|In 1992-2015, Soc Trang spent more than VND9 billion (US$430,000) on 20 programmes for creating and restoring speciality rice varieties. — File Photo
HCM CITY (VNS) — The cultivation of fragrant rice in the Cuu Long (Mekong) province of Soc Trang has shown good results, according to experts.
Soc Trang, the main fragrant-rice-growing in the delta, has around 148,000ha under rice, with 44 per cent of it earmarked for speciality varieties, mostly of the fragrant kind.
In 1992-2015, Soc Trang spent more than VND9 billion (US$430,000) on 20 programmes for creating and restoring speciality rice varieties.
One of them, to create the ST fragrant rice strain, has ended with many varieties ranging from ST 1 to ST 25.
Many of them are exported at high prices.
ST 5, for instance, has fetched over US$600 a tonne for the past seven years.
Speaking at a seminar held in the province on May 15, Ho Quang Cua, deputy chairman of the Soc Trang Union of Science and Technology Associations and also one of the local scientists who researched and created the ST varieties, said many farmers growing fragrant rice made profits of 50 -70 per cent.
"This is the important factor for the province to develop fragrant rice."
Cua and his research group are planning to popularise ST varieties from 20 to 25, red ST, and purple ST so that more of them are grown for export. The export prices of these are as high as $800 a tonne.
Many co-operatives in the province have tied up with companies to ensure there are outlets for their fragrant rice.
The Hoa Loi Rice – Shrimp Co-operative in My Xuyen District is one such.
Mai Van Chanh, its chairman, said farmers who grew rice on a small scale often did not know the techniques and have supporting services.
Since 2009 Can Tho city–based Gentraco Feed Joint Stock Company has been contracted with the co-operative to buy rice from its members.
Chanh said it paid 20 – 25 per cent higher than the market price.
"The co-operative's farmers earn an average of VND20 million ($950) per hectare more than other farmers."
Vo Tong Xuan, rector of the Southern Can Tho University, hailing Soc Trang's scientists for creating the ST variety, said the province should solicit investment in rice drying, husking, polishing, and packaging facilities.
Seminar participants said the profits from speciality rice strains are very high, adding if the grain was grown using a proper model like the large-scale rice fields and there was co-operation between farmers, scientists, companies, and authorities, farmers could enjoy up to 84 per cent of the profit made through the chain until the rice reaches the consumer.
Le Thanh Tri, deputy chairman of the Soc Trang People's Committee, said to further develop speciality rice farming, the province needed to dissuade individual and small farming and strengthen co-operation between farmers, scientists, companies, and the Government.
The province should provide farmers with advanced technologies and create more high-quality rice strains suitable for harsh weather conditions, he added. —VNS