Measures to protect specialised fruit tree cultivation areas from drought and salinity

Thursday, 2020-03-05 16:51:44
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The drought and saline intrusion have badly affected the fruit tree growing areas in the Mekong River Delta region. (Photo:
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NDO – The Mekong River Delta region is the main fruit growing area in the country, with 14 major kinds of fruits grown there including mangoes, dragon fruit, durian, bananas, oranges and longans, contributing to income creation for millions of local people.

However, the drought and saltwater intrusion situation has been difficult during the 2019-2020 dry season, causing many complexities for growers.

The Mekong River Delta region has around 370,000 hectares of fruit production, accounting for one third of the country’s total area, with an output of over three million tonnes per year. Due to the impacts of climate change, frequent and irregular drought and saltwater intrusion has damaged agricultural production in general and fruit trees in particular.

In this dry season, drought and salinity came earlier and were more severe compared to previous years, badly affecting over 23,000 hectares. Although the affected fruit tree growing areas are limited at this time, local authorities and people in the provinces have implemented many drastic measures to cope with the situation.

Tien Giang province has a large area of fruit trees in the Mekong Delta region, with over 79,000 hectares. Durian, mango, dragon fruit and jackfruit are key agricultural products accounting for much of the competitive advantage of the province. The locality has recently implemented many synchronous measures such as the announcement of the saltwater intrusion disaster in the early dry season, the closure of sluice gates to prevent salinity and the storage of fresh water to serve irrigation for orchards, checking the salinity level of rivers and informing and advise people on how to effectively control these issues..

The drought and saltwater intrusion situation is likely to persist. Two high tides will occur, leading to the risk of deep saline intrusion into the interior fields. The saltwater intrusion, along with drought can affect 89,000 hectares of fruits. Therefore, in order to ensure enough fresh water, the localities should encourage farmers to save water as well as consolidate the dike system and surrounding banks of the orchards to prevent saline intrusion; use organic materials and agricultural mulch to keep the plants moist; and not grow new plants during the period of drought and saltwater intrusion. After the disaster, farmers should take special measures to help plants recover. Accordingly, microbial organic fertilizers, foliar fertilizers and bioproducts should be applied, instead of inorganic fertilizers.

In the long term, ministries, agencies and localities should study, survey and invest in perfecting the irrigation infrastructure network to prevent and control drought and saline intrusion, aiming to protect the areas specialising in fruit tree cultivation in the Mekong River Delta region. In additon, it is crucial to enhance the capacity of the forecasting and warning systems for weather, climate, hydrology, nautics and agriculture. The relevant agencies should identify and assess the types of plants affected by climate change to propose directions for crop restructuring; as well as selecting and creating fruit trees or rootstocks resistant to drought and salinity through cross-breeding.