HCM CITY — Farmers in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta, the country’s rice granary, are having a bumper winter-spring harvest and getting high prices for their grain.
In Tiền Giang, farmers in the Gò Công freshwater zone have harvested around 4,000ha and got an average yield of 6.5 tonnes per hectare, 1.2 tonnes more than last year, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The zone, which comprises Gò Công Đông, Gò Công Tây and Chợ Gạo districts and Gò Công Town, is well known for growing fragrant and high-quality rice varieties for export.
Nguyễn Văn Mẫn, the department director, said farmers there sowed more than 21,800ha of rice, or 96 per cent of the target, almost all of it with fragrant and high-quality varieties.
Traders have been buying at the field at VNĐ8,600 per kilogramme, VNĐ1,900-2,000 higher than last year, enabling farmers to earn nearly VNĐ32 million (US$1,520) per hectare, VNĐ13.3 million ($580) higher, according to the department.
The delta’s 12 provinces and Cần Thơ City had sowed the crop about one month earlier than normal to escape the impacts of saltwater intrusion and lack of freshwater during harvest.
Farmers grew 1.5 million hectares, slightly down from last year since in some places they were worried about possible saltwater intrusion and drought.
However, they have had sufficient water for irrigation.
In Cà Mau Province, they have harvested more than 2,000ha of the 36,000ha grown so far, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
In Trần Văn Thời District, which has large areas under the rice-shrimp farming model, many farmers have started growing high-quality rice varieties like ST 24 and ST 25.
Both the rice and shrimp farmed under this model are clean since little chemical is used.
In Trần Văn Thời District, farmers are getting a high price of VNĐ9,000 for ST 25, which ranked first in the 2019 World’s Best Rice Contest.
In Hậu Giang Province, farmers are selling their rice at VNĐ500-800 a kilogramme higher than last year.
Trần Chí Hùng, director of its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said local authorities and farmers had been regularly warned about saltwater intrusion so that they would take proactive measures to protect themselves.
A salinity level of 0.39 per cent or more has been recorded in Vị Thanh City since the middle of this month while 0.24 per cent has been found in Long Mỹ District.
Most rice varieties can only cope with a salinity level of up to 0.1 per cent.
The peak saltwater intrusion in the delta this year is forecast between February 25 and March 4.
Farmers are expected to complete harvest of the rice crop by May, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Plant Cultivation Department. — VNS