HANOI, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, Vietnam's largest rice-growing area, is stepping up measures to cope with El Nino-induced adverse weather conditions this year, Vietnam News reported on Tuesday.
The anticipated return of the El Nino weather phenomenon would come with higher average temperature, raising concerns that the Mekong Delta is likely to be hit by drought or saltwater intrusion, said Le Quoc Anh, deputy chairman of the provincial People's Committee of Kien Giang.
The province is getting prepared to fight against the expected extreme weather conditions this year, including checking freshwater sources and irrigation sluices and dams to prevent leakage and intrusion by saltwater.
Local agriculture authorities said farmers need the government's support to build a dam system that surrounds the entire farmland and prevents salt water from leaking into a canal and affecting crops.
The province has either built or upgraded 40 temporary dams to prevent saltwater intrusion and provided water for irrigating 281,000 hectares of winter-spring rice and household use.
Tran Cong Danh, deputy director of the agriculture department, said assessments of the drought and saltwater intrusion would be submitted to the provincial leaders to take preventive measures.
Local authorities are also set to raise farmers' awareness about salinity so that they would not accidentally ruin their crops by watering them with salt water.
Vietnam's Mekong Delta accounts for 50 percent of the country's rice and fruit production, 90 percent of its rice exports, and 60 percent of shrimp and fish exports, according to the agriculture ministry.
The El Nino weather pattern is likely to form in Vietnam during the last half of the summer, with a 70-80 percent chance of the phenomenon persisting into 2024, said Mai Van Khiem, head of the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecast.
El Nino typically suppresses rainfall, therefore the average rainfall across Vietnam is expected to drop 25-50 percent, the expert said.