Mekong Delta Agriculture, Now and Future
The Mekong Delta has a total population of 20 million persons, representing 21 percent of the national population. The Mekong Delta is the largest agricultural, fishing, and fruit-producing centre in Việt Nam. Rice production in the region accounts for 50 percent of the country, with 90 percent destined for export. The region also makes up over 60 percent of the country’s seafood production. Fruit trees play an important role in this region and Việt Nam in general. The GDP of the Mekong Delta as of June 2019 is 7.8 percent.
Drought and saline intrusion have affected agricultural production, with estimated production losses of about 460,000ha and approximately 200,000 households lacking safe water for domestic uses. Conditions have resulted in water scarcity and significant crop damage, threatening agricultural production, livelihoods, and access to drinking water by local populations.
There could be a high risk of food insecurity and loss of income, especially among poor and vulnerable households, as the region is the country’s major rice producer. The COVID-19 outbreak is putting additional socio-economic pressure on vulnerable households already affected by drought and saltwater intrusion.
Groundwater is being extracted at an ever-faster rate to support growing urbanization. That’s causing severe erosion and the collapse of river banks. On the one hand, the land is sinking because of erosion. While on the other hand, rising sea levels are swallowing up low-lying coastal areas. It is the country’s rice bowl, and it is now slowly sinking into the sea.
Hence, the Vietnamese government has come up with an arrangement to economically create and adjust the locale’s agriculture to climate change until 2030 with a vision to 2045, rice production will be reduced while sustainable fruit product cultivating expanded. It’s said the sector will develop and put into use climate change-resistant plant varieties with high yield and quality. It will also assist in boosting farmers’ and cooperatives’ connectivity with consumers and enterprises.
Hence, the upper sub-district will make broadened cultivating, centering in on rice and striped catfish farming, on a sustainable basis. The upper sub-region holds an important role in regulating and draining the delta’s floods caused by the rising level of the Mekong River in the rainy season.
In the middle sub-region, horticulture will be the focus in an aim to develop the country’s largest fruit growing area. In addition, the middle sub-region will develop concentrated rice-growing areas, vegetables, industrial trees, freshwater aquaculture, and brackishwater aquaculture.
Due to climate change and water shortages, drought and saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta will continue to be unpredictable in the near future, affecting fruit production in Việt Nam’s key farming region. Therefore, along with updating information on the drought and salinity situation to promptly stockpile fresh water and prevent saline intrusion, Mekong Delta localities need to continue investing in dike and irrigation systems to combat drought and saltwater as protecting fruit-tree growing areas.
The coastal sub-region will develop agriculture-based mainly on saline and brackish water and promote its advantage for aquaculture. It will also develop areas for specialty rice and plants that need less freshwater and are resistant to saline water.
According to the ministry, the coastal sub-region, which has the largest forest area in the delta, will develop an agroforestry system towards ecology, organic agriculture, and ecotourism.
The delta will continue to decrease its rice-growing area, increase areas of fruit and aquaculture, and develop breeding animals with advanced techniques and on a large scale. It will also create mangrove forests and forest-based livelihood models, as well as ecotourism.