|An organic rice field in Trà Vinh Province’s Cầu Ngang District. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Hòa|
TRÀ VINH — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Trà Vinh has encouraged farmers to expand environmentally friendly organic rice fields that have improved the quality of rice and soil fertility.
In Cầu Ngang, more than 100 farmers in Cầu Ngang’s Mỹ Hòa, Kim Hòa, Vinh Kim and Hiệp Hòa communes signed a contract in 2017 with a company to grow organic rice on a total area of 82ha.
The company provided farmers with techniques such as sowing, fertilising, disease management and harvest methods. The company also supplied materials, and it guaranteed outlets for the farmers.
In the first organic rice crop, the farmers earned a profit of VNĐ30 million (US$1,300) per hectare per crop, up VNĐ6 million ($260) compared to normal farming methods.
Organic rice fields use less fertiliser and do not use chemicals. Farmers can also breed aquatic species in ditches in the rice fields to earn additional income, or rotate rice and aquatic species on the same fields.
Thạch Mara, who has planted organic rice in Hiệp Hòa Commune since 2017, said rice grown under organic standards develops well and adapts to climate change.
In his first crop, his 0.4ha rice field had a yield of 6 tonnes per ha, up one tonne compared to traditional farming methods. He expanded the organic rice area to 0.7ha this year.
Trần Hồng Nghiệp, an agricultural official in Hiệp Hòa, said to encourage farmers to grow organic rice, the commune guarantees outlets for farmers and link them with others who produce organic rice.
The commune’s organic rice co-operative group has called on farmers to join the group which can easily link up with companies and access government support policies.
The group now has 49 members who grow a total of 52ha of organic rice.
Its members who rotate organic rice cultivation and black tiger shrimp or giant river prawn breeding on their rice fields earn a profit of VNĐ50 - 60 million ($2,200 - 2,600) per ha for each shrimp crop.
Nguyễn Ngọc Hài, deputy director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that farmers, companies and the State have developed linkages under the organic model, which has improved the value and quality of the province’s rice.
Besides the health benefits of organic food, organic farming improves soil fertility and protects aquatic resources.
Trà Vinh grows more than 200,000ha of rice each year, but has only a few hundred ha of rice planted under organic standards.
The coastal province plans to increase its organic rice area to 1,000ha by the end of this year and to 2,500ha by 2030, according to the department. — VNS