Effective Farming Model Brings High Hopes to Poor Farmers

Cau Tre Hamlet of Tra Vinh Province is organizing festivities to mark a bumper crop of rice this summer-autumn season. In front of the gate to the elementary school where the festivities are taking place, schoolchildren with funny masks wearing beautiful, colorful clothes stand in two separate rows, singing and dancing to drum-beats as they welcome guests. 

Young people dance together in festivities marking a bumper crop of rice in the summer-autumn season

 The large, high mound on which Cau Tre Hamlet is situated separates it from lower, neighboring areas of the province. This is the homeland of 158 farming households of Khmer-born Vietnamese, who have faced continuous worries of crop failure for years due to a shortage of water for irrigation.

In an effort to improve crop yields for the villagers, three months ago, local authorities decided to develop a new model for producing rice in which the State, entrepreneurs and scientists joined hands to give assistance and support to farmers to ensure a good crop.

A meeting was convened under the large eaves of a local resident’s house, where local authorities met with farmers, representatives of the Plant Protection Department and of the Plant Protection Company. In the meeting, the representative of the Plant Protection Department committed to providing the farmers with necessary techniques while the rep from the Plant Protection Co. pledged to give financial support, fertilizer and rice seed in case their crops faced trouble due to bad weather or pestilent insects.

After the meeting, Dr. Nguyen Nhu Cuong, working for the Plant Protection Institute together with several colleagues, stayed at the hamlet so that they could work in the fields with local farmers and provide direct and specific guidance. This season, local farmers were overjoyed when they witnessed their rice plants covering the paddies of Cau Tre in a fresh, velvet green carpet.

Dr. Cuong said, “It’s hard to persuade local farmers to follow our guidance when they are stuck to their own farming habits.”

When asked to sow between 80 and 100 kilos of rice seed over one hectare of land, the farmers initially refused to do so because they were used to sowing between 200 and 300 kilos over the same area. It was explained to them that their method wasn’t optimal or effective enough, as the more seeds they planted, the more fertilizer they had to use. Without enough fertilizer, the rice plants would only branch off, instead of producing as many flowers as desired.

At the end of the season, each household in the hamlet reaped in around 5.8 tons of rice per hectare, earning as much as VND 10 million per hectare – a dream the farmers had never dared sustain before. Farmer Thach Minh spoke out as he could not curb his enthusiasm, “On April 2, I began to sow rice seeds on my 9,000 square meter paddy, and on July 16, I harvested 5,670 kilos of rice at VND 2,350 each. The estimated profit after deducting all expenses will be approximately VND 13 million. My family’s life is changing now.”

The fruition of the Cau Tre Hamlet model indicates that the process can be introduced to other localities to boost agricultural production. Needless to say, apart from the assistance and support from local government and entrepreneurs, the decisive factor of the success is the application of scientific and technical methods in choosing rice seeds, laying fertilizer, and preventing or killing pestilent insects.

As a distinguished guest of the festivities, Mr. I’th Sa Run, director of the Takheo Province Agricultural Department, said that he was quite impressed by the success of the model and wished that his Vietnamese friends would help set up similar ones across the region. He said, “It definitely makes a difference in our agricultural production as the farming habits of Khmer people are the same as those of Khmer-born Vietnamese.” 

By Le Phu Khai – Translated by Phuong Lan

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