Total rice output in the Mekong Delta this year is estimated to be 500,000 tonnes higher against last year, due to farmers taking action after agriculture officials urged them to use high-quality, high-yield varieties that are disease-resistant and mature within 85 to 95 days.

The total rice output in the Delta for the year is expected to be 25.5 million tonnes, accounting for 56 percent of the country's total output, according to the Southwest Region Steering Committee.

Nguyen Phong Quang, deputy head of the committee, said local officials and farmers have been closely monitoring rice fields for disease and using proper farming techniques.

In the Mekong Delta, more than 470,000ha of the total 732,000ha of the autumn-winter rice crop has been harvested, according to the steering committee.

The harvested area has had an average yield of five tonnes per hectare, up 100 kilos against the previous autumn-winter crop.

Rice on the remaining area is growing well, and the total output for the autumn-winter crop is expected to be 3.7 million tonnes.

In general, farmers have had good harvests and received good prices for their autumn-winter crops.

Vo Van Ut Em, who planted one hectare of rice in Cang Long District in TraVinh Province, said: "When the harvest was near, many traders came to rice fields and deposited money to buy paddy in advance."
Em said his family have earned a profit of 16 million VND (760 USD) per hectare.

Tra Vinh farmers have harvested more than 10,500ha out of 86,850ha of autumn-winter crop, but rice diseases caused by brown plant hoppers and other pests have affected more than 3,300ha.

Some farmers in the southern region who have completed their harvesting of the autumn-winter crop have begun sowing fields for the 2014-15 winter-spring rice crop.

The southern region plans to cultivate a total of 1.6 million hectares of rice for the winter-spring crop. Of that amount, 1.5 million hectares are in the Mekong Delta.-VNA