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Vietnam’s ‘fruit kingdoms’ ravaged by salinization

Monday, March 21, 2016, 15:46 GMT+7

Farmers in several provinces of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta are struggling with severe salinization that is damaging a growing area of local fruit gardens.

Tien Giang and Ben Tre Provinces are both labelled 'fruit kingdoms' because of their vast plantations in the Mekong Delta.

The most famous types of fruit grown in the two locations include grapefruit, durian, mango, rambutan, jackfruit and mangosteen. All have been widely consumed domestically, as well as being exported all over the world.

Unlike in previous years, in 2016 salt water has infiltrated the rivers and ponds near these local fruit gardens, resulting in farmers unwittingly watering their plants with water containing a high level of salt.

Plants with low salt tolerance will generally wither after a few days while the fruits of several others will not grow due to a lack of fresh water.

Authorities in Tieng Giang and Ben Tre have recorded thousands of hectares of fruit, as well as millions of plants and flowers, destroyed by the infiltration of salt water.

The volume of dead plants continues to rise each day, resulting in a growing number of farmers broke and indebted.

Locals have been struggling to figure out a way to save their fruit trees as national meteorologists are not forecasting rain until June.


Farmers in Cho Lach District, Ben Tre Province, gather at the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to have the salt content of their irrigation water measured. Photo: Tuoi Tre


Water samples awaiting measurement are placed on a table. Photo: Tuoi Tre


A grapefruit grown in Ben Tre and Tien Giang Provinces weighs only 400 grams, half of its usual mass, due to the severe climatic conditions. Photo: Tuoi Tre


Tran Van Cam (R), a fruit farmer in Cai Lay District, Tien Giang Province, uses a specialized device to measure the salinity of his water source. Many of his durian trees could be killed if the salinity of the water reaches 1.1 grams per liter or over. Photo: Tuoi Tre


Pham Van Phe, of Ben Tre Province, makes an artificial pond to store fresh water from a well he recently dug. Photo: Tuoi Tre


Nguyen Thi Lan, living in Cho Lach District, Ben Tre Province, has to clear up 13,000 rambutan trees, 15,000 grapefruit plants, 4,500 durian trees, and 8,000 jackfruit plants which she accidentally killed after watering them with salt water. Photo: Tuoi Tre


Huynh Kim Doan burns his dead rambutan trees in Cho Lach District, Ben Tre Province. Photo: Tuoi Tre


Tran Van Cam covers a sewer entrance to prevent salt water from leaking into his durian garden in Cai Lay District, Tien Giang Province. Photo: Tuoi Tre


People in Cai Lay District, Tien Giang Province, shield a sewer entrance to prevent salt water from leaking into a canal and affecting farmers’ durian trees. Photo: Tuoi Tre


People harvest ripe durians at Nguyen Van Hung’s garden in Tien Giang Province. These fruits managed to grow fully before salinity hit the area. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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