Farmers in Chau Thanh district, Tra Vinh province, have switched from planting rice to growing chili peppers, increasing their profits fourfold. (Source: VNA)

Tra Vinh (VNS/VNA) — Many farmers in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh have escaped poverty by adapting to climate change and shifting from rice to maize or peanut cultivation as well as the breeding of goats and aquatic species.

Farmers in the last five years have converted about 18,000ha of ineffective rice fields in the province to other crops, and have also been breeding aquatic species and animals.

The converted areas offer 1.5-3 times more profit than rice, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Since 2017, 10 farmers in a cooperative team, for example, have been breeding blood cockles on a 0.6ha alluvial ground in Duyen Hai district’s Long Khanh commune.

The team invested 170 million VND (7,300 USD), including 120 million VND from the Project for Adaptation to Climate Change in Tra Vinh to buy blood cockle seeds, nets and stakes.

Blood cockles breed for eight months and the harvest season lasts about two months.

Each team member makes a profit of 8 million VND from selling the cockles in each harvest. Members are also paid 100,000-150,000 VND each a day for preparing the breeding area, harvesting blood cockles or grading blood cockles.

Nguyen Thi Nguyet Nga, head of the team, said that five of the 10 members once belonged to poor and near-poor households but were able to escape poverty after harvesting two crops.

Located between the Co Chien and Hau rivers with a 65 km coastline, Tra Vinh is often affected by saltwater intrusion, rising sea levels and erosion.

The province has more than 186,000ha of farmland, accounting for 79 percent of its total land area.

More than 90 percent of the province’s land is affected by saltwater intrusion between December and June in the dry season.

Pham Minh Truyen, director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that farmers were adapting to climate change by shifting from rice to other crops and breeding animals or aquatic species.

The province has encouraged them to sign contracts with companies to guarantee outlets for their products, establish large-scale rice fields, and apply good agricultural practices (GAP) standards in agriculture, aquaculture and forestry production.

The province’s Co-operative Alliance has also urged members to build brand names for their products, and has provided them with management training.

The province has 119 agricultural co-operatives, accounting for 67 percent of its total cooperatives.

To mitigate the impact of climate change, the province has built embankments and sluice gates, and has dredged irrigation canals to store freshwater.-VNS/VNA