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Đồng Tháp Province is urging farmers to stop sowing the winter-spring rice as floodwaters are rising rapidly and could overflow embankments into rice fields.

The annual floods, which are caused by the rising levels of the Mekong River, are threatening rice fields with low embankments in Đồng Tháp, one of the hardest flood-hit provinces in the Mekong Delta.

Farmers in Đồng Tháp have planted more than 110,000ha of winter-spring rice, reaching 86 per cent of their target.

In Tháp Mười District, more than 36,400ha of winter-spring rice has been planted, accounting for the largest area in the province.

Of the figure, farmers have harvested more than 2,000ha so far, but 8,000ha are threatened by flood water.

To protect embankments, district authorities have set up 107 teams with 900 people.

Nguyễn Văn Lâm, whose rice field is threatened by floods in Tháp Mười’s Thạnh Lợi Commune, said he and other farmers were worried about the collapse of embankments.

If embankments break, his rice fields will be wiped out.   

On September 12, the collapse of an embankment destroyed 150ha of rice that was about to be harvested in Thạnh Lợi Commune’s Hamlet 2, causing total damage of VNĐ4 billion (US$172,000).

Đoàn Văn Tuấn, deputy chairman of the Thạnh Lợi Commune People’s Committee, said there were a high number of areas threatened by floods.

Most old embankments are flooded and the commune has had to consolidate them to  protect rice. 

This year, farmers in Đồng Tháp planted the winter - spring rice later than normal and floods arrived earlier so the number of winter-spring rice areas threatened by floods is high.

In areas where winter-spring rice fields are in the ripening stage and are threatened by floods, farmers have harvested them early to avoid flood damage.

Lê Văn Duyên, who planted 5ha of winter-spring rice in Tháp Mười District’s Thạnh Lợi Commune, harvested rice five days earlier than scheduled.

He planted the winter-spring rice according to the district’s recommended schedule but floods came a month earlier this year.

The early harvest has caused a decline in yield of 40 per cent compared to last year’s winter-spring rice crop, according to farmers.

Nguyễn Văn Công, director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said localities should strictly monitor rice planting schedules and forecasts, and inspect embankments where rice is the ripening stage.

If the embankments are severely threatened by floods, localities should support farmers so they can harvest their rice early to avoid damage. – VNS