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Local farmers reap gains of high-tech agriculture

Update: January, 10/2014 - 08:29

Farmers cultivate rice with a Kubota rice transplanter in Lien Bat Commune in Ha Noi's Ung Hoa District. The country will increase the use of machinery in agricultural production nationwide to improve farming efficiency. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue

HCM CITY (VNS) — The increased use of machines in agricultural production has significantly contributed to improved productivity in agriculture, minimised post-harvest losses and raised farmers' income.

As of today, the country has about 600,000 tractors of all kinds, a rise of four-fold over 2001, said Doan Xuan Hoa, deputy head of the Department of Agro-Forestry Products Processing and Salt Industry.

It also has 266,371 threshers, 20,000 harvesters and 72,288 animal feed producing machines in addition to thousands of other specialised machines, he said.

Currently, rice threshing and milling have high mechanisation rate of 95 per cent, while 80 per cent of soil preparation for rice cultivation is mechanised, Hoa said.

Southern Long An and Kien Giang provinces are among the localities leading the country in the use of machinery for agricultural production and therefore, their farming efficiency has been higher than in other regions, he said.

According to Mai Thanh Phung, chief of the National Agriculture Extension Centre's representative office in HCM City, rice production in the delta, the country's biggest rice basket, has encountered an increasing shortage of labourers, therefore using machines has become an urgent need.

The use of harvesting machines has helped reduce the costs by 50 per cent, as well as reducing post-harvest losses, he said.

However, among farming processes, the use of machines in harvesting and drying remains low, accounting for 35 per cent and 45 per cent respectively, Hoa said.

Many localities reported that there are lots of factors that limit mechanisation of agricultural production in the country.

Most farming plots remain too small to use machines, they said, adding that the number of machines made in Viet Nam has not yet met domestic demand, while imported machines are too expensive for most farmers.

Technical instruction as well as machinery maintenance for farmers remained weak, jeopardising the effectiveness of machines, they said.

According to the Kien Giang Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Government has issued several policies to support farmers to purchase agricultural machinery, including interest-free loans, but not many farmers have taken them because, among other reasons, they lack assets to pledge as collateral.

Under the Government's agricultural mechanisation plan, the country will aim to raise the mechanisation rate in soil preparation to 95 per cent by 2015 increasing this to 100 per cent by 2020, and in harvesting to 70 per cent by 2015, to over 80 per cent by 2020.

It also plans to increase the use of machinery in other farming processes, including rice sowing, transplanting, and watering.

To realise the targets, Hoa suggested that localities review their zoning plans, improve infrastructure and irrigation systems, and establish large-scale farms to facilitate use of machinery in agricultural production.

Agricultural machinery manufacturers should conduct more research and provide the market with better suited combine-harvesters and dryers to ensure efficiency.

He also suggested that local agricultural machinery manufacturers co-operate with foreign counterparts to produce machines suited for the local market, helping reduce prices.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Long An Province suggested the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have a technical training programme which would include the operation, maintenance and repair of agricultural machines, especially for combine harvesters and dryers.

It also petitioned the Government to review and adjust the policies to enable more farmers take advantage of them. — VNS

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