Farmers harvest giant river prawn bred in a rice field in Ca Mau province’s Thoi Binh district. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNS/VNA) - Farmers in the Mekong Delta have had a bumper harvest of giant river prawns at good prices because of favourable weather conditions and high market demand.

Under a special cultivation model, farmers breed the giant prawn and grow rice on the same field without using chemicals. The prawns eat natural food in the rice fields.  

In Soc Trang province, shrimp–rice farmers are now entering the peak harvest season.

Le Viet Thang, who has a one-hectare rice field in Soc Trang’s Phuoc Long District, said he had a rice yield of seven tonnes per hectare, higher than in the past.

The profit from harvesting prawn and rice this year was about 50 million VND (2,150 USD) per hectare, he said.

Tran Van An, Deputy Chairman of the Phuoc Long district People’s Committee, said the rainy season ended late, so there was enough freshwater for the rice fields.

Local farmers used quality seeds and followed proper plant scheduling, which helped to increase yields.

The environmentally friendly shrimp – rice model reduces production costs, increases yield and profit.

In the rainy season, Bac Lieu has nearly 36,000ha of fields allocated for the shrimp – rice farming model, up nearly 3,000ha against the previous rainy season.

Of the figure, farmers have harvested more than 20,000ha so far.

The cultivation model has an average prawn yield of 250 – 300kg per hectare per crop and 4 – 4.5 tonnes of rice per hectare per crop, according to Bac Lieu authorities.

In Ca Mau province, farmers in Thoi Binh district, which is the province’s largest giant river prawn producer, has about 12,000ha of giant river prawn – rice farming fields.

Nguyen Huu Canh, who lives in Tan Bang commune’s Kenh 6 hamlet in Thoi Binh,  has harvested giant river prawns in his one-hectare rice field and earned a profit of 20 million VND (862 USD).

He began to release about 20,000 giant river prawn fry into rice fields in June this year and harvested about 250kg of giant river prawns after breeding for six months, he said.

Huynh Van Dung, head of the Kenh 6 Hamlet Farmers Association, said: “The model has high economic efficiency, is easy to implement and is sustainable, so many farmers have done it.”

Farmers buy giant river prawn fry in Ca Mau and other provinces such as An Giang province and Can Tho city for breeding, he said.

Traders buy the market-size giant river prawns at a price of 100,000 – 130,000 VND (4.3 – 5.6 USD) a kilogramme.

The price may increase significantly near Tet (Lunar New Year), which falls on February 5 this year, according to traders.

In Tra Vinh province, farmers began harvesting giant river prawns in rice fields early this month.

Chau Thanh, Cau Ngang, Tra Cu and Duyen Hai districts and Duyen Hai town are Tra Vinh’s major giant river prawn breeding areas.

Chau Thanh has more than 1,100ha of rice fields in which farmers breed all male giant river prawns, the largest in the province.

Nguyen Thanh Thuong, Deputy Chairman of the Long Hoa communal People’s Committee in Chau Thanh, said this is the sixth year that many farmers in the commune have bred giant river prawn and organic rice on one field.

Many aquaculture farmers have also switched from breeding two black-tiger shrimp crops a year to one black-tiger shrimp crop and one giant river prawn crop a year, he said.

Investors who produce shrimp seeds, including male giant river prawn seeds, can take advantage of the province’s preferential policies.

The model of breeding all male giant river prawns yields a higher profit than that of breeding mixed gender giant river prawns. The former has a higher survival and growth rate.-VNS/VNA