|Farmer Trần Quang Hưng in Bình Phước Province’s Bù Gia Mập District harvests this year’s cashew crop. — VNA/VNS Photo|
BÌNH PHƯỚC — The south-eastern province of Bình Phước plans to intercrop and breed livestock in 10,000ha of cashew orchards by 2025 to increase farmers’ incomes.
Bù Đăng District will account for 8,000ha, Bù Gia Mập for 1,000ha and the remaining localities for 1,000ha, according to the province People’s Committee’s plan of intercropping other plants and breeding animals.
The plan targets growing coffee, cacao or medicinal plants, intercropping one, two or more varieties of plants, and raising chickens, ducks or goats.
Besides, it aims to increase the intercropping area to 15,000ha by 2030.
In recent years this model has offered farmers higher incomes than monoculture crops, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
It also helps avoid the risks posed by price volatility and diseases.
But the model has yet to become widespread because growing other crops needs large volumes of water for irrigation while animal breeding has to meet disease safety criteria, it said.
The country’s largest cashew producing province has about 8,000ha of intercropped farms with mostly coffee, cacao, pepper, and fruits grown on them or buffalo, cows and goats raised.
Most farmers who grow cacao in their cashew orchards get average annual yields of 1.3-1.5 tonnes of cacao and 2.5-3 tonnes of cashew per hectare, which fetch incomes of VNĐ90-120 million (US$3,800-5,100).
Intercropping three crops fetches VNĐ143 million ($6,000).
In contrast, growing only cashew fetches only VNĐ40 million ($1,700).
To increase cashew intercropping, the province will step up advocacy, including through the media, to encourage farmers to participate.
It will organise training courses for farmers and monthly meetings for them to compare notes.
After 15 years of cashew zoning plans, both the area under the nut and yields have increased, according to the province People’s Committee.
Now there is a total of 152,000ha, or more than 50 per cent of the country’s total.
The average yield was 0.73 tonnes in 2017 and it doubled by 2021.
Cashew is one of the province’s key crops and is grown on more than 24 per cent of its total farmlands.
Linkages between farmers and companies remain limited to some concentrated growing areas.
Profits from cashew are lower than from crops like coffee, pepper, cacao, and fruits.
The province has more than 71,600 cashew farmers and 1,400 processors who sell domestically and export, and employ 50,000 agricultural labourers.
The nut accounts for a third of the province’s export income of more than $1.5 billion a year. — VNS