The southern provinces target a total output of nearly 10.1 million tonnes of rice in the 2013 summer-autumn crop, an increase of nearly 323,000 tonnes compared with the output of the same crop last year.

The total output includes over 9.35 million tonnes of rice harvested in the Mekong Delta, according to figures released at a meeting held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Can Tho City on March 19.

The Mekong Delta provinces have nearly 1.7 million hectares and the southeast provinces nearly 148,100 ha under the ongoing summer-autumn rice crop.

Mekong Delta farmers are looking to an average output of 5.54 tonnes per ha while those in southeast provinces hope to harvest 5.05 tonnes of rice per ha.

Farmers have been advised no to use medium- and low-quality rice variety because low-quality rice does not sell well in the local and overseas markets.

They have been instructed to plant high-quality rice variety and fragrant rice which can be exported for high prices.

Farmers are also encouraged to apply new technologies to cut costs; to use machinery and equipment for harvesting; and to apply post-harvest drying techniques to reduce losses and to ensure high quality for their products.

According to the Southern Hydro-Meteorology Bureau, farmers will face difficulties in the 2013 summer-autumn crop as the weather is not favourable.

In early March, thousands of hectares under the spring-summer crop (or the early summer-autumn rice crop) in the Mekong Delta faced water shortages due to the intrusion of salt water in the region.

Insects also damaged tens of thousands of hectares under the spring-summer rice crop.

Provincial authorities have been asked to repair irrigation networks to ensure water for the summer-autumn rice crop.-VNA