Farmers in many areas in Ninh Thuận Province’s Thuận Bắc District have had to stop cropping because of a drought. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Thành
NINH THUẬN — The south-central province of Ninh Thuận is restructuring agriculture to adapt to droughts and secure stable incomes for farmers.
Lưu Xuân Vĩnh, chairman of the province People’s Committee, said there had been seven years of drought in the last 10 years.
During the 2019-20 winter-spring rice crop, farming had to be stopped on nearly 8,000ha because of lack of water, he said.
In many places, farmers have had to stop farming for a long time because of drought, he said.
To mitigate the effects of drought, the People’s Committee has ordered localities to identify clearly and zone areas for crops and animal husbandry.
Priority will be given to high-value crops that require less water, the People’s Committee said.
The country’s driest province has 21 dams with a combined capacity of 194 million cubic metres of water, but most lack water shortage in the dry season, leaving many rice-growing areas parched and unable to crop.
The province has prioritised high-value crops like asparagus, green jujube, grape, onion, and garlic, and will grow them instead of rice in low-yield areas using advanced farming techniques to Vietnamese good agricultural practices standards, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Đặng Kim Cương, director of the department, said to sustainably develop agriculture, the province has invested in irrigation infrastructure, boosted the use of advanced techniques and sought to attract investors.
Ninh Thuận is the country’s largest producer of grape, green jujube, garlic, sheep, and goat. Around 70 per cent of the province’s population earns a living from agriculture.
The province plans to develop 12 hi-tech vegetable growing areas on a total of 1,640ha, four hi-tech grape and jujube growing areas on 700ha, two hi-tech cow breeding areas on 150ha and two hi-tech goat and sheep breeding areas on 250ha by the end of this year, and raise 6,000 cows and 17,000 goats and sheep in the latter, according to the department.
The province will develop three hi-tech aquaculture areas.
In the last three years, Ninh Thuận has spent more than VNĐ2.3 trillion (US$98 million) to upgrade 63 irrigation works, increasing the total irrigated area to 53.7 per cent, up 4.1 percentage points from 2015.
Nguyễn Tin, director of the department’s Agriculture Extension Centre, said to adapt to drought the province uses 6,500ha of low-yield rice fields to grow grape, green jujube, grapefruit, asparagus, and aloe vera.
The income from these crops is two or three times higher while they require 50 per cent less water than rice, he said.
Besides switching to other crops on rice fields, Ninh Thuận also plans to switch to two rice crops a year from three to save water.
Phan Văn Thựu, deputy director of the department, said with just two rice crops a year, farmers could grow medium- and long-term varieties that offer high yields of 7 -7.5 tonnes per hectare.
“The time between two crops helps stop the spread of diseases and provides authorities time to repair and upgrade irrigation works.”
This year Ninh Thuận will try growing two rice crops a year on more than 1,000ha in Ninh Phước and Thuận Nam districts. — VNS