Drought delays rice farming as Mekong water levels drop

World Today

Vietnamese officials have asked farmers to postpone sowing their rice crop until 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.

CCTV’s Tony Cheng reports from the Mekong Delta.

Drought delays rice farming as Mekong water levels drop

Vietnamese officials have asked farmers to postpone sowing their rice crop until 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. CCTV's Tony Cheng reports from the Mekong Delta.

Duong Thanh Tung has been farming land here for 25 years and he’s never known a drought like this. His dried and cracked rice fields, usually lush and moist, can’t even grow grass for livestock to graze on.

There is little chance of getting a rice harvest this year.

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.

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

Projects such as the one in Thailand that pumps water from the Mekong for drought relief have depleted the volume of the river so much that only a trickle is making it to Vietnam.

The officials who monitor the river have seen levels drop by 40-60 percent in this province. It’s the worst drought in recorded history and the records go back more than 100 years.