Farmers in Vinh Long, one of the main vegetable growing provinces in the Mekong Delta, are busy planting crops ahead of Tet (Lunar New Year) next month and expecting a good harvest.

Bui Thi Hong Tham, who has 2,000sq.m of land under vegetables in Tra On district's Thoi Hoa commune, said she was planting green bean, corn, and various kinds of herbs.

"Thanks to favourable weather, my vegetables are developing well and disease-free.

"I hope to have a bumper harvest and sell the vegetables at a good price."

Tra On farmers are growing of various vegetables like green onion, cabbage, bitter melon, and cucumber on around 250ha, according to local officials.

In Long Ho district, farmers have begun growing vegetables for Tet since last December.

In Long Ho's Phuoc Hau commune, farmers are growing 60ha of vegetables, with the Phuoc Hau Safe Vegetable Co-operative accounting for a fourth of that.

Nguyen Van Xua, a member of the co-operative, said, "I grow cabbages and expect to have a good harvest this Tet.

"The co-operative has trained us in producing safe vegetables."

Nguyen Hoang Quy, deputy chairman of the Phuoc Hau Commune Farmers Association, said, "This Tet the co-operative has contracted to sell vegetables to supermarkets and companies in neighbouring provinces."

The association has also taught farmers techniques to grow clean vegetables, he said.

Tran Thanh Tam, who is growing watermelon for Tet in Long Ho's Thanh Quoi Commune, said, "My watermelons are likely to be harvested five days before Tet."

Last year Tam grew rice at this time.

At the end of last year the area under vegetables in Vinh Long was up 8.2 percent from 2013 at around 48,000ha, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

It attributed the increase to some districts that are suitable for growing vegetables encouraging farmers to rotate between rice and other food crops.

They are advised to grow one rice crop and two others a year or at least one non-rice crop along with two rice crops to earn higher profits, which could be two to five times the amount from just rice.

According to the department, a farmer who grows a winter-spring rice crop and two watermelon crops a year can earn annual profits of 113 million VND (5,300 USD) per hectare.

The rotation of crops also helps improve the fertility of rice fields and reduces the cost of treating rice diseases and pests, agriculture extension officials said.

Under a province plan to restructure agriculture in 2014-20, the area on which a third rice crop is grown will be reduced by 20 percent this year to 148,000ha.

District agriculture bureaus have instructed farmers to grow clean vegetables and co-operate with co-operatives and companies to guarantee outlets for their output.

Corn, soy bean, sesame, watermelon, winged yam have been identified as high-value crops for planting instead of rice.

Nguyen Van Duc, who grows winged yam on 1.3ha in Mang Thit district's Long My commune, said he earned profits of 40-60 million VND (1,900 -2,800 USD) per hectare per year.

"Winged yam does not need much care like rice and fetches higher profits than rice."

Ngo Viet Son, a local agriculture official, said many farmers had switched to winged yam and now the crop was grown on 26ha in the commune.

There were plans to grow the vegetable on 30ha in Long Hoa 1 and 2 hamlets this year, he added.-VNA