|The shift from rice to corn growing in the country’s northern mountains has proved successful, officials said at an agricultural conference in Sơn La Province this week. — Photo khuyennongvn.gov.vn|
SƠN LA — The shift from rice to corn growing in the country’s northern mountains has proved successful, officials said at an agricultural conference in Sơn La Province this week.
The conference was held to review a project initiated in January 2014 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to shift from rice to corn cultivation in areas with one crop a year and those facing difficulties in irrigation.
Director of the Center for Technology Transfer and Agricultural Promotion, Lê Quốc Thanh, said that economic efficiency in growing corn is 20 to 30 percent higher than rice in the experimental areas.
The figures were calculated from 20 pilot programmes which the center carried out over the past two and a half years in eight northern mountainous provinces, covering 600 hectares.
The pilot programmes supported farmers with new corn varieties and advanced technology with the goal of reducing labour costs and increasing productivity.
“Corn cultivation brought in between VNĐ5 to 10 million per hectare more than rice,” Thanh said.
“The application of advanced ploughing machines in Hà Giang and Quảng Ninh provinces reduced labour costs by 2.5 to 3 million VNĐ per hectare, while a system of drying, cleaning and preserving in Hà Giang helped reduce produce loss by 6.5 percent after harvesting”, he said.
Hà Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s deputy director Phạm Thị Hà praised the success of the project, saying that it managed to “considerably increase” farmers’ income and was highly appreciated by the farmers in her province.
She said that Hà Giang had carried out the project in the low lands.
“I hope Hà Giang will receive more support to expand corn cultivation in higher areas in the future,” she said.
Hà Văn Trường, a corn-grower from Mai Sơn District in Sơn La Province, said others in his village, who preferred growing rice to corn, have decided to shift to corn for the next crop after his success.
Trường allocated 1,000 square metres of land to grow genetically modified corn, one of the varieties of corn used in this project, for the spring-summer crop this year.
“Growing corn requires less water and fertilizer than rice,” he said.
“Genetically modified corn also has many strong points, particularly its resistance to borers.”
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development aims to turn 668,000 hectares of rice-growing land into corn-growing land in northern mountainous provinces within five years, and expects this to be completed by 2020.
The government decided earlier this year to provide farmers shifting from rice growing to corn with up to VNĐ 3 million per hectare to buy seed. — VNS