Agricultural by-products improve farmers’ income, benefit environment

Update: September, 29/2018 - 09:00
A farmer feed his goats young soybean peel, an agricultural by-product, in An Giang Province’s Châu Thành District. – VNA/VNS Photo Công Mạo
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY – The use of agricultural by-products for feeding livestock and as substrate for other crops has helped farmers around the country earn extra incomes while also protecting the environment.

The by-products include rice straw and stubble, rice bran, corn and banana stems, and animal and poultry waste.

In the Mekong Delta city of Cần Thơ, many farmers use by-products to feed animals or plant straw mushroom and other crops. 

Nguyễn Văn Trường, a farmer in Cần Thơ’s Bình Thủy District, said many rice farmers there earn a few million đồng by using straw to grow mushrooms after each crop.

Farmers who do not grow mushroom sell their straw to others.

In the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Đắk Lắk, farmers feed their animals and poultry crop by-products.

Phạm Bạo of Đắk Lắk’s Ea Súp District uses straw, rice bran and other by-products to feed his 130 oxen and cows.

“Thanks to the agricultural by-products, my family can save a lot of money on animal feed,” he said.

Not throwing away crop by-products like farmers did in the past and using them for other purposes is also helping protect the environment by reducing waste and the use of inorganic substances.

But their use in this manner is still modest considering the quantity available on a regular basis, according to experts.

The by-products are mostly used raw and not processed, which enables their storage for later use.  

In some places, farmers still have the habit of burning rice straw and stubble after harvesting rice since they have no use for them and cannot find buyers.

An Giang’s ambitious plans

An Giang Province, one of the delta’s largest rice growers, produces around two million tonnes of straw and stubble every year besides 800,000 tonnes of rice husk, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Speaking at a meeting on Wednesday, Võ Thị Thanh Vân, deputy director of the department, said the by-products are used for making animal feed, growing straw mushroom, producing biogas, and making firewood. 

The province People’s Committee has instructed relevant agencies to develop programmes and models for using by-products to increase farmers’ incomes, protect the environment and make agriculture sustainable.

It plans to use 50 per cent of rice husk for producing electricity or making firewood by 2030.

Now 20 per cent is used to generate electricity or make firewood while the rest is thrown away or burnt. 

Hà Thúy Hạnh, deputy director of the National Agriculture Extension Centre, said the country has 5.65 million oxen and cows, 2.49 million buffaloes and four million goats and sheep.

If agricultural by-products are used efficiently, the country can increase these low numbers and reduce the import of animal feed, she said.

Demand for animal feed topped nine million tonnes in the fist six months of the year, according to the centre. – VNS