Northern crops devastated by drought

By Gia Chinh   July 30, 2023 | 01:47 am PT
Northern crops devastated by drought
A farmer walks in a corn farm burned by heat waves in Lao Cai Province, July 2023. Photo by Lao Cai People's Committee
Prolonged heat waves and months of little to no rain have destroyed crops and cut agricultural production in mountainous border provinces up north.

Authorities in Lao Cai Province said 11,500 hectares of agriculture, forestry and fishery had been affected by drought in the first six months of the year.

More than 50 hectares of permanent crops were over 70% damaged, resulting in economic losses of more than VND205 billion (US$8.64 million).

Besides, more than 8,300 hectares of corn burned, leading to low yields and losses totaling VND190 billion. Nearly 1,500 hectares of forest also dried up, resulting in VND106 billion in total losses.

Quang Van Viet, deputy chief of the Office of the Commanding Committee for Disaster Prevention and Search and Rescue in Lao Cai, said the damage caused by this year's drought was the worst of the past decade.

In previous years, natural disasters were mainly floods and landslides. Last year, the province suffered economic losses totaling VND125 billion due to 27 natural disasters, including five periods of severe cold and 22 heavy rains. But there was no drought.

During the first half this year, Lao Cai, home to resort town Sa Pa, experienced three heat waves that lasted more than 15 days. During these periods, the average temperature remained 37-39 degrees Celsius.

The rainfall amount in April-June dropped to only 38-58% of the same period last year, causing a lack of water for agricultural production and daily life.

The local government has announced plans to support affected farmers.

Those with 2,200 hectares of seedlings, rice, corn and vegetables that have been damaged by 70% or more will be aided with more than VND4.6 billion.

In Ha Giang Province, rainfall in the first five months of the year was 30-60% lower than the average of the last several years.

Statistics show that more than 5,600 hectares of crops dried up in six districts.

Among the affected crops, corn suffered the most, with more than 3,700 dried hectares, followed by soybeans with nearly 500 hectares.

In Bac Kan, drought has destroyed 3,600 ha of crops worth VND6.3 billion.

More than 1,600 ha of forests burned, causing a VND5 billion loss.

This summer, Vietnam began experiencing above-average hot temperatures as soon as in April.

On May 7, the mercury climbed to 44.2 degrees Celsius, setting a new national record.

In late May and early June, the water levels at a number of hydroelectric reservoirs fell to levels below the threshold safe for electricity generation.

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