Kiên Giang farmers get big profits by intercropping plants

July 05, 2024 - 10:33
Farmers in Kiên Giang Province have been earning high incomes from intercropping pineapple, coconut and betel palm in the same orchard, a model that has proven well adapted to climate change.
An orchard with pineapple, coconut and betel palm intercropped in Kiên Giang Province’s Châu Thành District. — VNA/VNS Photo Văn Sĩ

KIÊN GIANG — Farmers in the Mekong Delta province of Kiên Giang have been earning high incomes from intercropping pineapple, coconut and betel palm in the same orchard, a model that has proven well adapted to climate change.

The practice is prevalent mostly in Châu Thành District’s Bình An Commune since its has brackish water and alum-affected soil in its coastal areas, suitable for growing these plants.

Dư Văn Thái was one of the first farmers to switch to this model from rice after the latter crop was affected by drought and saltwater intrusion up rivers and harvests were often poor in the dry season.

He has 5,000 pineapple, 500 coconut and 2,000 betel palm trees in his 3ha orchard, and has been earning VNĐ900 million-VNĐ1 billion (US$35,000-39,000) a year from them for the past six years, he said.

“My family gets an average profit of VNĐ600 million ($23,500) a year.”

To reduce labour and production costs, he has installed an automatic irrigation system and been making organic fertilisers for the plants since 2020, he said.

According to local farmers, the profits are three to four times as much as those from rice.

Châu Thành has 2,000ha under pineapple, with the fruit being one of its key produce.

It has encouraged farmers to switch to the fruit on unproductive rice fields and orchards in zoned areas, especially to the speciality Tắc Cậu pineapple, and adopt Vietnamese and global good agricultural practices.

Under a Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development plan to develop the country’s major fruits for export until 2030, Kiên Giang is designated a major pineapple and banana producing province.

The southern province has grown pineapples for nearly 100 years and now has more than 7,000ha under them.

Lê Hữu Toàn, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the model is sustainable and would be expanded to more areas conducive to it.

His agency would train farmers in farming techniques, upgrade irrigation works and inform farmers about disease situations and preventive measures, he said.

It is urging businesses to link up with farmers to promote agricultural products at home and abroad to increase their value, he added.

It is now the pineapple harvest season and farmers are getting high prices.

Vương Văn Lực, who intercrops pineapple, coconut and betel palm on a one-hectare orchard in Bình An Commune, said the demand for pineapple is high this year.

Traders buy pineapple (fruits weighing about one kilogramme each) at the farm gate for VNĐ13,000, VNĐ5,000-6,000 higher than a year ago, he said.

“Pineapple farmers … are very happy.”

The province faced prolonged hot weather during the dry season before June but its saltwater prevention sluices and embankments worked effectively and supplied sufficient water for agriculture.

More and more farmers have installed automatic irrigation systems to save water. — VNS