Making news

Bac Lieu expands growing rice to organic standards

The Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu is expanding the use of organic fertilisers in rice cultivation to improve farmer’s incomes and protect the environment.

In the last winter-spring rice crop, Phuoc Long district’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development launched a pilot programme for increasing the use of organic fertilisers and reducing the use of chemicals on a total area of 110ha, with 60 farmers involved.

Pham Van Cau, one of the farmers, said: “The prices of inputs, especially fertilisers, have shot up, and so the use of organic fertilisers helps farmers reduce costs while rice plants still have high yields and quality.”

He grew 2ha of Dai Thom 8, a speciality rice variety, and got nearly 10 tonnes per hectare, and earned more than 300 million VND (13,000 USD), he said.

Organic fertilisers cost less than chemical fertilisers, and farmers in fact can make them themselves from animal waste, leaves and other agricultural by-products.

Thai Thi Loan, deputy head of the bureau, said organic fertilisers improve soil quality and help rice plants grow well and prevent diseases.

The pilot programme helped reduce the use of chemical fertiliser by 50-70 percent, she said.

The bureau plans to expand the organic rice cultivation, she added.

In the last winter-spring rice, the province Agriculture Extension Centre implemented organic rice farming models on a total of 300ha in Phuoc Long, Hoa Binh and Vinh Loi districts.

Farmers who took part in them were given free seeds and biological pesticides, and taught advanced farming techniques.

Huynh Quoc Khoi, director of the centre, said the models reduced costs by 10-20 percent while yields were still high and farmers got higher prices for their clean rice.

Bac Lieu has great advantages in adopting to organic standards since it has more than 40,000ha of lands where rice is grown in the rainy season and shrimp is bred at other times.

This model is naturally clean with farmers required to use few chemicals.

Local authorities encourage farmers to join co-operatives and tie up with companies to implement the model to ensure they can sell their produce and also grow high-quality rice for export.  

Ba Dinh Cooperative in Hong Dan district was one of the first co-operatives to grow rice to organic standards, and its members now have 300ha under shrimp-rice.

In the last winter-spring rice crop, they planted ST24 and ST25 rice varieties, which have won awards as the world’s best.

Nong Van Thach, director of the co-operative, said: “All the rice was planted to organic standards.”

The co-operative guarantees outlets for all members’ produce, buying the rice at 15-20 percent above market prices and selling it to HCM City, he said.

Bac Lieu has established the Fragrant Rice - Clean Shrimp Co-operative Alliance with the participation of 21 co-operatives which have more than 4,000ha under shrimp-rice.

The co-operatives have created favourable conditions for establishing value chains for their products./.