A farmer uses an efficient irrigation system for her pepper orchard in Đắk Lắk Province. – VNA/VNS Photo Tuấn Anh
ĐẮK LẮK – The Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Đắk Lắk is encouraging more farmers to apply efficient irrigation technologies on industrial trees to save irrigation water and reduce production costs.
Key industrial trees such as pepper, rubber and coffee play a crucial role in agriculture in the province, the country’s largest producer of coffee.
In the dry season, the use of drip and spray irrigation systems for industrial trees can save water, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The province has more than 7,000ha of crops that use efficient irrigation facilities, it said.
Hoàng Đức Khóa of Cư Kuin District’s Ea Hu Commune invested VNĐ60 million (US$2,560) to install a drip irrigation system on his 1ha pepper orchard in 2017.
Since then, he has saved irrigation water and labour costs for watering pepper plants, and has ensured sufficient water for growth in every stage.
With such technologies, farmers can save 20 per cent of production costs and increase yields by 10 – 15 per cent compared to traditional irrigation, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Irrigation Department.
However, the high investment cost for efficient irrigation systems is an obstacle for farmers.
Phạm Quốc Hạo, director of the Thiện Bản General Business Agriculture Co-operative in Buôn Hồ Town, said: “The investment costs for efficient irrigation systems are high, so it’s not easy for farmers.”
The co-operative has 51 members who have a total 120ha of orchards, including coffee orchards. Only one member of the co-operative uses the advanced irrigation technology, while four other members are preparing to invest in efficient irrigation systems.
The province should develop support policies such as soft loans for farmers to use these irrigation systems, he said.
Mai Trọng Dũng, deputy director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said many farmers were still unaware of the technology and the need to save irrigation water.
The cost is about VNĐ 50 – 60 million ($2,140 - 2,560) per ha for installing the system, according to Dũng.
In addition, many orchards have not accessed the power network so farmers lack power to operate the system.
The province is encouraging farmers to use the technologies suited to each type of crop, soil and water resources. It will also review and zone irrigation works to supply water to the advanced irrigation systems.
The province plans to have efficient irrigation systems used on 10,000ha of crops, mostly coffee, pepper, fruits and vegetables, by next year.
Đắk Lắk has 204,808ha of coffee, including 187,279ha bearing fruit.
Most farmers who grow industrial trees in the province use traditional methods of watering at the foot of trees. This method requires low investment costs but uses a lot of water. – VNS