Drought delays rice farming as Mekong waters drop    
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Drought delays rice farming as Mekong waters drop
May 18 2016

Vietnamese officials have asked farmers to postpone sowing their rice crop till mid-May as the country struggles against the worst drought in recent memory. The worst affected area is the Mekong delta in Southern Vietnam that produces 90 percent of the country's rice. Rather than bringing much needed fresh water, Mekong river levels have dropped by as much as a half.

At the end of a journey of more than four thousand kilometres. The dark rich waters of the Mekong river delta. But the rivers once mighty waters are losing their battle against the sea as the drought forces them back upstream and saltwater are invading the land.

Duong Thanh Tung has been farming this land for twenty five years and he’s never known a drought like this. His rice fields are dried up and cracked,the land, usually lush and moist, can’t even grow grass for his livestock to graze on. And there is little chance of getting a rice harvest this year.

"We’re in a very difficult situation. Rice is our main crop and we grow other vegetables. Last year we got three rice harvests. This year, I don’t think we’ll get one. We can’t farm rice anymore, but we’re farmers, what can we do?" Duong Thanh Tung said.

Mr Duong has managed to rescue some of his fields by pumping water from a local creek. But the water is polluted by seawater that’s moving upstream.

In desperation, some of the farmers......and the farmer knows this is completely worthless.

Even the promise of water from the Mekong's source in China, is fading fast. Those waters reached Thailand 3 days ago, but the rivers level here has barely changed.

Projects like this one in Thailand, pumping water from the Mekong for drought relief, have depleted the volume of the river so much, that only a trickle is making it down to Vietnam.

The officials who monitor the river have seen levels drop by forty to sixty percent in this province.

It’s the worst drought in recorded history and the records go back more than one hundred years.

"As far as I understand, China released water 7 days ago, but so far there is no change. We hope that the freshwater will sweep the saltwater out, but so far no one in the delta is seeing any change," Ha Tan Viet, head of Water Resource Management, said.

It doesn’t look much like a drought. The rivers width and the tributaries that flow into it seem as strong as ever. But these waters have been poisoned and they can no longer quench the thirst of the parched earth. - CNTV