Rice Article: Vietnam
New technique raises delta yields
HA NOI — A pilot rice-growing programme that adheres to what is known as the "three reductions, three increases" method has yielded encouraging initial results in the Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta region.
Under the programme, farmers reduce the quantities of rice strains, urea fertiliser and insecticides that are used in rice farming. Such reductions have helped increase crop yield, rice quality and economic effectiveness.
The programme, which was co-sponsored by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), was introduced by MARD’s Plants Protection Department.
According to the Agriculture and Rural Development Department of south-western Can Tho city, 1,380 farming households in suburban areas have taken part in the pilot programme since the 2003-04 winter-spring rice crop.
They were taught how to plant rice seedlings in straight lines, use reasonable amounts of urea fertiliser by observing plant leaves and compare their colours to indicators, and phase out one round of insecticide spraying.
On average, farmers saved 83kg of rice strains, 23kg of urea and a round of insecticide spray for every hectare of cultivated land while harvesting VND807,800 worth of rice more than they had been able to using traditional methods.
The pilot programme, carried out on large areas of Tien Giang, An Giang, Dong Thap and Hau Giang provinces, registered impressive yields during the recent harvest, according to the Can Tho City agriculture department.
Thanh Nam Commune of Tien Giang Province’s Cai Lay District, and Vinh Loi Commune of An Giang Province’s Chau Thanh District, have set aside more area for the programme than any other commune in the city.
Nguyen Thanh Ngon, a resident of Phuoc Thoi Commune in Can Tho City’s outlying O Mon District, had the most success of any farmer who took part in the programme.
During his two years under the programme, Ngon earned VND60 million (US$380) a year from one hectare of land, which was VND10 million more than the national target, thanks in large part to the application of new technical innovations and by combining rice farming with livestock breeding.
"In addition to technical innovations, the pilot scheme has focused on promoting close links among farmers, processors, traders and bankers," said the vice director of the Plants Protection Department, Nguyen Huu Huan.
Through close co-ordination with bankers, processors and traders, farmers don’t have to worry about shortages of investment capital, product processing and outlets.
"If the programme is applied massively to 1.5 million hectares of double-crop fields in the Mekong delta region, it will be able to save VND843 billion for local farmers annually," said Huan.
According to his calculations, if 80kg of rice seed are reduced for each hectare of crop land a year, then the region would save VND480 billion ($30 million).
Similarly, the region would save between VND163 billion and VND300 billion by reducing urea and fertiliser usage.
Cutting back on urea and insecticide use would also help improve the environment while saving money that could be invested in buying new farming equipment.
If the programme is successful, and if it is extended to other parts of the country, then it will help the country attain the target of raising agricultural production value to VND50 million per hectare of crop land, said Huan. — VNS