Tra Vinh farmers expand organic rice areas hinh anh 1An organic rice field in Tra Vinh province’s Cau Ngang district (Photo: VNA)

Tra Vinh (VNA) – The Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh has encouraged farmers to expand environmentally friendly organic rice fields that have improved the quality of rice and soil fertility.

In Cau Ngang, more than 100 farmers in Cau Ngang’s My Hoa, Kim Hoa, Vinh Kim and Hiep Hoa communes signed a contract in 2017 with a company to grow organic rice on a total area of 82ha.

The company provided farmers with techniques such as sowing, fertilising, disease management and harvest methods. The company also supplied materials, and it guaranteed outlets for the farmers.

In the first organic rice crop, the farmers earned a profit of 30 million VND (1,300 USD) per hectare per crop, up 6 million VND (260 USD) compared to normal farming methods.

Organic rice fields use less fertiliser and do not use chemicals. Farmers can also breed aquatic species in ditches in the rice fields to earn additional income, or rotate rice and aquatic species on the same fields. 

Thach Mara, who has planted organic rice in Hiep Hoa commune since 2017, said rice grown under organic standards develops well and adapts to climate change.  

In his first crop, his 0.4ha rice field had a yield of 6 tonnes per ha, up one tonne compared to traditional farming methods. He expanded the organic rice area to 0.7ha this year.

Tran Hong Nghiep, an agricultural official in Hiep Hoa, said to encourage farmers to grow organic rice, the commune guarantees outlets for farmers and link them with others who produce organic rice.

The commune’s organic rice cooperative group has called on farmers to join the group which can easily link up with companies and access government support policies.

The group now has 49 members who grow a total of 52ha of organic rice.

Its members who rotate organic rice cultivation and black tiger shrimp or giant river prawn breeding on their rice fields earn a profit of 50 - 60 million VND (2,200 - 2,600 USD) per ha for each shrimp crop. 

Nguyen Ngoc Hai, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that farmers, companies and the State have developed linkages under the organic model, which has improved the value and quality of the province’s rice.

Besides the health benefits of organic food, organic farming improves soil fertility and protects aquatic resources.  

Tra Vinh grows more than 200,000ha of rice each year, but has only a few hundred ha of rice planted under organic standards.

The coastal province plans to increase its organic rice area to 1,000ha by the end of this year and to 2,500ha by 2030, according to the department./.