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Central region eyes dry-resistant crops

Update: April, 25/2013 - 10:06

HCM CITY (VNS)— With climate change having an increasing impact, the central region needs to switch to less water-intensive crops, agricultural experts have said.

The region is mountainous with steep slopes and not many flat areas, meaning rains cause rivers to flow strongly and drain quickly and drought comes immediately if there are no rains.

It has also been the worst hit by climate change.

Hoang Minh Tam, head of the Agricultural Science Institute for the Southern Coastal Central Region, said to deal with climate change, farmers need to switch from rice to short-term crops suitable for their area.

The land is not very fertile but is suitable for short-term crops and farmers could earn higher incomes, he said.

The switch from water-intensive to drought-resistant crops should be considered a priority by local authorities, he said.

The south-central provinces have begun the task and achieved some progress though they have not fully exploited their potential, he said.

Quang Nam and Binh Dinh provinces, for instance, now lead the central region in groundnut cultivation with a total area of 10,000ha under the crop.

But the figure is insignificant compared to their potential, he said.

Nguyen Van Lam, director of the Binh Dinh Province Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Centre, said the province has great potential for switching from rice to other crops like groundnut and sesame.

"Farmers who grow groundnut and sesame can earn five times higher than those who grow rice," he said.

This year the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) region has started growing hybrid corn on tens of thousands of hectares that used to be under rice and cash crops, according to the Tay Nguyen Region Steering Committee.

Nearly 1.3 million tonnes of corn per year are grown on nearly 242,000ha.

Dak Lak Province leads the region in corn with 117,000ha under the crop.

Authorities in the region have encouraged ethnic minority farmers to convert a lot of rice, cassava, and coffee fields into corn-growing areas.

Along with corn, many ethnic farmers also grow bean in inter-crop manner.

The region has also enabled ethnic farmers to borrow on easy terms and is providing them with corn seeds and farming techniques for free.

Thanks to all this, hundreds of ethnic E De farmers in Dak Lak Province earn dozens of millions of dong per corn crop, local officials said. —VNS

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