Farmers from the Mekong Delta provinces plan to use 112,000 ha of land for growing subsidiary crops like maize and soybeans from now to 2015 in order to contain the spread of summer-spring rice disease.

The disease, along with a water shortage during the dry season, affected the grain output, which varied from 3.5 to 4.2 tonnes per hectare.

The shift is therefore expected to protect over 1.6 million ha of grain and stablise the output of over 9 million tonnes of the product during the summer-autumn crop, according to the local Plant Cultivation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The department suggested upgrading irrigation work and equipping local farmers with better cultivation techniques.

It is also necessary to seek consensus between businesses (consumers) and farmers (manufacturers) through economic contracts, agriculturists said.

The Mekong Delta region – the country’s largest rice granary - comprises of 12 provinces and one centrally-run city with a total area of 40,000 square kilometres and a population of 18 million.-VNA