Several dozen large-scale rice fields with areas of between 100 and 2,000 hectares have been put to use in the Mekong Delta for the ongoing summer-autumn rice crop.
This is the result of a programme launched in March by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to have rice grown on large-scale farms throughout the Mekong Delta, which has 12 provinces and Can Tho City.
The programme follows the successful implementation of the delta's first large-scale rice farm, covering an area of more than 1,000ha in An Giang province, for the 2010-11 winter-spring rice crop.
For this year's summer-autumn rice crop, the programme targets that all the Delta provinces as well as Can Tho City would set up at least one large-scale farm on a pilot basis and increase the number later by having farmers join together under large production organisations.
Under the first production model, the Vinh Binh Rice Farm in Chau Thanh district's Vinh Binh commune was organised by the An Giang Plant Protection Company.
It brought together 458 farming households whose fields were located near each other. They planted their rice on the same day and tended to their fields with production techniques provided by company officials.
The company supplied the rice seeds, fertilisers and other inputs in advance to the farmers without any interest rate, and bought all harvested paddy.
In the last winter-spring rice crop, the production cost of one kilo of paddy in the Vinh Binh Farm was 30 per cent lower than that of individual, small-scale farms, the company claimed.
With a yield of 8-9 tonnes per hectare, participating farmers earned a profit of more than 150 per cent, it said.
Doan Ngoc Pha, deputy director of the An Giang provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "For this summer-autumn crop, An Giang has more than 3,000 hectares of large-scale rice farms in Thoai Son and Chau Thanh districts."
He said the An Giang Plant Protection Company and the An Giang Export Import Company invested in rice seeds, fertilisers and pesticides, provided "clean-production techniques" and guaranteed outlets for participating farmers.
The Vinh Binh Rice Farm has expanded to 1,600ha for the summer-autumn crop, he noted.
Meanwhile, Dong Thap province has set up 10 large-scale rice farms covering more than 1,500ha with the participation of nearly 1,200 farmers who cultivate rice using the Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGap) standard.
Long An province has also organised similar farms in the districts of Moc Hoa, Duc Hue, Tam Hung, Vinh Hung and Tan Thanh.
Soc Trang, Kien Giang, Tien Giang and Tra Vinh have set up one large-scale farm each with areas of 900-1,000ha, while other provinces in the delta have managed one each with areas of 300-500ha.
In Can Tho city, the Dong Van Co-operative Team in Vinh Thanh district's Thay Ky hamlet was selected to organise a large-scale rice farm that now has an area of 400ha belonging to 208 farming households.
The Co-operative Team had 135 farming households with a total area of 295ha come together for the 2010-11 winter-spring crop.
Nguyen Van Thanh, head of the team, said when they were selected to form the city's first large-scale rice farm, other farmers who were not members of the cooperative team, but had their rice fields nearby registered to participate in the project.
He said the co-operative team, established in 2008, was selected because its members were familiar with co-operative production and producing high quality rice by applying techniques taught by local officials.
The Plant Cultivation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said it planned to expand the area of large-scale farms in the southern region to 20,000-40,000ha next year and to 50,000-80,000ha in 2013./.