|Farmers harvest jujube fruits in an orchard which used to be a low-yield rice paddy in Ninh Thuận Province’s Ninh Phước District. — VNA/VNS Photo Công Thử
NINH THUẬN — The south-central province of Ninh Thuận, which has the lowest amount of rainfall in the country, plans to switch from growing rice and certain other crops on nearly 1,200ha to drought-resistant crops and trees this year.
The switch will be made on 530ha during the upcoming winter-spring crop and on the rest in the summer-autumn crop and the mùa crop in the rainy season.
Phan Quang Thựu, deputy director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said there are often prolonged droughts and lack of water for irrigation, animal husbandry and household use.
The People’s Committee has announced support for farmers with lands with low yields in their switch to drought-resistant crops.
The department has assigned its Agriculture Extension Centre to teach farmers advanced farming techniques and establish and expand farming models that are appropriate for the province’s dry conditions.
The models include using efficient irrigation, intercropping short-term crops with perennial trees and applying Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) for growing the province’s speciality agricultural products like grape and jujube.
Director of the centre Nguyễn Tin said the centre and other relevant agencies are reviewing and redefining the crops and their scale in water-deficient areas in Thuận Bắc, Ninh Phước, Thuận Nam and Ninh Hải districts.
Last year, the province switched to drought-resistant crops on more than 1,360ha of lands, according to the department.
The drought-resistant crops, including grape, jujube, asparagus and other long-gestation fruits fetch farmers high incomes.
Asparagus, for instance, has an average yield of 12 tonnes per hectare annually and provides farmers with an income of VNĐ150 million (US$6,470) a year, five times that of rice.
Asparagus plants can normally be harvested six months after planting.
Đỗ Thanh Toàn, who now grows jackfruit on his 4ha of rice field in Thuận Nam District’s Nhị Hà Commune, said the fruit tolerates dry, hot weather, requires little care and yields a high income.
He earns VNĐ300 million ($12,960) per hectare annually, he said.
The switch from rice to drought-resistant crops has helped save irrigation water by 25-30 per cent, according to the department.
Besides switching to drought-resistant crops, the province has also established large-scale fields by pooling lands for various crops to improve yields and incomes for farmers.
There are 14 such fields with a combined area of 1,324ha growing rice, corn, grape and asparagus and they have tied up with companies to sell their produce.
Participating farmers said they earn 1.5 times the income they used to get from their individual fields.
The province plans to establish 12 more large-scale fields with an area of 1,047ha and enlarge the 14 existing ones to 1,825ha this year. — VNS