Soaring temperatures and drought threaten rice crops in Indochina
Zero rainfall and scorching heat have pushed the farmers of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam to abandon the rice paddies. South-East Asia is in the grips of the devastating effects of El Niño. The level of the Mekong River has also dropped. Now heavy monsoon rains threaten to cause massive foods in parched lands.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews) - The prolonged lack of rain, combined with temperatures far above the average has driven many farmers in certain rural areas of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to leave fields and rice paddies uncultivated.

This is confirmed by experts and agronomists from the three countries in the South-East Asia, which are already experiencing firsthand the effects on global climate caused by El Niño, capable of bringing devastating floods to some parts of the world and prolonged drought in others.

Since the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical  "Laudato sì", dedicated to the environment and creation, our "common home", has returned the issue of ecology and the effects of man on the future development of the planet to the fore.

Speaking to Radio Free Asia (RFA), a farmer known by the nickname of Dan, originally from the rural district of Ky Anh, Ha Tinh province in central Vietnam, confirmed that he abandoned the fields due to drought. " Normally, the main crop grows around May in the spring, but because there is no rain, we have had to leave the fields empty."

For the Vietnamese farmer the drought problem is exacerbated by the rapid uncontrolled growth of the manufacturing industry in the area, which has caused serious environmental damage. He also makes specific allegations against Chinese companies, which dam up the flow of river water to reach the camps.

Added to this is the abnormally warm wind coming from the west, combined with drought which has caused the death of many plants and parched the land. The fear, they warn, is that once this period of drought is over the effect of monsoon floods in the second half of the year will be far more devastating.

In Laos the drought caused by El Niño has greatly reduced the production of rice. A farmer of Vientiane, speaking anonymously said that "normally in June the rice begins to sprout, but this year June passed, and many farmers still have not be able to grow any rice,” said a farmer in the capital Vientiane who declined to give his name. “They are waiting for the rain, but if it does not rain, they will not be able to produce rice this season”.

In addition to Vietnam and Laos, Cambodia is also experiencing the devastating effects of drought on crops, particularly in the center and west of the country, around the province of Kampong Chhnan, which is home to the local production of rice. Meanwhile, meteorologists warn that by next week the monsoons will have arrived and with them severe flooding and landslides.