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Experts have called for the urgent implementation of a project that would improve infrastructure in the Long Xuyên quadrangle, a major agricultural hub in southwest Việt Nam.

The VNĐ3.6-trillion (US$160.5 million) project to upgrade infrastructure would help deal with drought and seawater intrusion as well as support long-term development of the quadrangle, Nguyễn Phong Quang, permanent deputy head of the Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region, said.
The Long Xuyên Quadrangle, which consists of the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces of Kiên Giang and An Giang provinces and a small part of Cần Thơ City, has a total farmland of 350,000 hectares, accounting for one-fourth of the Mekong Delta’s total area.
Speaking at a meeting in Cần Thơ City on Monday, Quang said the project would develop the transport system and agricultural production.
The devastating drought and seawater intrusion in the Mekong Delta requires even faster preparations for the project, delegates at the meeting said.
Under the proposed project, a comprehensive infrastructure system prepared by the Southern Institute for Water Resources Research would help sustainable development of agriculture, along with natural disaster prevention and response efforts, in the Long Xuyên quadrangle.
Tô Văn Thanh, deputy director of the Southern Institute for Water Resources Research, said the institute had adapted the project to the current drought and saltwater intrusion in the region.
The project will survey local irrigation and transport facilities, recommend construction solutions, and estimate building expenses.
Experts said existing infrastructure ensured food security in the past but can no longer satisfy demand.
Irrigation works have greatly benefited the region in controlling floods and saltwater intrusion for years. However, they are poorly maintained and not suitable for current weather conditions.
Agricultural restructuring, which will include shifting from rice to fruit and other crops as well as aquaculture, needs improved infrastructure, according to Trần Anh Thư, director of An Giang Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
For instance, a drainage canal is needed from Trà Sư Canal in An Giang Province to Tha La Canal in Kiên Giang Province.
She said that farmers should produce only two rice crops a year and earn more income from aquaculture and other farming models.
Agricultural restructuring should be jointly carried out by all provinces in the delta, she added.
Trần Quang Củi, deputy director of Kiên Giang Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the restructuring programme must deal with the pressing issues of water drainage, water supply and prevention of saltwater intrusion in An Giang, Kiên Giang and Cần Thơ.
Nguyễn Phong Quang, permanent deputy head of the Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region, said the infrastructure project would need a huge amount of capital,  and as a result, more meetings would be held to thrash out and fine-tune the project before it is submitted to the Prime Minister for approval.
Last month, the committee held a meeting with leaders of Cần Thơ City and An Giang and Kiên Giang provinces with the aim of speeding up the project’s implementation. — VNS