|Harvesting the summer – autumn rice in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Bạc Liêu. – VNA/VNS Photo Chanh Đa|
HCM CITY – Authorities in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta are helping farmers harvest their summer – autumn rice crop amid the travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The country’s rice granary is entering its peak harvest season but farmers are struggling to find workers and harvesters because of the restrictions on the movement of people.
Trần Hữu Hiệp, who has a 6,000sq.m field in Bến Tre Province’s Giồng Trôm District, said his crop has ripened but he could not hire workers to harvest it due to the travel restrictions.
The rice could fall off the plants, he said.
Trương Thế Dũng, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee of the district’s Bình Thành Commune, said local authorities are calling on harvester owners to help farmers harvest and on youth union and the commune Farmers Association members.
The latter’s members are allowed to travel to help harvest rice if they meet COVID-19 prevention regulations and furnish a negative test result at checkpoints.
They have also asked neighbouring communes for harvesters, but it is the peak harvest season and so not many are available, Dũng said.
Huỳnh Thanh Đức, deputy director of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said more than 10,300ha of summer-autumn rice have been sowed, mostly in Giồng Trôm and Ba Tri districts.
To help farmers harvest in time, his department has called on localities to work together to find workers and harvesters, he said.
Since both work in many localities, authorities should co-operate closely for this while still following pandemic regulations such as workers having to produce a negative test results and hailing from COVID-free areas.
In Bạc Liêu, the People’s Committee late last month called on neighbouring provinces of Hậu Giang and Sóc Trăng to ensure workers and harvesters could travel to the province to areas that are free of COVID-19.
The two currently have travel restrictions to Bạc Liêu.
Bạc Liêu’s rice harvesters can only meet 50 – 60 per cent of demand, according to the People’s Committee.
Farmers have grown 59,000ha of rice, according to the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
In Cà Mau, provincial authorities are reviewing the demand for harvesters and rice dryers to find enough of them.
Farmers are told to harvest their rice when it is 85 – 90 per cent ripe.
They had harvested only 2,500ha of the 35,300ha they planted as of the middle of August, according to the province Plant Protection and Cultivation Sub-department.
They are expected to complete the work by the end of September.
Delta provinces are also promoting farmers and co-operatives’ links with rice companies to ensure they can sell their summer – autumn rice crop.
They have planted some 1.51 million hectares and are expected to harvest 8.6 million tonnes, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Plant Cultivation Department. – VNS