|An organic rice-giant river prawn field in Châu Thành District’s Long Hòa Commune in Trà Vinh Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Hòa
TRÀ VINH — Farmers who grow organic rice and breed giant river prawn in the same rice field under farm contracts in the Mekong Delta Province of Trà Vinh are getting bumper harvests and high prices.
The farmers grow ST 24 rice variety, which ranked third in the World’s Best Rice Contest in 2017. They have harvested 5.4 tonnes per hectare for this year’s organic rice crop.
Nguyễn Văn Nhanh, chairman of the Long Hòa Commune People’s Committee, said that a co-operative and two companies signed contracts this year with 112 farmers who grow ST 24 rice variety under organic standards on a total area of 95ha.
Contracted farmers are guaranteed a minimum price for the ST 24 rice variety at VNĐ10,200 (US$0.44) a kilogramme, two times higher than normal rice varieties. Their organic rice sells for VNĐ12,500 a kilogramme.
According to Nguyễn Văn Huệ, head of the Xẻo Ranh Hamlet organic rice co-operative-group in Long Hòa, the model of growing organic rice and breeding giant river prawns has offered high economic efficiency in the past eight years.
Under the model, farmers harvest an average of 500 kilogrammes of giant river prawns per hectare a crop.
The profit is about VNĐ150-200 million (US$6,400-8,600) per hectare a year.
The environmentally friendly model produces clean rice and prawn, and is also sustainable compared to other shrimp farming methods like intensive and semi-intensive farming.
Nhanh said the commune this year had sufficient conditions for growing organic rice on a total of 300ha, but could not find companies to sign farm contracts with farmers to guarantee outlets for the whole 300ha.
On rice fields that have conditions to grow organic rice but lack farm contracts, the commune has encouraged farmers to continue the organic rice-giant river prawn model.
The commune has encouraged farmers to set up rice co-operatives to create favourable conditions for contracts with companies.
Organic rice cultivation is one of the province’s 13 farming models that is being expanded because it is economically, socially and environmentally effective.
In recent years, the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province has organised organic rice-model demonstrations for farmers for learning purposes.
The cost of fertiliser and pesticides for organic rice has also fallen compared to traditional farming methods, while the yield and quality is higher.
The province has hundreds of hectares of organic rice cultivation, mostly in districts Châu Thành, Cầu Ngang, Trà Cú, Tiểu Cần, Càng Long and Cầu Kè.
It plans to expand organic rice cultivation to 2,500ha by 2030. — VNS