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Delta farmers hope for hybrid rice gain

Update: March, 07/2015 - 08:59
HCM CITY (VNS)  — Farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta who are set to harvest F1 hybrid rice seeds and a rice crop grown using the seeds this winter-spring hope to have very good yields.

In Can Tho city's Co Do District, farmers expect the yield to be four tonnes of seeds per hectare, higher than before.

Nguyen Van O, who is growing F1 hybrid-rice seeds on 1.5ha in Co Do, said, "I have grown hybrid rice seeds for 14 crops.

"Thanks to the advice of agricultural officials from the Southern Seed Joint Stock Company (SSC), my skills at planting F1 hybrid rice seeds have improved."

Together with the winter-spring crop, farmers in Co Do are growing seeds on 85ha, including varieties like Bac Uu 903 KBL, Nam Uu 603, and HR 182.

Almost half the area is part of a Government agriculture extension programme to develop F1 hybrid seeds to expand the rate of domestically-grown seeds.

The programme, being implemented in 2014-16, has been carried out in the mountainous northern region, Hong (Red) Delta, north-central, south-central and Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) regions, and the Mekong Delta.

For it, the SSC has chosen Can Tho city and Hau Giang, Dak Lak, and Quang Nam provinces to grow six varieties of F1 hybrid seeds on 240ha.

It buys all the hybrid seeds for farmers.

Pham Van Hanh, a farmer in Co Do District who has grown F1 seeds the last six seasons, said growing hybrid seeds needed a lot of labour and costed around VND30 million (US$1,400) per hectare.

The seeds fetched VND20,000 a kilogramme and farmers could earn a profit of VND50 million ($2,380) per hectare from a crop, he said.

Nguyen Hoang Tuan, deputy general director of the SSC, said the main factor for success was that farmers had been trained to grow these seeds. So the rice plants grew well, had less diseases and yielded many seeds, he said.

Around 300 tonnes of hybrid seeds grown under the programme in winter-spring will be sold at 14 per cent lower than the cost of imported seeds, according to the SSC.

In Viet Nam hybrid rice strains are grown on around 700,000ha a year, or 10 per cent of the total area under the crop.

Domestically produced F1 seeds meet only a third of the demand and the country has to import 11,000-12,000 tonnes every year.

New varieties

Farmer Tran Van Chin, who has planted KC06-1 hybrid rice for the first time in Long An Province's Tan Lap District, said he would harvest his crop next week, and estimates a yield of 10 tonnes per hectare.

The variety grew well and was resistant to rice blast disease, a common disease in the Mekong Delta, he said.

KC06 hybrid rice varieties were created by SSC and include KC06-1, KC06-2, and KC06-3.

Tran Quang Giau, head of the Kien Giang Province Department of Plant Protection, said during winter-spring the weather was cold and there was often fog, creating conducive conditions for rice blast disease.

Non-hybrids required more pesticides to prevent diseases while KC06 varieties did not need pesticides, he said.

Besides, hybrids grew well even in acidic soil and could thus be planted in the Long Xuyen Quadrangle and Ca Mau Peninsula, he said.

Prof Bui Thi Tram, a hybrid-rice scientist, said KC06 varieties were resistant to diseases, salinity, and acidic soil.

They had great potential in the context of the increasing effects of climate change on agriculture, especially in the Mekong Delta, she said. — VNS

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