Unprecedented levels of saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta have caused coconuts in Ben Tre Province to shrink by half in size, negatively affecting farmers’ incomes even more.
Dwarf coconut grower Tran Trung Tac: "Each dwarf coconut should have at least 250 millimeters of water but now there is just half or even one-fourth of that, and more than 200 coconuts make just one liter of caramel sauce these days." From being the size of a stretched human palm, his coconuts have now become just half that. He said the elevated saltwater levels in rivers used for irrigation are the reason the fruits are no longer as they used to be.
Tac and other farmers are in a dilemma over their future course. One trader said: "This year coconuts are the worst ever. Their cost has therefore dropped dramatically. Dried coconuts now fetch VND90,000 for a bunch of 40 instead of just 12 fruits."
During the last dry season, from late November to May, the delta, home to 12 provinces and Can Tho City, was hit by the worst drought ever and this caused historic levels of salinity in its rivers as water flowed inland from the sea.