Rice harvesting in Kiên Giang Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Hải Triều
MEKONG DELTA — In spite of challenges brought by saline intrusion and COVID-19, rice cultivation in the Mekong Delta localities must ensure domestic supply and take opportunities for export, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Lê Quốc Doanh on Friday.
At an online conference to review the region’s rice growing in the winter-spring crop, the deputy minister highlighted the determination of the agricultural sector not to suffer from losses in the coming summer-autumn and autumn-winter crops.
During the 2019-20 winter-spring rice season, the Mekong Delta harvested 11.3 million tonnes of rice in conditions of severe drought and saline intrusion.
The positive outcome was achieved thanks to weather predictions by the agricultural ministry, which led to the order of early cultivation in October and November.
The ministry also asked farmers to prioritise quality rice for export and types of rice which can be harvested in the short term.
Thanks to the plans, farmers could harvest rice early, helping rescue more than 200,000 ha of rice from severe drought.
Mai Anh Nhịn, vice chairman of People’s Committee of Kiên Giang Province, proposed the Government reconsider the suspension of rice exports due to COVID-19 because it will affect rice production in the region. The rice price has decreased by VNĐ300-500 per kg after the suspension.
If the rice price remains too low, farmers will not continue with the autumn-winter season by the end of the year, he said.
Deputy Minister Doanh said the sector must stick to the target of ensuring food security for domestic demand and export in the coming seasons and foresee risks posed by saline intrusion, epidemics and natural disasters.
He said the serious drought and saline intrusion are predicted to continue in the summer-autumn season. Farmers who are not affected by the intrusion must start to grow their plants early. So far, 400,000 ha of rice in the summer-autumn season has been cultivated in the region.
Farmers in the coastal areas suffering from saline intrusion should not hastily grow plants now, but wait until the salt level falls, he said.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the southern region plans to grow 1.6 million ha of rice in the summer-autumn season.
The Mekong Delta region will grow 750,000 ha of rice in the autumn-winter season this year. — VNS