The conference was attended by more than 100 participants from the department, Thanh Hoa Agricultural Extension Centre, Dekalb Vietnam, and farmers who had joined the pilot programme.
According to the department’s statistics, Thanh Hoa cultivates 60,000 hectares of corn each year. Now the province is targeting 72,000 hectares by 2020 to comply with the government and the Ministry of Agriculture and Development (MARD)’s master plan on switching from rice to corn. In order to restructure agricultural production according to Decree No.16-NQ/TU, the department designed cooperation models to transfer technology to farmers. One of these models provides Dekalb Genuity corn seeds with weed management and insect protection traits to farmers in the spring 2016 cultivation season.
The total cultivation area was 50 hectares, for which Thanh Hoa needs about one tonne of seeds. Dekalb Vietnam gave the seeds to the farmers and 100 litres of MAXER 660SC herbicide to go with it.
Le Huy Hoang, Deputy Chairman of the Tho Xuan District People’s Committee, said that in the 2015-2016 spring harvest season the district cooperated with Dekalb Vietnam to pilot the cooperation model to produce corn with weed management and insect protection traits DK6919S, DK6818S, and DK9955S on 50 hectares in Tho Hai commune (37ha) and Xuan Yen commune (13ha). The aim is to evaluate the yield, quality, the ability to resist pests and herbicides, the adaptation capacity of the breeds and their cost-efficiency, in order to decide whether to start mass production.
Hoang said the pilot showed that Dekalb Vietnam’s breeds only needed herbicide treatment once at the seedling stage, so farmers can effectively manage weeds, and reduce the weeding and pesticide spraying workload. Also, thanks to effective weed management, the trees grow well and do not have to compete with the weed for nutrients and light, which increases the yield. Moreover, Dekalb Genuity breeds are resistant to three types of pests. In the same condition, Dekalb corn has a yield of 7,130 kilogrammes per hectare, 600 kilogrammes or 9 per cent higher than the control breed. The cost is VND12,020,000 ($540) per ha, VND1,220,000 ($55) lower than for the control breed, because the workload for weeding, pesticide spraying, and ploughing decreased. In total, Dekalb breeds bring VND5,120,000 ($230) per ha more to farmers than hybrid breeds.
“We propose that the Thanh Hoa DARD incorporate breeds with weed management and insect protection traits in the province’s cultivation plan. In addition, the department should implement policies to support farmers in Tho Xuan district and Thanh Hoa province so they can access new technologies and breeds in order to have a higher yield,” he said. He also asked Dekalb Vietnam to train farmers before every planting season, so that they can increase the scale of production.
Farmer Trinh Dinh Luan from Xuan Yen commune of Tho Xuan district joined in the planting of Dekalb Genuity in the spring 2015-2016 season. He said even though after he sowed the seeds, there is a drought so the corn would not start growing until after eight or nine days, but the rate at which the corn actually growing into a tree from the seed is really high.
In addition, these breeds can be planted at higher density than others require less care and do not take as much work, as he only had to spray herbicide once. The ears are not too big but consistent, the colour is beautiful, and the seeds cover the cob so the yield is high. “If in the next corn season we do not get a subsidy to plant these breeds we will still switch to them,” he said.
The cooperation model, which aims to improve the supply chain of corn and make it more sustainable, is afocus of Monsanto’s activities in Vietnam. Monsanto’s subsidiary Dekalb Vietnam has secured the permission from the MARD to commercialise the breeds with weed management and insect protection traits in the northern region, and in order to join the plan of the Thanh Hoa DARD to restructure agriculture by implementing cooperation models to transfer technology in agriculture to farmers..
“Cooperation to develop sustainable corn farming is the focus of the company’s strategy in Vietnam and we hope to cooperate with ministries, such as the MARD, and farmers to scale up the model to help farmers increase efficiency,” said Pham Van Thuong, Dekalb Vietnam director of sales in the Red River Region.
Mai Nhu Thang, deputy head of office of the Thanh Hoa People’s Committee, said that the model creates linkages from the input stage to the sale of products. “If we scale up this model to the regional level, it is going to be really efficient. Moreover, this cooperation can push large scale production to create competitive products for each region,” he said.