Losses from the severe drought that is parching central and southern Vietnam have risen to almost US$250 million as it ravages vast plantations and seafood farms, officials said.
The number was compiled by the Central Steering Committee on Natural Disasters Prevention which surveyed the impact on agriculture in the Central Highlands, south central provinces and the Mekong Delta in the last three and a half months.
The drought, the worst in the country in 90 years, has destroyed nearly 260,000 hectares of rice and vegetables, more than 160,000 hectares of orchards and cash crops and more than 4,500 hectares of seafood farms, according to the report.
Nearly 340,000 families face a water shortage, it said.
Some 70 percent of agriculture land have dried up in the Central Highlands and south central provinces, which are the main producers of Vietnam’s prime exports of coffee and pepper.
Low water levels in the Mekong River have caused seawater to intrude 90 kilometers into the basin, the furthest recorded in history. Eleven out of 13 provinces in the delta have declared the drought a natural disaster.
The agriculture ministry has urged the government to provide more than VND1 trillion ($44.6 million) in relief to the affected areas as the situation is likely to continue until September and spread to the north central provinces as well.
Water in rivers in the affected areas can drop by more than 90 percent below average levels, it said.