Farmers in the Mekong Delta depend heavily on the wet season inundating their fields but this year the rains are late.
Mekong Delta provinces such as Long An, Dong Thap and An Giang are normally grappling with floods at this time of year but the heavy rains are yet to come. In most places this would be good news but in the Delta it’s anything but. Farmers anticipate the flooding as it gives them the chance to earn money from fishing as the flood waters nourish their fields. It’s outside of harvest time, so their fields lay idle.
Mr. Be Hai, a farmer in Dong Thap province, usually earns VND200,000 ($9) from planting crops but during the flood season he buys 200 fishing baskets and earns VND300,000 to VND400,000 ($13.50 to $18) a day. As he always does every year, he deposited VND4.5 million ($202) in May on leasing additional land and bought the 200 baskets, for a total outlay of over VND30 million ($1,352).
“I borrowed almost all of the money but I haven’t caught a fish in over two months because the land is still dry,” Mr. Hai told local media.
Other people have invested even more. Ms. Le Thi Hien and her family in An Giang province purchased high-quality fishing equipment at a cost of more than VND300 million ($13,515) and also have to pay wages to their fishery workers.
“Every time I open a net there’s only a few fish,” she complained to local media. “The floods haven’t come so we’re losing money.”
The Steering Committee for Flood and Storm Prevention in Long An province said that water levels measured at the Tan Hung and Vinh Hung stations on October 1 were 1.55 meters and 1.52 meters, respectively, or 0.4 meters to 0.6 meters less than in 2014 and 1.2 meters to 2 meters less than in 2011.
The dry spell has been caused by the El Nino weather pattern and climate change. Rainfall has also fallen dramatically upstream of the Mekong River and the situation is exacerbated by dams in China and Laos.