|Farmers harvest cassava in Son Long Commune, Phu Yen Province. A total of 770,000ha of rice fields will be shifted to other crops, including cassava, from now until 2020. — VNA/VNS Photo The Lap
HCM CITY (VNS) — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has decided to shift 770,000ha of fields that exclusively grow rice to areas that combine aquaculture, rice and other crops from now to 2020.
Under the ministry's plan, 260,000ha of rice fields will be shifted in the 2014-15 period, and 510,000ha from 2016 to 2020.
The conversion is expected to improve cultivation efficiency and increase farmers' incomes, said the ministry.
Under the plan, corn will account for the largest area on converted rice fields, as 236ha of rice will be switched to grow corn by 2020.
Other crops to be planted on converted rice fields include soybeans, sesame, peanuts, vegetables and flowers. Aquaculture development will also be included.
The conversion will be based on market demand and the crops will have higher profits than rice, said the ministry.
The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, the country's rice granary, will have the largest converted rice area – 112,000ha in 2014-15 and 204,000ha in 2016-20.
The delta's rice fields typically plant three rice crops a year.
However, under the plan, some converted fields will plant two rice crops and one cash crop a year, and others will plant one rice crop and two cash crops a year.
Some fields will combine one rice crop and aquaculture each year, and some will cultivate only cash crops year-round.
The ministry's Plant Cultivation Department will be responsible for giving instructions to provinces and cities and will work with departments and agencies to set up policies. — VNS