HCM CITY (VNS)— Farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta should take precautions to protect against rice diseases on the winter-spring rice crop, especially rice blast diseases, said an official.
Ho Van Chien, director of the Southern Plant Protection Centre, said the large difference between day and night temperatures and inclement fog in the morning over the past days have caused unfavourable conditions for the growth of rice that may cause the development of rice diseases.
The delta has had more than 21,000ha of rice infected by blast diseases, 1,000ha infected by bacterial leaf blight and more than 40,000ha infected with brown plant hoppers, he said.
The centre warned farmers not to use mixed pesticides to spray disease affected rice fields but to use specific pesticide aimed at targeting specific kinds of pests and diseases to achieve best results.
Farmers should strictly follow integrated pest management programmes when tending to their rice fields and fertilise the rice fields properly.
For this winter-spring rice crop, farmers in the delta, the country's largest rice granary, have planted about 1.6 million hectares, according to the Plant Cultivation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Several provinces in the Delta, including Dong Thap, Vinh Long and Soc Trang provinces, and Can Tho City planted the winter-spring crop early thanks to a closed-dyke system that ensures water supply for the crop.
After Tet (Lunar New Year) festival, which fell on January 31, many farmers began harvesting their rice fields.
Lam Tan Dat, who harvested 4 ha of rice variety PC10 with a yield of 7 tonnes per hectare in My Tu District's Phu My Commune in Soc Trang Province, said: "The yield was higher than the last crop."
Traders also offered a higher price than the last crop, he said.
Many farmers in Soc Trang said they earned a profit of VND25-30 million (US$1,200- 1,400) per ha.
As of last Saturday, farmers have harvested about 200,000ha of the winter-spring rice crop with a total output of 1.22 million tonnes, according to the Plant Cultivation Department.
The delta will enter the peak harvest of the winter-spring rice crop in March. The winter-spring rice crop is the main rice crop and has a higher yield than the summer-autumn and autumn-winter rice crops.
The harvest of the winter-spring rice crop is not affected by rains like other rice crops, so it is easy for farmers to use machines to harvest their rice.
The delta plans to increase the rate of mechanisation in the harvesting and drying stages to 100 per cent in the winter-spring rice crop by 2020 and 80 per cent in the summer-autumn and autumn-winter rice crops, according to the Southwest Region Steering Committee.
To meet the target, the delta will have an additional 11,000-15,000 harvest and drying machines, taking the number of these machines to 20,000-25,000 by 2020.
The delta will also build 70 modern rice drying facilities, each with a capacity of 10-30 tonnes an hour.
Can Tho and the surrounding delta's provinces will supply farmers with more rice varieties that have high yield and quality and low seed dropping rate during harvest.
The delta will encourage investors to invest in producing harvest and drying machines that are suitable for use by farmers in the delta's fields.
The delta will also create conditions for more farmers to borrow loans to aid ownership of harvest and drying machines.
The delta's mechanisation now serves about 1 million ha of rice in the winter-spring crop, according to the steering committee.
In the summer-autumn and autumn-winter crops, the operation of machines in rice fields is limited because the harvest falls during the rainy season and rice fields are often submerged in water.
The usage rate of machines in these two crops is about 50 per cent lower than in the winter-spring crop.
The rate of post-harvest loss of the two crops is 10-12 per cent higher than that of the winter-spring crop. —VNS