|Harvesting the 2021 summer - autumn rice in Hậu Giang Province’s Vị Thuỷ District. – VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khương
HCM CITY — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta is harvesting the summer - autumn crop and has had a successful rice crop despite the impact of the COVID - 19 pandemic, Nguyễn Thanh Tùng, deputy head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Plant Cultivation Department, has said.
Speaking at an online seminar last week, Tùng said in the summer - autumn crop, farmers in the delta, the country’s rice granary, sowed 1.51 million hectares of rice, down 9,000ha against last year and are estimated to have a total output of 8.58 million tonnes of paddy, up 124,000 tonnes against last year.
The rates of fragrant, speciality and high-quality rice varieties increased, while the rates of medium-quality rice varieties fell.
The reduced areas of the summer - autumn rice were switched to vegetables, fruits or aquatic species which have high value and require less irrigation water than rice.
To reduce production costs for the summer - autumn rice, local authorities have taught advanced cultivation techniques and encouraged farmers to use effective rice models. These measures have helped farmers reduce the quantity of rice seeds used for sowing to 150 kg per hectare, down 2.2 per cent against last year, and farmers still achieved a good yield.
Delta farmers are also using more machines in harvesting and post - harvesting. As much as 100 per cent of the summer - autumn rice area used ploughing machines, while the rate of machines used for harvesting was 90 per cent.
However, the cost of fertiliser and pesticides accounted for a high rate of production cost of the summer - autumn rice, with fertiliser accounting for 22 per cent and pesticides 16 per cent.
The department warned farmers to promptly harvest the remaining areas of the summer - autumn rice when the rice fields are ready for harvest to mitigate the impact of rains which can flatten ripe rice plants.
Autumn – winter rice
Under the Department of Plant Cultivation’s plan for the autumn - winter rice this year, the delta will sow 700,000ha of autumn - winter rice at an estimated average yield of 5.52 tonnes per hectare, up 11 kg against last year.
The sowing schedules of the autumn - winter rice last between late June to late August.
In Đồng Tháp Mười (Plain of Reeds) and Long Xuyên Quadrangle regions, which deeply flood in the flooding season, farmers were instructed to sow the autumn - winter rice between the end of June and August 20.
Fragrant rice varieties account for 30 per cent and key export rice varieties 50 - 60 per cent.
Nguyễn Đức Dũng, head of the Southern Institute of Water Resources Research, said that water resources are favourable for the autumn - winter rice crop. The level of flooding caused by the rising level of the Mekong River in the delta’s upstream areas in the rainy season will not be high, so the delta’s flood prevention dykes and embankments can protect the rice crop.
However, delta authorities should review important flood prevention dykes and embankments, and set up plans to respond to flooding incidents.
Lê Minh Hoan, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: “The delta’s localities should pay more attention to helping farmers with new farming models and advanced farming techniques.” – VNS