New saline-resistant rice varieties have helped farmers in coastal areas in the Mekong Delta become more efficient and earn higher profits.

Farmers in Soc Trang Province's Hong Dan District, for example, began planting soi, a saline-resistant rice variety, early this year on 260ha in Ninh Thanh Loi, Ninh Thanh Loi A and Vinh Loc communes.

Previously, the three communes could only cultivate cajuput, water coconut palm and shrimp.

In 2009, the district's authorities asked Can Tho University to conduct research on a rice variety that could grow in these communes, which were affected by saline intrusion and alum.

University experts chose the soi variety, which can survive with a saline content of 0.1 percent.

This rice variety, which has a maturity period of 150 days, has a yield of more than 4 tonnes per hectare. The university continues to improve this kind of rice variety.

ST, a fragrant rice variety developed in Soc Trang, has developed well in saline water areas, including in rice-shrimp fields.

In 2011, the Delta has also officially put into cultivation 15 new saline-resistant rice varieties. These varieties have high yield and can grow in water with a content of 0.4-0.6 percent salt.

These varieties have been planted in Kien Giang, Ca Mau and Bac Lieu provinces.

Most of these farmers grow rice and raise shrimp on their fields, a model that has been used more frequently in recent years.

The model areas have risen from a few thousand hectares in 2005 to 160,000ha last year, according to the Plant Cultivation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In the rice-shrimp farming model, farmers in coastal provinces let salt water enter fields to farm shrimp in the dry season and use rainwater to grow rice in the rainy season.

Vo Van Be, deputy director of the Soc Trang Agriculture Extension Centre, said the province's rice-shrimp farming model has been a success after two years.

In Soc Trang's My Xuyen District, more than 10,000ha had been cultivated under the rice-shrimp farming model.

In Bac Lieu Province, the rice-shrimp farming area has reached 28,700ha and is expected to increase to 35,000-40,000ha by 2015, according to the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.-VNA