Vietnam is suffering an acute food shortage.
SV ZOOM OUT GV: Junk on Red River
SV TRACK: Dried-out mudbanks
SV AND CU: Dried-out rice field. (2 shots)
SCU ZOOM OUT: Farmer standing by irrigation pump (2 shots)
SV ZOOM OUT GV: Green and irrigated rice fields.
SV ZOOM OUT GV: Farmer digging irrigation trench
GV PAN: Dried-up fields TO farmers working field
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Vietnam is suffering an acute food shortage. Wars, natural disasters and, most recently, a severe drought have resulted in crop failures, and made the food shortage so critical the government now says many workers cannot get enough food to sustain them for a full day's work.
SYNOPSIS: The drought has reduced Hanoi's Red River to a trickle compared to its usual width of two thousand metres (yards) when it passes under the capital's bridges. Its dried-out banks are almost useless for agricultural cultivation.
The drought has aggravated Vietnam's chronic food shortage, brought about by a generation of a almost-continuous wars, and by successive years of floods and droughts. This latest drought has lasted for four months, and in the provinces around Hanoi, has stopped farmers from seeding this year's rice crop. Whereas Vietnam needs to produce about nineteen million tonnes of rice a year, the last harvest fell short by more than three million tonnes.
The government is considering a long-term solution -- the development of an extensive irrigation and drainage project in the northern provinces. Since 1976, the equivalent of almost six billion dollars have been invested in the scheme.
The investment has meant that at least part of the rice fields have stayed green. But, with every day without rain, the reservoirs and irrigation canals dry up a little more. Many farmers, whose monthly grain ration has already dropped to about eight kilogrammes (17 pounds) have only one alternative -- instead of planting rice, which needs a lot of water, farmers are switching their crop to potatoes. Once their ration is exhausted, the farmers have to buy grain on the open market - at inflated prices.