|The northern province of Thai Binh will increase the cultivation area of baby potatoes. -- Photo tienphong.vn
THAI BINH (VNS) — The northern province of Thai Binh will trademark its baby potatoes and expand its cultivation to 10,000 hectares by 2020.
Officials said at a recent workshop held in the province that the newly naturalised and introduced cash crop has greatly benefited farmers.
Bui Quang Thuong is one of the farmers who has cashed in on the new crop.
A member of the Trong Quan Agricultural Service Co-operative in Trong Quan Commune, Dong Hung District, Thuong said that the Thai Binh Agricultural Extension Centre had approached the co-operative in 2013 about cultivating the baby potato.
Members were provided with training on how to farm it in winter, after two consecutive rice harvests.
Thuong set aside two sao (720sq.m.) for cultivating the new crop. This proved so successful that he decided to increase the cultivation area to five sao last year.
"Last year, we earned VND70 million (US$3,300) selling the baby potato, which was 50 per cent higher than what we got from the same area for the ordinary one."
Apart from the higher income, the crop has the valuable advantage of being more environmentally-friendly.
Tran Minh Bang, chairman of the co-operative, said the crop requires organic fertiliser and farmers have been trained by agriculture extension officials to recycle rice straw using bio-chemicals.
Phan Huy Thong, director of the National Agricultural Extension Centre, said that at the current selling price of VND9,000-10,000 (42-47 cents) per kg, each mau (3,600 sq.m) can bring in VND100 million ($4,700) per crop. If production costs are deducted, the profit amounts to half the sum, which is still twice as much as two rice harvests combined.
Nguyen Thi Nga, deputy director of the Thai Binh Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the province intended to develop large-sized farms to cultivate baby potatoes as well as irrigation systems to serve them.
The province would provide incentives to private investors for producing baby potato nurseries since most of the seed potatoes being used in cultivation are being imported, she added. — VNS