AN GIANG — A farmer from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of An Giang has successfully created 19 new strains of robust, high-yield rice by cross-pollinating various strains.
Hoa Si Hien, 43, has called the new strains Tan Chau (TC1 to TC 19) after Tan Chau town where he lives.
"My two latest strains – 18 and 19 – are highly resistant to brown plant hoppers and rice blast disease since they were created from wild varieties," he said.
During the last summer-autumn crop, TC 18 and 19 yielded 5.5 tonnes per hectare without the use of pesticides, he said.
"During this winter-spring crop, I am experimenting by growing the two rice strains without using fertilisers on an area of 1,000 square meters."
Hien was not born into a farmer's family but at the age of 25, after he married, his wife's parents gave him a 2,000sq.m rice field.
With his hard work, he managed to buy more land, increasing his holding to 1.8ha.
Getting good rice strains was always his biggest concern since he had to go to other districts to buy them, and he sometimes returned empty-handed.
In 2004 the man who left school when was a sixth-grader attended a training course in creating rice strains held by Can Tho University and the An Giang Agriculture Extension Centre.
After that he began to carry out research in an effort to create a new variety.
After several failures he managed to grow four new varieties in 2007.
Since then he has continued with his efforts.
"I hope I can create more strains that are able to resist the droughts in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) and central regions as well as salinity in coastal areas."
In the last two years he has instructed students from An Giang and Can Tho universities in practical techniques to create rice strains.
In 2009 Hien received a merit certificate from the International Rice Research Institute for his contributions.
The Cuu Long Rice Research Institute has gifted Hien with a microscope and the An Giang People's Committee gave him an instrument to measure moisture in rice grains.
Nguyen Thanh Hung, deputy head of the Tan Chau Town Farmers Association, said most of Hien's strains were suitable for growing all over the delta since they were highly resistant to brown plant-hoppers and rice blast disease and of high quality and yield 6-8 tonnes per hectare.
"TC's 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 17 are now planted widely in Tan Chau and other areas," he said.
"Can Tho University is planning to recommend that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development certify TC 2 and TC 5 as "national-level" rice strains," he added. — VNS