|Farmers prepare what used to be a rice field to grow other crops in Trà Vinh Province’s Cầu Kè District. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Hoà|
TRÀ VINH — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Trà Vinh is assisting farmers with growing other crops on a total of 1,550ha of unproductive rice and sugarcane fields or switch to aquaculture or livestock farming.
In the first seven months of this year farmers stopped growing rice and sugarcane on more than 1,200ha and switched instead to growing vegetables or coconut or to aquaculture, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Phạm Minh Truyền, director of the department, said his agency is carrying out the province plan to restructure agriculture and has zoned areas for various crops.
To enable farmers to change crops, the province is implementing a support programme in 2021 – 25 with a budget of VNĐ368 billion (US$16 million).
It has support policies for farmers to adopt good agricultural practices (GAP) standards and offers them subsidies to buy agricultural machinery and equipment.
In recent years it has encouraged farmers to switch to high-value crops.
In Trà Cú District, for instance, farmers have switched to farming vegetables and shrimp on more than 1,300ha of sugarcane farms.
Farmers in the largest sugarcane growing area in the province earned little and even suffered losses because of low prices in recent years.
Many have also switched to intercropping coconut and shrimp in sugarcane fields, earning VNĐ100-150 million ($4,400-6,500) per hectare annually.
Farmers in the province who restructured on the advice of authorities earn VNĐ80-300 million ($3,500-13,100) per hectare per year, two or three times what they earned from rice or sugarcane, according to the department.
Truyền said under its restructuring plan, the province has since 2017 reduced the area under crops and increased the aquaculture area.
The average crop value per hectare now is VNĐ130 million ($5,700) a year, more than 10 per cent higher than in 2016, he said.
Aquaculture fetches VNĐ360 million ($15,700) compared to VNĐ103 million ($4,500), he said.
In 2017-20 farmers started cultivating other crops or switched to aquaculture on more than 10,647ha of unproductive rice fields, according to the department.
The province has 80,000ha under rice, with 70 per cent having high-quality varieties.
Rice, corn, orange, grapefruit, pig, cow, goat, poultry, black tiger shrimp, white-legged shrimp, and mud crabs are the province’s key agricultural products.
To secure outlets for them, it encourages farmers and agricultural co-operatives to sign contracts with companies, and provides them with financial support and teaches them the latest farming techniques. — VNS