Mekong Delta provinces will loan local farmers over 2.8 trillion VND (133.3 million USD) to buy 6,800 combine harvesters from now to 2017, aiming to reduce rice losses in the harvest stage, an official said.

The new machines will bring the total number of these facilities in the region to 15,500 in order to ensure all rice fields to be cut by machinery, compared to the current rate of 44 percent.

Nguyen Phong Quang, deputy head of the standing board of the Steering Committee for the Southwestern region, said cooperatives and households who buy combines with over 60 percent of Vietnamese components will be lent the whole value of the machine. They will also receive 100 percent interest subsidy for the loan for the first two years and 50 percent in the third year.

The move is part of efforts to cut down the rate of rice lost during harvest from the current 5.6 percent to 2 percent, equivalent to 900,000 tonnes of unhusked rice.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Can Tho city said farmers can also regain their investment into a combine within two and a half years at the latest. Added to that, each machine can harvest at least 3 hectares of rice a day, which require 30 labourers if done by hand.

The operation costs of a machine are only 2 million VND (95.2 USD) for every hectare, 1 million VND lower than labour cost.

To further help local farmers in buying the machines, Mekong Delta localities will simplify procedures, open training courses on the use and maintenance of the machines, and upgrade the irrigation and road systems to better the facilities’ access to remote areas.

According to the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute, the region cultivates some 4.2 million hectares of rice every year, which generate around 25 million tonnes of unhusked rice, accounting for 58 percent of Vietnam’s annual output.

However, due to a shortage of facilities like combine harvesters, more than 1.4 million tonnes of unprocessed rice or 5.6 percent are lost each year during the harvesting process.-VNA