The rice production sector in the Mekong River Delta (MRD) of Vietnam is getting climate-smart in coping with El Niño.

Several global forecasting centers released an advisory that a mild El Niño will happen from March to May 2019. With this warning, the Department of Crop Production (DCP) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) issued a directive to adjust the planting calendar in the rice production areas in MRD to avoid the impacts of salinity intrusion.

In August 2018, the MARD Vice Minister issued a directive for DCP to monitor the upcoming El Niño and adjust the rice planting calendar during the winter-spring season. Based on the reports of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) of the 13 MRD provinces, areas planting earlier (November 2018) reached 802,702 hectares (from 174,538has in 2017) and a reduction in later planting (December to February) to 596,543 (from 1,226,961has). This covers more than 600,000 hectares enabling farmers to avoid salinity intrusion, which was intensified by the recent El Niño, during the winter-spring rice planting season.

The adjustments were guided by the climate-risk related maps and adaptation plans (CS-MAP) developed by the 13 provinces comprising the MRD, DCP-MARD and CCAFS-SEA. The Director General of DCP, emphasized that “the risk maps and cropping calendar maps are a good foundation for the DCP and provincial DARDs to adjust the planting date of winter-spring season in the Mekong River Delta.” The CS-MAP was developed based on the field assessment in MRD conducted by five CGIAR Research Centers and MARD.

Based on the assessment, there is lack of coordination among relevant ministries, line departments, and local authorities in providing climate-risk warnings. Also, the warnings were not translated properly into needed advisories. As a response, MARD and CCAFS-SEA developed the CS-MAP methodology. CS-MAP is a participatory approach to integrate local knowledge and science-based research in developing climate-related risks maps and adaptation plans, especially those that consider location-specific conditions. With simple color coding (red-high risk, yellow-moderate, and green-safe) the rice areas were mapped in terms of risk to salinity intrusion and flooding.

The implementation of CS-MAP was highly commended by the DCP-MARD, and leaders of the 13 provincial DARD. The maps and proposed adaptation plans were considered key information in developing the medium- and long-term agricultural land-use plans of the individual provinces, as well as of the whole MRD.


Links to communication materials relating to this story:

Climate-Smart MAPs to aid in rice production at the Mekong River Delta of Vietnam
Vietnam adopts pre-emptive measures in the Mekong River Delta against El Niño
Climate Risk Informed Crop Calendar developed for the 13 provinces in the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam
Vietnam adopts pre-emptive measures in the Mekong River Delta against El Niño


Photo by I. Serrano/IRRI .