Unfertilised soil used to grow lotus

Farmers across Vietnam have found lotus a profitable alternative crop for rice, especially when their land is unfertilised.
Unfertilised soil used to grow lotus ảnh 1A lotus pond in Xuan Vinh Commune, Xuan Truong District, Nam Dinh Province. Local farmers for the last few years have shifted from rice to lotus to make use of unfertilised land. (Photo: danviet.vn)

Nam Dinh (VNS/VNA) - Farmers across Vietnam have found lotus a profitable alternative crop for rice, especially when their land is unfertilised.

Fifty-year-old farmer Nguyen Van Don in Xuan Vinh commune, Xuan Truong district, the northern province of Nam Dinh, started growing lotus three years ago on more than 2ha area of sunken land that he rented from other local farmers.

The land had not been used for years as it was unfertilised and failed to grow rice, Don said, adding that he rented the land and restored it for lotus cultivation.

With proper farming technique and fertilising, Don’s lotus plants have grown well on the land.

Don said his family harvested about four tonnes of lotus seeds and thousands of lotus flowers each year.

He sold each kilo of seeds for 25,000 -35,000 VND (1.07 -1.5 USD) and each flower for 3,000 VND.

“Compared with rice production, growing lotus is much more stable and economically profitable,” he said

Don calculated that he could harvest about 170kg of lotus seed per sao (1 sao equals 360sq.m) per year, which helped him earn more than 5million VND (214 USD) while he earned only 500,000 VND when growing rice.

“When growing rice, we have to buy fertiliser, pesticides and hire labourers to plant and harvest while we hardly spend any money on fertiliser or pesticide,” Don said, adding that he could have some extra income thanks to shrimp and fish caught from the lotus pond.

“Without fertiliser, a lotus pond is a good place for shrimp and fish to live,” he said.

The beauty of lotus flowers and their scent during summer days also attracts many visitors to Don’s lotus pond.

Vu Manh Cam, head of the Xuan Vinh commune Farmers’ Association, said local farmers shifted from rice to lotus three years ago and the area of lotus farms has steadily increased.

Now, more than 10ha of land is used for lotus cultivation.

“Lotus plants help many households in the commune escape poverty and generate jobs in the rural area,” Cam said.

In Thach Ha town, Thach Ha district in the central province of Ha Tinh, farmers also earn about 70 million VND (3,000 USD) per hectare of lotus, double the income they gained from rice.

Le Phi Quoc of Thanh Chau hamlet, Thach Ha town, said that he first brought lotus to grow on his unused land for fun as he saw lotus flowers were so beautiful.

For years, Quoc and many local farmers did not grow rice on the land after losing crops, he said, adding that they were very surprised and happy to see lotus grow well.

“We harvested lotus seeds and could sell them for quite high prices, so we started concentrating on nursing lotus plants to get seeds and flowers,” he said.

A kilo of fresh seeds can be sold at 30,000-50,000 VND (1.29 -2.15 USD) while the dried seeds are 160,000 VND (7 USD) per kilo.

Vice chairman of Thach Ha town People’s Committee Nguyen Dinh Duc told danviet.vn that local authorities encouraged farmers to make used of unfertilised land to grow lotus.

Meanwhile, about 100 households in My Son hamlet, Duy Phu commune, Duy Xuyen district in the central province of Quang Nam have used their unfertilised land to grow lotus.

Tran Anh Lang, a local farmer, said that lotus could generate income three times higher than rice.

With 0.5ha of lotus, his family earned more than 100 million VND yearly.

Local farmers also received technical assistance from the district’s Agriculture Technology Centre and last year, the province’s Farming Products Quality Control Department helped them grow lotus to meet VietGap standards.

In Duy Xuyen district, lotus is grown on about 100ha, mostly in Duy Phu and Duy Son communes.

The district plans to expand its lotus cultivation area and develop a value chain for lotus so growers could benefit from the province’s supporting policy which offers free seedless farming materials and find a market for products, said head of the district’s Agriculture Department Tran Huy Tuong./.

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