Growing asparagus in Ninh Thuận Province’s Ninh Phước District. — VNA/VNS Photo Công Thử
NINH THUẬN – The south-central province of Ninh Thuận is encouraging farmers in drought-prone areas to grow asparagus to improve their incomes.
Asparagus is one of the province’s 12 specifically identified agricultural products since it is suitable for growing in Ninh Thuận, which has the least rainfall in the country and frequent droughts and sandy soil in many areas.
The province has zoned sandy soil areas in Ninh Phước, Ninh Hải and Thuận Bắc districts and Phan Rang - Tháp Chàm City as asparagus-growing areas, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Many farmers have switched to asparagus in recent years because it has steady demand and provides a stable income.
Từ Văn Hai, a member of the Tuấn Tú Co-operative in Ninh Phước’s An Hải Commune that specialises in growing asparagus, has switched from vegetables to asparagus.
“After joining the co-operative to grow asparagus, my family has a stable income,” he said.
Asparagus plants can be harvested for their edible young stems within eight months and farmers can harvest them for up to eight years.
According to Hùng Ky, director of the co-operative, asparagus farmers earn VNĐ200 million (US$8,620) per hectare per year.
The lives of farmers in An Hải Commune have improved significantly in the last three years due to the plant.
The co-operative has 63 members who grow 35ha of asparagus under the large-field model, in which they use common farming methods and schedules.
The co-operative plans to expand its asparagus cultivation to 45ha and achieve an output of 65 tonnes this year.
Many farmers have turned their unproductive rice fields and those without guaranteed irrigation into asparagus farms.
Nguyễn Châu Cảnh, head of the Thuận Bắc District Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said rice farmers in the district switched to other crops on more than 70ha, including 13ha of asparagus, in the 2019 - 20 winter – spring crop because of a drought and lack of irrigation.
The asparagus crop had been harvested and the income was thrice that of rice, he said.
The province has encouraged localities to stop growing rice on low-yield lands and grow other crops that require less water and have a high value like asparagus.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has instructed its Agriculture Extension Centre to develop asparagus growing models and transfer farming techniques to farmers.
The province, which has more than 500ha under asparagus, offers support to companies and co-operatives that invest in cultivation and processing of the plant.
Co-operatives are provided financial support to buy seedlings, install efficient irrigation systems, establish large asparagus fields, and grow their asparagus to Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP) standards.
The province’s two key asparagus growing areas are An Hải Commune in Ninh Phước District and Văn Hải Ward in Phan Rang – Tháp Chàm City.
Phan Quang Thựu, deputy director of the department, said the province had invested more than VNĐ120 billion ($5.2 million) in building irrigation and power infrastructure for asparagus in An Hải Commune.
It built a wholesale market to promote trade and sale of farmers’ produce, he said.
The asparagus is used as food, tea and cosmetics. — VNS