Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan urged the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute to create new varieties of the staple grain.

During his visit ON January 18 to the facility in Thoi Lai District, Can Tho City, Nhan also asked the institute's leaders to rename it Vietnam Institute for Rice Research in order to convey more accurately that rice is the country's national crop.

For over the past 35 years, the institute has been a leading research unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Its scientists have been praised for their vital contributions to national agricultural production and rural development.

The institute has created 132 rice varieties, of which 63 become popular.

Its research work has focused on varieties particularly susceptible to climate change, seawater rising and salt intrusion.

Out of 6.8 million hectares of rice grown nation-wide, 3.5 million hectares are cultivated with varieties produced by the institute.

As a result, the country's rice output has seen a year-to-year increase of over 2 million tonnes, earning an added value of 12 trillion VND (576 million USD).

The institute's leaders raised concern, however, over their limited financial resources, which have led to the quit of highly qualified personnel.

During his visit to the southwestern region, Deputy PM Nhan also examined an experimental rice-growing model in Soc Trang Province that uses salinity-prone varieties.-VNA