Kiên Giang Province, the country’s largest rice producer, plans to shift 86,625 ha of unproductive rice fields to aquaculture and cultivation of other high-value crops from now to 2020.
Of the rice fields, 72,713ha for shrimp – rice or fish –rice rotation, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The province has instructed agencies to set up detailed plans to convert the rice fields and has also encouraged the establishment of agricultural co-operatives to produce a large quantity of agricultural products and improve profits for farmers. It has also improved the transfer of advanced techniques to farmers so they can produce high-quality agricultural and aquatic products for export.
The shrimp-rice rotation model offers farmers an average profit of VNĐ21 million (US$925) per ha for a rice crop and an average profit of VNĐ29 million ($1,300) per ha for a shrimp crop. In addition, it reduced pollution and disease among shrimp. Kiên Giang’s shrimp-rice farming model includes one crop of black tiger shrimp and one rice crop a year, and two crops of white-legged shrimp and one rice crop a year. The model produces clean rice and shrimp as farmers use less chemicals and the shrimp eat natural food in the fields. The model is suitable for areas affected by saltwater intrusion in the dry season with total yields reached 300 – 500 kilo of shrimp and four to seven tonnes of rice per ha a year.
However, irrigation systems at shrimp- rice farming areas have not been perfected, so saltwater intrusion has entered deep inland. In addition, farmers’ profits from a shrimp crop are much higher than that of a rice crop, so many farmers grow two shrimp crops in their fields and quit rice crop. The province plans to focus on investing in infrastructure and farming techniques for the shrimp- rice farming model and establish a brand name for these areas, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The province aims to have 90,000ha devoted to shrimp-rice rotation by 2030.