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Saline Agriculture in Mekong Delta, Vietnam




IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education (lead), The Salt Doctors,

Can Tho University.

This project is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme which is funded

by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic


1 year, 2019-2020

Project description:

Can Tho University is a knowledge hub in Mekong Delta aiming at supporting socio-economic development and environment protection by providing high quality education, training, research, and development.


Mekong Delta is a food basket for Vietnam which produces 75% of rice for the country. However, frequent drought and seawater intrusion have caused serious problem for rice crop.

Rice cultivation in the dry season has stopped in many areas due to shortage of freshwater for irrigation.

Salinization of soil and water in the coastal zone makes impossible for rice plantation. This situation will become worse in anticipation of future climate change and sea level rise. Significant changes in water use and agriculture practice are required to adapt to these changes.


The objectives of the requested training are as follows:

1)        Promote salt tolerant crops

2)        Optimize brackish groundwater use for irrigation

3)        Develop a strategy for saline agriculture in Mekong Delta




-          A large number of professionals (26) were changed their perspective to cultivate salt tolerant crops in Mekong Delta;

-          Female participants (12) were attracted to acquire know-how in saline agriculture and are expected to play a key role in promoting saline

           agriculture in Mekong Delta;

-          Agricultural sector was made aware of alternative crops of salt tolerant vegetables in 6 coastal provinces;

-          Can Tho University was made capable to promote saline agriculture in Mekong Delta.

-          a large number (26) of specialists have been trained including junior university staff and water and agricultural experts from provinces in Mekong


-          a lead farmer was trained to cultivate salt tolerant vegetables;

-          MSc students were trained to cultivate salt tolerant vegetables in the greenhouse.


A pilot field trial was performed near Soc Trang. The results provided insight in the development of the salinity levels in both soil and irrigation water. The soil salinity in the adjacent rice paddy was monitored during the dry season as well.

Results showed that even without crop cultivation, soil salinity levels did increase. This means that the crop cultivation in the dry season, as performed in the pilot, did not change the salinity development as compared to the non-cultivated land.

This highlights the potential of sustainable use of the land during the dry season.

The monitoring during the pilot also showed that the water management (irrigation) was most likely the main constraint in achieving maximum yields.


Future work should focus even more on the water management aspects. Based on the measured salinity levels, the cultivation of salt tolerant crops should be possible during the dry season.

fiel trial2.jpg
Harvest 1.jpg
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