Drought causes big losses to Tây Nguyên farmers

VNN – Update: February, 23/2019 – 09:00
Sugarcane farmers in the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Gia Lai had lost hundreds of billions of đồng due to a prolonged severe drought in the region. – Photo thanhnien.vn

Gia Lai – Sugarcane farmers in the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Gia Lai had lost hundreds of billions of đồng due to a prolonged severe drought in the region, reported Thanh Niên (Young People) Newspaper.

The drought is forecast to continue and become more serious due to the strong evolution of the El Nino phenomena this year.

This time of year is the peak season for sugarcane farmers. In eastern ​​Gia Lai, the districts of Kon Chro, Đăk Pơ and Kbang and An Khê Township have been suffering for months.

The An Khê Sugar Factory, the biggest sugar factory in the country with consumption of 16,000 tonnes of sugarcane, had also been hit by the drought, said the paper.

The province has 30,000ha of sugarcane plantations that supply the factory, but months with out rain had badly affected the crops.

The drought and unusual changes in the weather had also made the sugarcane flower early which caused lower sugar concentration.

As a result, thousands of sugarcane farmers had suffered losses.

Nguyễn Hoàng Phước, deputy director of An Khê Sugar Factory, told the paper that “according to initial statistics, sugarcane productivity of the province dropped by 25 to 30 per cent, equal to 450,000 to 500,000 tonnes, compared to the same period last year”.

“With a price of VNĐ800,000 (US$34.5) per kilogramme, farmers had lost hundreds of billions of đồng,” Phước said.

The farmers had also lost VNĐ35million to 38 million (US$1,500 to 1,600) per ha of newly-planted trees due to the cost of nurslings, fertiliser and labour, he said.

Notably, this year’s sugar price is lower than in previous years which had pushed the price of sugarcane down.

Water shortage

The drought was not only affecting agricultural production but also hydro-power plants and people’s lives, said the paper.

Two plants in the province with total capacity of 173MW had reduced power output since earlier this year because of inadequate water levels.

Đỗ Đức Hoài, deputy director of the Kanak Plant, said: “Currently, the water in reservoir is about 20 million to 30 million cu.m compared to its capacity of 290 to 300 million cu.m.”

Since early this year, the plant had produced just 10 to 15 per cent of its capacity.

“The water level is likely to drop further in the next few days”, Hoài said.

Meanwhile, the An Khê Hydro-Power Plant had to stop generating in early January to ensure a water level of 427m in its reservoir which supplies water for the Sài Gòn-An Khê Water Plant and discharges to lowland areas.

The drought had forced the Sài Gòn – An Khê Water Plant to stop supplying clean water to 6,000 households in An Khê Township and Đăk Pơ District.

These difficulties had been reported to authorities and provincial leaders had asked the An Khe – Kanak Hydropower Company to operate and regulate An Khê and Kanak reservoirs to ensure clean water supplies to people in the area, according to chairman of An Khê Township People’s Committee, Nguyễn Hùng Vỹ.

However, conditions were likely to worsen because Gia Lai  Province and the whole Tây Nguyên region were only at the start of the dry season.

“The region has been affected by El Nino so unseasonal rains would be less and the rainy season could arrive late”, said Trần Trung Thành, deputy director of the Hydro – Meteorological Forecasting Centre in Tây Nguyên.

Districts in the east and southeast of Gia Lai would continue to suffer the most until mid-June,  Thành added. – VNS

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