The southernmost province of Ca Mau is zoning 20,000ha of the U Minh Ha (Lower U Minh) forest for growing organic rice for export by 2020 under a recently approved plan by local authorities.

Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Van Su said the plan has been carried out right from the 2014 – 2015 crop with 2,500ha of rice cultivated on part of the forest.

The area is expected to increase over the next years and reach 10,000ha by 2017 and 20,000ha by 2020.

In recent years, Ca Mau has piloted the cultivation of rice on part of the U Minh Ha forest, which originally harbours cajuput trees, and harvested encouraging results.

Rice grown without chemical fertilizers in the forest generated nearly 4.7 tonnes per hectare while the province’s average only approximates 4 tonnes per hectare.

Scientists said such productivity is thanks to U Minh Ha’s favourable conditions such as naturally fertile soil and fresh water all year round.

Su said the current productivity of 500,000 tonnes of rice per year is only sufficient to feed the province’s population of 1.2 million.

With organic rice fields in the forest, Ca Mau expects to raise its rice output and export 100,000 tonnes of this produce every year from 2020, he added./.