HCM CITY (VNS)— The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Long An plans to develop an area of 400-500ha devoted to its popular rice speciality, Nang Thom Cho Dao, which has national protected status under the National Office of Intellectual Property.
The cultivation area and quality of this rice variety has declined in recent years.
Le Minh Duc, director of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the area would produce Nang Thom Cho Dao with a consistent level of quality.
Nang Thom Cho Dao, one of the country's famous fragrant-rice varieties, is grown in Can Duoc District's My Le Commune, where the soil is suited to the small and long grain variety of the rice. If it were planted elsewhere, it would not have a fragrant aroma.
Huynh Van Co, chairman of the My Le Co-operative in My Le Commune, said that previously farmers planted this rice variety one crop a year with an average yield of 1.3-1.7 tonnes per ha.
With the building of dykes to prevent flooding in rice fields, the rice now has two crops a year with an average yield of four tonnes per ha, which has reduced quality, he said.
The building of dykes around rice fields has impoverished soil as the water of the Vam Co River cannot flow in and out the fields and bring in silt during the flooding season, he said.
In addition, many farmers have planted hybrid varieties of Nang Thom Cho Dao to get a higher yield, he said, adding that these have also caused the quality of the rice to decline.
Nang Thom Cho Dao has a mature period of six months, two times longer than many rice varieties.
Because of the long-term maturing period and low yield of Nang Thom Cho Dao compared to other rice varieties, many farmers in My Le Commune have switched to other rice varieties for better profits.
To attract more farmers to grow this rice, the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has developed large-scale rice fields for Nang Thom Cho Dao since the 2012-13 winter-spring crop.
Under this model, participating farmers are taught planting techniques of this rice variety under Vietnamese Good Agriculture Practices (VietGap). They are then guaranteed outlets.
The model has been carried out in more than 50ha, according to the Can Duoc District Bureau Agriculture and Rural Development.
Duc said the department has dredged canals in rice fields and opened more sluice gates to drain water in rice fields to improve soil quality.
The province's Agriculture Extension Centre is working with the National Plant Seed Centre to improve the pure variety of Nang Thom Cho Dao, he said.
The supply of Nang Thom Cho Dao pure variety seeds for cultivation is expected to meet demand by 2016, he said.
The province will design a logo for the rice speciality, he said.
My Le Commune's Cho Dao area has about 110ha of this rice variety with annual output of about 1,000 tonnes. It is also planted in My Le's other areas.
The trademark Nang Thom Cho Dao rice has been protected under the National Office of Intellectual Property since October 2005.
In April this year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to Nang Thom Cho Dao rice. The certificate is valid for 10 years. — VNS