Tra Vinh expands organic peanut farms hinh anh 1Harvesting peanuts in Tra Vinh province’s Cau Ngang district. (Photo: VNA)

Tra Vinh (VNS/VNA) -
The Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh has encouraged more farmers to grow peanuts with organic fertiliser and less irrigation water to save labour costs and improve income.

The winter-spring 2016-17 crop planted by farmers of the Dong Tam Co-operative in Cau Ngang district’s Long Son commune had positive results.

Established in 2016, the group has 15 household members, including nine poor households and one near-poor household.

In the 2016-17 winter-spring crop, the co-operative members grew peanuts under the new model on a total area of 4ha.

They were supported by the Project for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Mekong Delta in Tra Vinh Province (AMD Tra Vinh).

The project paid for peanut seeds, fertiliser and automatic irrigation system, and helped them install automatic irrigation system and make organic fertiliser from agricultural by-products.

The cost of implementing the model was 457.3 million VND (19,800 USD), including 207.6 million VND from the AMD Tra Vinh and 249.7 million VND from the members.

An automatic irrigation system includes a pump, water pipes and sprinklers. It costs about 30-35 million VND to install an automatic irrigation system on one hectare and can be used for five to seven years.

The model saves labour costs as it requires only one labourer to irrigate one hectare of peanuts, while traditional farming methods need four people.

Tran Van Banh, head of the group, said peanuts planted under the model had a yield of 8-9 tonnes per hectare, up 1.5-2 times higher than traditional farming.

The members had a profit of 50 million VND (2,160 USD) per hectare a crop, two times higher than traditional farming.

Besides harvesting peanuts, the members also use peanut by-products to feed cows and improve income.

Tran Van Nong, one of the members, said he also had 2,000sq.m of peanuts that were provided with financial support for installing automatic irrigation system.

He has invested automatic irrigation system for an additional 1,000sq.m of peanuts with his own money, he said.

With the success of the model, 70 households in Long Son commune have applied the model for their peanut fields.

Huynh Quang Son, deputy head of the province’s Agriculture Extension Centre’s Plant Cultivation Division, said agricultural production plays a crucial role in the province’s economy as the province has 180,000ha of arable land, accounting for 78 percent of its total area.

Under the province’s policies of turning ineffective rice fields into growing areas for other crops to increase value and adapt to climate change, peanuts are suited to the province’s soil and weather, he said.

Farmers can use agricultural by-products to make organic fertiliser which improves yield and quality.

Tra Vinh has more than 17,00ha of coastal sand dunes, the largest in the delta. The coastal sand dunes normally face shortage of irrigation water in the dry season and are not suitable for rice cultivation.

Peanut vines are suited for growing in coastal sand dunes.

Pham Minh Truyen, deputy director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that peanut cultivation has faced a shortage of quality peanuts for seeding.

The province can produce only 20 percent of peanuts for seeding and has to buy 80 percent from other provinces.

It also lacks companies that invest in processing peanuts, so farmers face difficulties in finding stable peanut outlets, he said.

The province’s People’s Committee has decided to spend more than 12 billion VND (519,000 USD) to improve the value chain for peanut in the 2018-20 period.

The province, one of the delta’s largest peanut producers, has 4,420ha of peanuts, including 3,400ha in Cau Ngang district.

It has zoned a 500ha specialised farming area that will produce two crops of peanuts for seeding a year beginning next year.

It also plans to expand peanut cultivation area to 8,450ha with an annual output of 45,000 tonnes next year./.