Farmers in Bến Tre Province have earned high profits from rotating rice and shrimp cultivation in the same rice field.
In An Nhơn Commune, which has more than 7,000 ha of rice, most farmers are now growing organic rice. They use organic fertilisers without pesticides. When rice fields are infected with brown planthoppers, farmers allow water to enter the fields and submerge rice plants to their tops to kill the pests.
Lê Văn Miền, who owns a 1.3 ha rice field in An Nhơn, said he has grown organic rice for three years and that all of his rice is guaranteed an outlet by a company. In 2017, he sold VNĐ 8,500 a kg for his rice, VNĐ 1,000 higher than the market price. The average profit for organic rice is VNĐ3 million (US$130) per 1,000 sq.m.
Rice fields also have a lot of algae after organic rice is harvested, providing food for shrimp, fish and crabs, he said. The cost of fertilisers used for organic rice fields is 40 percent less than the price for traditional rice fields, he said. With the success of the rice-shrimp cultivation model in recent years, many farmers in the district who moved to other provinces to work have returned home to grow rice and shrimp.
Hồ Văn Cương, deputy chairman of the An Nhơn Commune Farmers Association, said the rate of poor households in An Nhơn had fallen to 6 percent now compared to 30 per cent three years ago. Trương Thanh Hải, head of Thạnh Phú District Agriculture and Rural Development Dept., said the district has regularly organised training courses on farming techniques for clean rice.
Farmers in the district have set up shrimp-rice cultivation co-operative teams to exchange information about farming techniques, diseases and prices. The district has 25 co-operative teams as well as the Thạnh Phú Clean Rice Co-operative. District farmers have planted 6,500 ha of rice with an average yield of 4.5 tonnes per ha under the shrimp-rice cultivation model last year. Hải said besides explaining the benefits of growing organic rice to farmers, the district is trying to develop an organic shrimp cultivation model in rice fields.