CUU LONG DELTA — Farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta are planting large quantities of low-quality rice, despite warnings from the agriculture sector about restricting its use in the summer-autumn crop.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has warned farmers in the Delta, the country's rice granary, that the high-yield and short-grain IR 50404 must be planted on less than 20 per cent of the total area.
This kind of rice was told not easy to sell, but it is currently bringing high prices.
Farmers in Hau Giang Province have planted 76,000 ha of the summer-autumn crop and the variety IR 50404 accounted for more than 20 per cent.
In Hau Giang, farmer Nguyen Quoc Viet in Chau Thanh A District, who is now planting one ha of IR 50404, said that if the price was a little lower than or equal to long-grain rice varieties at the crop end, farmers would still have high profits.
"So farmers grow IR 50404 not only for the winter-spring crop when the weather is fine, but also with other crops because of its high profits," he said.
The average yield of IR 50404 is often one to two tonnes per ha higher than other rice varieties, while the cost of fertiliser and pesticide is much lower than that used for other rice varieties.
Farmer Nguyen Van Hoa in Dong Thap District in Dong Thap Province said he was planting 1.2 ha of the IR 50404 rice.
In the last winter-spring crop, IR 50404 had a good harvest and its price was high, so many farmers chose to plant it for the summer-autumn crop because its yield and profit were higher than long-grain rice varieties, according to Hoa.
"Over the past few years, the agriculture sector had warned farmers not to plant this variety because of its low quality. It was also difficult to sell," he said.
However, farmers earn profits from planting IR 50404, so they plant it although they know the high risk of difficulty in selling it, he said.
For another reason, farmers in Thap Muoi, Cao Lanh and Tam Nong districts chose to plant IR 50404 because it has a short gestation period of 87 to 90 days.
If farmers plant IR 50404 in the summer-autumn crop, they can continue planting the autumn-winter crop before the flooding season begins.
In Kien Giang Province, farmers have planted 200,000 ha of the summer-autumn and IR 50404, which accounts for up to 32 per cent of all rice planted.
Tran Quang Cui, deputy director of the Kien Giang Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said farmers were aware of the high price of IR 50404, so they planted it despite the warning.
The quality of IR 50404 paddy is often low in the summer-autumn crop because of unfavourable weather conditions.
When farmers began planting the summer-autumn rice crop, the price of IR 50504 had increased to VND5,300-5,600 a kg, nearly equal to the price of high-quality and long-grain rice varieties.
Nguyen Thanh Hong, a trader who buys rice in Hau Giang and Kien Giang provinces, said that the price of IR 50404 rice had recently gone up because processors had bought more of the rice for export.
However, farmers in Mekong Delta provinces have planted more than 20 per cent of the total rice area with IR 50404.
Farmers have rushed to plant this rice because of high prices offered by rice companies.
The Delta is expected to plant about 1.63 million ha of rice for the summer-autumn crop. — VNS