Tiền Giang Province to grow other crops in unproductive rice fields

June 08, 2023 - 07:16
The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tiền Giang plans to turn 4,800ha of unproductive rice fields into other crops or breeding animals to increase farmers’ income in 2023-25.
Pineapple growing fields in Thạnh Mỹ Commune in Tiền Giang Province’s Tân Phước District. The cultivation of the fruit offers farmers a high profit of VNĐ100 million ($4,300) per hectare a crop. – VNA/VNS Photo Minh Trí

TIỀN GIANG – The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tiền Giang plans to turn 4,800ha of unproductive rice fields into other crops or breeding animals to increase farmers’ income in the 2023-25 period.

Nguyễn Văn Mẫn, director of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the rice fields are located mostly in Châu Thành, Tân Phước, Cai Lậy and Cái Bè districts and Cai Lậy Town.

The localities are often affected by flooding and climate change, while the mono-cultivation of rice has low efficiency and provides unstable income for farmers, he said.

In 2020-22, farmers in the province converted nearly 3,000ha of unproductive rice fields into growing vegetables, fruits or breeding aquatic species, 19 per cent above the province’s target set for the period.

The conversion has high socio-economic efficiency, helping farmers to earn higher profits and stabilise their lives, according to the department.

The profit of growing specialty fruits or vegetables is four to 12 times higher than rice, and the breeding of aquatic species and animals is two to three times higher.

The cultivation of other crops helps save more irrigation water than growing rice.

Hà Văn Lợi in Cai Lậy District’s Mỹ Thành Nam Commune has converted his 2,500sq.m rice field into breeding ornamental fish because the field is unfertile.

He now sells about 500 ornamental fish a day and earns an income of VNĐ1 million (US$43) a day.

After deducting all production cost, he earns a profit of more than VNĐ300 million ($12,900) a year, up nearly 10 times against growing high quality rice, he said.

In Gò Công Đông District, Kiểng Phước Commune borders the sea and its rice fields face a shortage of fresh water in the dry season and have low yield. Under the encouragement of local authorities, many rice farmers have switched to growing other crops.

Trần Văn Hảo in the commune has turned his 5,500sq.m rice field into a dragon fruit orchard for five years and now has two to three harvests of the fruit a year.

“Growing dragon fruit requires more tending, higher farming skills and more production costs than growing rice but the profit of growing the fruit is eight to 10 times higher than growing rice,” he said.

In the last harvest he earned a profit of more than VNĐ75 million ($3,200), he said.

To assist farmers to effectively turn unproductive rice fields into growing other crops, the province has spent VNĐ479 billion ($20.6 million) to build power infrastructure, repair and upgrade 25 irrigation projects, and dredge irrigation canals to increase their storing capacity.

The province will continue investing in infrastructure facilities such as roads, irrigation works in rice fields and power supply systems to facilitate the conversion of unproductive rice fields into other crop growing areas, according to the department.

The department, in co-operation with localities and relevant agencies, will assist farmers to apply Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP) and develop co-operatives and linkages among stakeholders in producing and consuming agricultural products.

The province, which is the country’s largest fruit producer, will develop more concentrated specialty fruit growing areas and vegetable growing areas in coastal districts.

It will expand effective farming models to help farmers have sustainable incomes and produce high quality products to meet the requirements of domestic and export markets.

It will solicit investment in manufacturing agricultural products to increase their added value. – VNS