Farmers urged to grow high quality rice
HCM CITY (VNS)— Rice farmers in HCM City who cannot switch to other crops because of geographical conditions or other reasons should grow high quality rice or produce rice seeds with high economic value to increase their profits, experts said.
Under the city's policy to develop agriculture, about 20,000ha of rice fields in outlying districts have been converted to cultivate vegetables, flowers, shrimp, ornamental fish and other crops with successful results over the past years, according to the city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Vegetable cultivation, for example, now brings in a revenue of about VND600 million (US$28,500) per hectare a year, several times higher than rice cultivation.
Under the city's zoning plan for agricultural land, it will only have about 3,200ha of rice in outlying areas, mostly in Cu Chi and Binh Chanh districts, by 2020.
However, the disadvantage of rice cultivation in the city was its low productivity, experts said.
In addition, not all rice fields can be converted to grow other crops because there have been low-lying areas and alum contaminated areas which were only suitable for rice cultivation, they said.
Speaking at a meeting middle last month, Nguyen Huu Hoai Phu, deputy chairman of the Cu Chi District People's Committee, said despite rice not being a crop with high economic value, its cultivation cannot disappear rapidly in outlying districts, especially in Cu Chi.
Besides geographical conditions, traditional cultivation habits and an unwillingness to apply new production models, especially among older farmers, were posing obstacles, he said.
He explained that the older farmers were not willing to switch to new production models if they did not see in advance their effectiveness.
With a farming area of 26,000ha, Cu Chi now still has about 5,000ha of rice fields.
Phu said the district would prioritise investing in infrastructure for agricultural areas which have conditions to create large-scale fields for rice and vegetable cultivation.
This would enable farmers to plant high quality rice and co-operate with companies in selling their produce, he said.
Nguyen Thi Anh Ngoc, chairwoman of the Tho Viet Agriculture Co-operative in Cu Chi, said her co-operative would co-operate with local farmers to grow 50ha of rice under the Viet Nam Good Agriculture Practices (VietGap) standards in this year's winter-spring crop.
In Cu Chi, some communes' vegetable farming areas were inundated by rainwater for about four months a year and farmers can take this time to plant rice, she said.
In last year's winter-spring rice crop, Tho Viet co-operated with several farmers in Tan Phu Trung, Trung Lap Ha and Tan Thong Hoi communes to plant 20ha of fragrant rice varieties, including Jasmine, ST and Nang Hoa 09, under VietGap standards.
"Planting rice under VietGap standards has helped farmers reduce by nearly 50 per cent the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, get higher selling prices and have guaranteed sales," Ngoc said.
Le Hung Lan, director of the Hoa Tien Seed Co Ltd in Go Vap District and creator of the fragrant rice variety Nang Hoa 09, said it was suitable for planting in alum contaminated areas and was resistant to drought and diseases caused by brown plant hoppers.
This high-quality rice variety is now exported to the US and Australia at prices of $800-850 a tonne and its seeds for cultivation are now sold at a high price of VND18,000 a kilo.
The high price was a good incentive for outlying districts to produce seed of this rice variety, Lan said.
Le Minh Dung, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said to help rice farmers increase their income, districts should define and zone cultivation areas clearly so the city can invest in infrastructure and provide extension services for planting high quality rice or producing rice seeds that have high economic value. —VNS