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Kien Giang (VNA) – A World Bank-funded project has improved capacity of agricultural cooperatives in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang and helped change the farming practices of local farmers.

According to Le Huu Minh from the management board of the project “Vietnam Sustainable Agriculture Transformation” (VnSAT) in Kien Giang, thousands of local farmers have learned new rice cultivation techniques – “three reductions, three gains (3R3G)” and “one must, five reductions (1M5R)” – during the recent Winter-Spring rice crops. The techniques have helped them reduce costs and improve rice production efficiency and competitiveness, thus increasing their incomes.

3R3G refers to reductions in seed, chemicals, and water; and gains in productivity, quality, and economic efficiency while 1M5R means using registered seeds and reductions in seed, chemical fertilizer, pesticide, water use, and post-harvest loss.

More than 30 pilot farms applying 3R3G technique have been set up to guide farmers on proper use of pesticides and fertilisers in which a cut of 20-80 kilogrammes of seeds, 10-30 kilogrammes of fertilisers and 10-15 percent of pesticides are applied to each hectare of rice. As a result, each hectare yields 0.3 tonnes more and saves 300,000-350,000 VND in cost.

However, many challenges hindered the project’s progress, including extreme weather events like drought, saltwater intrusion, and storms; poor irrigation systems; and difficulty in changing old farming behaviors.

Additionally, Kien Giang doesn’t have a brand name for local rice produces and still lacks high-quality or organic rice products, affecting the province’s export capacity.

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Pham Vu Hong said the province will accelerate communication campaigns to raise farmers’ awareness of the project’s benefits to resolve the problems. It will also work with companies to scale up rice production.

The province has asked local banks to provide agribusinesses and cooperatives with easier access to soft loans and directed the provincial Department of Trade and Industry to put more efforts into market forecasts and to ramp up trade promotion events to help local rice products access overseas markets.

According the Kien Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the VnSAT project in the province has investment of over 14.5 million USD, including 9.4 million USD sourced from the Official Development Assistance fund, more than 1.7 million USD from local budget and about 3.45 million USD funded by the private sector.

It has been carried out across over 29,500 hectares of rice in 16 communes of Tan Hiep, Giong Rieng, Chau Thanh, Hon Dat and Giang Thanh districts. About 14,446 farmer households from 46 farm cooperatives have taken part in the project.-VNA