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A long step in the path of improving rice farming techniques

Khiet Tam - a new paddy field

Among more than 20 cooperative groups and cooperatives that have been strengthened, built, and approached to support from the VnSAT Project (Vietnam Sustainable Agricultural Transformation Project) in Can Tho, Khiet Tam Agricultural Cooperative has emerged as one of the leading models of collective economic development.

A long step in the path of improving rice farming techniques

Khiet Tam Cooperative applies 100% mechanization at the planting stage. Photo: HD.

According to Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Huan, director of Khiet Tam Cooperative, people used to follow the old practice to cultivate rice in the past. The seeding layer was very thick, often up to 200-220 kg/ha. In order to convince people to follow new techniques, the local authority decided to demonstrate the new model in the style of " What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes".

After 1-2 crops of obviously high cultivation efficiency, several farmers gradually reduced the amount of rice seeding to 150 kg/ha and then 120 kg/ha for commercial rice. As for seed-producing fields, the seeds were all sown using transplanters. The amount of seed has now been reduced to only 60-80 kg/ha.

With great will to cooperate, all cooperative members were determined to produce rice in the direction of modern agriculture.

Khiet Tam Cooperative has invested heavily in agricultural machinery and equipment, covering 100% of production stages: from field leveling and tillage using laser, plowing, sowing, to equipment for fertilizer and pesticide spraying, harvesting - threshing machine.

Khiet Tam Cooperation’s mechanization at the harvesting stage. Photo: HD.

During the cultivation process applying technical solutions, the yield of the winter-spring crop reached a stable peak of 7-8 tons/ha (dry rice). However, the much bigger benefit is that the rice has fewer pests and diseases, resulting in less usage of fertilizers and pesticides. Farmers can now reduce costs by 15%. And the people gradually have more faith in the restoration of the environment.

The steady coverage of technological advances

The VnSAT Project is implemented in three key rice growing districts outside of Can Tho city, namely Vinh Thanh, Co Do, and Thoi Lai, with a total area of over 38,860 ha and 32,231 participating farmers. The project’s objective is to support farmers in applying technical solutions.

Khiet Tam Cooperative self-equips rice production machinery. Photo: MD.

According to Can Tho VnSAT Project Management Board, by the 2020 summer-autumn crop of 2020, the project has carried out 557 3G3T (3 reduce 3 increase) technical training courses with a total of 22,435 farmer households participating and a total area of nearly 30,0000 ha; 364 1P5G (1 must 5 reduce) technical training courses with a total of 13,680 participating farmers and a total area of over 17,840 ha. The project has had 241 large and small demonstration sites on 3G3T and 1P5G techniques for farmers to study and practice.

The rate of using certified seed and above was over 80% and continuously increasing. In winter-spring crops from 2015 to 2017, approximately 81% of the cultivated area used high-quality rice varieties. The usage rate gradually increased to 90% by 2020.

The percentage of rice area mechanized in the sowing stage is 15% at present. The area mechanized in the caring stage (fertilizer and pesticide spraying, disease prevention, etc.) is 50%, and 100% of the area applies mechanization at the harvesting stage.

Through training, farmers have approached and implemented more and more advanced rice farming procedures. Photo: MD.

The use of fertilizers in the Project tends to decrease. In the winter-spring crop from 2015 to 2020, the highest amount of N fertilizer used in 2016 was 105 kg/ha, exceeding the recommended 90-100 kg/ha. However, by 2020, the amount of N used was 90 kg/ha, down 10%. On the other hand, farmers have increased the use of organic fertilizers, gradually reducing the amount of inorganic fertilizers, especially N fertilizer.

The yield of winter-spring crop in general has been maintained at a very stable rate, 6.7 - 7.7 tons/ha in areas within the project, an average 0.6 tons higher than areas outside the project. The production cost of the 2020 winter-spring rice is VND 2,165/kg, down VND 162/kg (within the project), down VND 131/kg compared to the average of the last five years.

Through the VnSAT Project, Can Tho has constructed and developed 31 farmer organizations/cooperatives, in which 16 cooperatives have joined hands with enterprises to underwrite output products, accounting for 40% of the area.

There have been 21/31 farmer organizations with breeding groups with a total area of 440 ha/year, with the supply capacity of over 6,000 tons of high-quality rice seeds such as Dai Thom 8, Nang Hoa 9, and Jasmine 85.

The cooperatives also expand services such as crop production services (soil preparation, sowing, irrigation), post-harvest services (combined harvesting, milling, purchasing, agro-product consumption), and agro-inputs trade.

Authors: Huu Duc - Minh Dam

Translated by Samuel Pham

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