SÓC TRĂNG – More farmers in Sóc Trăng Province's Kế Sách District have begun using organic fertiliser and bio-products under the encouragement of local authorities.
The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta district, the province's largest fruit producer, has more than 16,130ha of fruit, according to its Agriculture Extension Centre. Most have high value such as king orange, grapefruit, mango, milk apple, durian, mangosteen and longan.
In the past, farmers used chemical fertilisers and pesticides to grow the fruit, but the practices had adverse impacts on the quality of fruit, soil and the environment.
The centre has instructed farmers to use organic fertiliser and bio-products, choose disease-free fruit seedlings, and reduce the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
Trịnh Ngọc Thảo, who began growing 1ha of sweet mandarin in Nhơn Mỹ Commune in 2015, said that sweet mandarin offered higher profits than many fruit varieties, but it requires more tending than other fruits.
Sweet mandarin trees with young leaves, for example, are often attacked by worms, he said.
Under the instruction of the centre, he uses organic fertiliser and bio-products for the orchard and grows several kinds of wild vegetables under mandarin trees to keep the soil moist. The use of bio-products has improved the health of the trees.
Last year he harvested 12 tonnes of sweet mandarin and earned a profit of VNĐ200 million (US$8,580), he said.
Many farmers in the district have shifted from rice or other crops to fruit in recent years.
Trần Văn Thâu in Ba Tri Commune turned his 1ha rice field to king orange four years ago. At first, he used chemicals and pesticides for his orchard and then switched this year to organic fertiliser, reducing his fertiliser costs by 40 per cent.
His orchard produced more fruit, and the soil fertility improved.
Farmers in the district are also taking part in co-operatives and growing fruit under Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) standards.
The Đại Đoàn Kết Co-operative, for instance, grows king orange under VietGAP standards in Ba Tri Commune. The co-operative’s king oranges are sold at nearly double the market price.
The Trinh Phú Agriculture Co-operative in Trinh Phú Commune plants milk apples which have been exported to the US.
Nguyễn Thành Phước, head of the province’s Plant Protection and Cultivation Sub-department, said farmers who grew rice and other crops have switched to fruit on a total of 400ha. Most of the fruit areas are in Kế Sách and Cù Lao Dung districts.
The province’s People’s Committee has preferential policies like soft loans to help farmers develop fruit areas. – VNS