Vietnamese province of Ca Mau faces severe irrigation shortages

Ca Mau is the only province in the Mekong Delta that cannot access water from the Mekong and relies mostly on rainwater for irrigation. But more and more often, Ly Van Lam Commune, one of the largest vegetable growing areas in Ca Mau City, has seen its irrigation canals dry up and farmers struggle to find water for their crops.

Following instructions from local authorities at the beginning of the ongoing dry season, farmers grew only short - term crops like onion, bitter melon, mustard greens, gourds, and cucumber.   To secure water for their vegetables, many farmers have had to drill borewells to draw groundwater. But groundwater has become scarce and farmers drilling now have difficulty finding water.

Mac Ngoc Truyen, chairman of the Ly Van Lam Commune Farmers Association, said the association has told farmers not to grow vegetables on large areas like they did before. This would help farmers save water, use water meant for domestic use and mitigate the losses caused by the drought, he said.

In Tran Van Thoi District, vegetable farmers are facing a poor harvest because of the lack of water while the prices of vegetables have fallen dramatically.

Vu Dang Khoa, chairman of the Minh Ha Agriculture Service Co-operative in the district’s Khanh Binh Dong Commune, said after Tet (Lunar New Year) members grew pumpkin and gourds. When the crops began to bear fruit, there was no water and the yield is set to fall by half, he said. The co-operative’s members have built a temporary dam to store water, but there is not enough to irrigate crops, he added.

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