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Mekong Delta rice farmers earn high income from rice straw

Rice farmers in the Mekong Delta are earning higher incomes from selling rice straw left over from the harvested 2019 – 20 winter-spring rice crop.

The rice straw, which can be used to grow mushrooms, is in high demand.

The delta, the country’s rice granary, is completing the harvest of the winter-spring rice and traders are buying rice straw bales that weigh 20 – 25 kilogrammes each at a price of 30,000 VND (1.3 USD), up 7,000 – 8,000 VND against the same period last year.

The demand for rice straw to make cattle food, produce compost fertiliser, and cultivate rice straw mushrooms has caused the price to increase.

Farmers in the delta have earned an average income of 700,000 – 900,000 VND (30 – 38 USD) from selling rice straw per hectare in the 2019 – 20 winter-spring crop, according to farmers.

Nguyen Van Do, who has a 3ha rice field in Dong Thap province’s Thanh Bình district, said he earned 30 million VND (1,300 USD) from selling rice straw from two rice crops planted in one year.

Besides earning additional income, he no longer has to burn rice straw on his field.

Many farmers in the delta often burn rice straw after harvesting rice to clear the land for the next rice crop. The open-field burning method, however, causes air pollution.

With higher demand for rice straw in recent years, traders are visiting harvested rice fields to buy rice straw. They rent baling machines and then sell the product to customers.

A rice straw baling machine can process 500 – 600 bales a day. Each hectare of harvested rice field provides 120 – 150 bales.

More farmers in the delta are using the straw because of the high demand for rice straw mushrooms, which is used in many dishes.

In Can Tho city, farmers cultivate rice straw mushrooms and earn 30 – 40 million VND (1,300 – 1,700 USD) per 1,000 sq.m per one-month mushroom crop.

Doan Van Suol, who grows rice straw mushrooms in Binh Thuy district in Can Tho, said: "Many households here have become well off from growing the mushrooms."

Traders are buying rice straw mushrooms for 45,000 – 50,000 VND (2 – 2.1 USD) a kilogramme.

Because local supply of rice straw cannot meet demand, mushroom farmers in the city have to buy rice straw from neighbouring provinces.

After harvesting rice straw mushrooms, farmers sell the left-over straw to other farmers who use it as organic fertiliser to grow flowers, vegetables or fruits.

Nguyen Thi Phuong, who grows flowers in Binh Thuy’s Long Tuyen ward, said most flower farmers use left-over straw to make organic fertiliser.

“Organic fertiliser is important to increase the quality of flowers,” she said.