thap’s Hong Ngu District.

Binh Thanh produces crab-catching tools year round, but its busiest production time is during the flooding season.

Nguyen Van Ghi, whose establishment makes crab-catching tools in Binh Thanh for more than 20 years, said he normally made 4,000 of these tools each year in previous years.

However, he only makes about 2,000 crab catching tools this year because of small floods.

This year, floodwaters had occurred late and were low, so catching fish and other aquatic species in the flood season in upstream areas had just started, he said.

“The sales of fish-catching tools are lower than in previous years,” he said.

Crab-catching tools made from bamboo are selling at a price of VND27,000 (US$1.2) each, and producers can earn a profit of VND8,000 – 10,000 for each, according to producers.

Binh Thanh’s crab-catching tools are sold in the province and neighbouring province of Long An and are also exported to Cambodia.

The village has nearly 100 households making crab-catching tools. VNS

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