It is time for Vietnam to introduce crop diversification on rice land to increase profits, Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development told a recent conference on restructuring crop production in the capital city of Hanoi.

A report delivered at the conference said that last year, the aggregate value of agro-forestry and fisheries in Vietnam reached 1.02 trillion VND (48.6 million USD), of which 52 percent came from crop production.

However, compared to 2012, the value of agricultural commodities was down by 2.3 percent. And it is projected that in 2014, the value will fall a further 3 percent.

Crop restructuring raised food security and farm incomes, alleviated poverty, stabilised the country's socio-economic situation, protected the environment and responded to climate change, Phat said.

Nguyen Xuan Hong, director general of the Plant Protection Department under the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development said the use of pesticides is still rampant among farmers.
"This also increases costs considerably. The amount of pesticide sprayed by the farmers could be cut by half," he added.

Many agriculture experts said up to 80 percent of pesticide sprays by farmers were not the right ones or were unnecessary.

To make restructuring successful, Phat asked farmers to invest more in plants of high economic value and in commodities highly sought after in the market.

In addition, he also urged farmers to use plant species of high quality and pest resistance and to apply advanced science and technology in farm production, particularly in reducing post-harvest losses. "At the end of the day, the restructuring process must help the farmers to have a better life," Phat said.

In the course of restructuring crops, 13 provinces in the south have created 369 giant rice fields covering 120,500ha. Provinces in the Song Hong ( Red River ) Delta have established 1,256 large rice fields on 35,518 ha.

In 2013, farmers in the Cuu Long ( Mekong ) Delta converted 87,310ha of rice land to grow other crops.

Farmers in the north also planted subsidiary crops instead of rice on tens of thousands of hectares - and earned high profits.

The present ongoing campaign aims to use poor paddy fields to grow other crops, or for animal husbandry or aqua-culture in as many localities as possible.-VNA