Mekong Delta paddy fields to grow higher-value crops, animals: PM

By Cuu Long   December 11, 2019 | 05:30 pm PT
Mekong Delta paddy fields to grow higher-value crops, animals: PM
Rice is harvested on a paddy field in An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta, June 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Van Thai.
Vietnam will use 500,000 hectares of rice fields, mostly in the Mekong Delta, to grow more ‘appropriate and valuable crops and animals.’

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at conference in the delta’s Can Tho City Tuesday that out of the country’s 7.8 million hectares of arable land, 4.1 million hectares were reserved for rice.

Solutions to produce good products, reduce prices, ensure sufficient output and adapt to climate change need to be discussed, he said, adding that farmers should not over-plant rice so as to prevent a reduction in soil quality and environmental pollution.

Authorities should have policies to support key agricultural products, and to help farmers access resources necessary to produce them, bring their prices down and increasing profits, Phuc said.

Cutting rice production and switching to other crops has been an issue on the table for a while now, since the crop was a "risky one" and "cannot ensure economic efficiency," Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong had said at a National Assembly session last month.

Cutting down 500,000 hectares would reduce rice output by 3-4 million tons a year, which would have no impact on food security, he’d said.

Vietnam, the world’s third largest rice exporter behind India and Thailand for several years now, exported over six million tons of the grain worth $3.15 billion last year, up 16 percent from 2017.

The global demand for rice is around 36 million tons a year.

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