Drought troubles Central Highland coffee farmers

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of coffee plants in the Central Highlands have withered and dried from lack of water. 

Farmer pumping water to irrigate his coffee farm in the Central Highlands (Photo: SGGP)

Nearly 80,000 hectares of coffee plantation in Gia Lai Province faces severe drought, a condition to arise much too early this year.
 
All streams, ponds and lakes in the region are more or less dry, in spite of the downpours in mid March. The rainfall has not been sufficient to fill the water bodies.
 
Farmers normally irrigate the coffee plants periodically per crop. For the coffee plants to bloom in time, farmers in the coffee growing area of Ia Sao Commune in Ia Grai District, the biggest coffee plantation in Gia Lai Province, have had to transport water for irrigation from bigger rivers and streams. Some farmers have spent about VND10,000 per plant for water for their coffee farms.
 
A large reservoir covering tens of hectares, supplying water to two coffee areas in the commune, has currently dried up to its bottom just when farmers were preparing to water for the second time.
 
In Dak La Commune in Dak Ha District of Kon Tum Province, the very large Ca Sam irrigation dam that has rarely dried up has now run out of water.
 
Groundwater in Buon Ma Thuot City in Dak Lak Province is also nearly exhausted and farmers have had to lower water pumps over two kilometers deeper into wells to draw water for their coffee farms.
 
Coffee plants are at the fruit bearing stage and if the drought continues to last until the end of April, the year will see a lean harvest.
 
Tran Van Duc, a farmer from Buon Ho Town in Dak Lak Province, said if there is no rainfall in April more than 30 percent of the coffee crop will perish and only rain can assure of a less than 5-7 percent crop failure.
 
In search of water for coffee plants
 
Thousands of coffee farmers in the Central Highlands are concerned about the water shortage as they wait for the second watering of the plants.
 
They have already spent tens of million of dongs to dig tube wells to find water for their farms.
 
Last month around ten wells, 20-30 meters deep and 5 meters in diameter were dug amidst the coffee plantations in Ia Bang Commune in Giai Lai Province.  
 
Many old wells have dried up and farmers have had to dig new ones at a greater depth. However, artesian wells in many areas do not pump sufficient water as groundwater too is drying up.
 
Nguyen Van Suong, a farmer from Duc Co District in Gia Lai Province, said he has spent VND17 million to dig a well in the middle of a stream but it can only  supply enough water for 30 coffee plants per day.

By Duc Trung – Translated by Hoang Yen

Other news