|Workers harvest rice in the southern province of Tra Vinh's Cau Ke District. Many farmers will switch their fields from rice to high-value crops. — VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hoang
HCM CITY (VNS)— The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tra Vinh will convert 9,000ha of fields from rice to high-value crops for this year's summer-autumn and autumn-winter crops.
Tran Trung Hien, director of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the area to be converted accounted for only 3 per cent of the province's total rice cultivation.
The decision is part of the Government's plan to restructure the agricultural sector, he said.
In Cau Ke District, many farmers have shifted to another crop on their rice fields, especially in Chau Dien Commune.
Thach Truong, one of the first rice farmers in Chau Dien's Rum Soc Hamlet who switched to red chilli and corn, said he had earned VND50 million (US$2,400) in annual profits from one crop of bird's-eye chillis and one crop of waxy corn on 5,000 square metres of land.
Luu Trong Dien, chairman of the Chau Dien Commune Youth Association, said the conversion of ineffective rice fields into other high-value crop areas would raise farmers' incomes.
The cultivation model of growing bird's-eye chillis and waxy corn on converted rice fields has yielded profits three to four times higher than rice, he said.
The provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is working with district People's Committees to identify ineffective rice fields that should be used for other crops.
It is also teaching farmers how to choose plants like corn, red chilli, peanuts and orange trees for converted rice fields.
Duong Van Dom, head of the Cau Ngang District's Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau, said the district would convert 600 ha of ineffective rice fields on mounded land to other crops in this year's summer-autumn crop.
The district will also develop large-scale fields to grow crops, he said.
Under the Government's plan to restructure the agriculture sector, the Government has decided to finance VND2 million ($95) per hectare for farmers who convert ineffective rice fields to other crops.
Dong Van Lam, chairman of the provincial People's Committee, has told departments and agencies to raise local farmers' awareness about the Government's policy to convert ineffective rice fields into other crop cultivation areas.
However, if there is a need to ensure the country's food security, farmers will have to grow rice on these areas again. —VNS