Developing Agriculture towards Sustainability and Efficiency

3:46:35 PM | 18/3/2016

By effectively exploiting the provincial potential and advantages in terms of land, species and crop structure; also strengthening the application of scientific and technological advances in production, the agriculture sector of Soc Trang has gained encouraging achievements, improved farmers’ income and living standards, as well as promoted socio-economic development. Vietnam Business Forum interviewed Mr Huynh Ngoc Van, Deputy Director of Soc Trang Department of Agriculture & Rural Development. Bao Chau reports.
 
Could you share more details about the achievements Soc Trang agriculture has made in the last five years?
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries in the province have maintained a sustainable healthy growth rate over the years across all sectors, in which aquaculture and livestock have had strong and significant growth. These two can be considered the driving force behind the growth and development of agriculture, forestry and fisheries; also the two areas with the highest potential for growth in the near future. The province has formed concentrated production areas, while infrastructure and processing facilities have been initially completed; and the people's living standard has gradually improved. By expanding crops, paying attention to the use of high-yield varieties and actively applying advanced farming techniques, rice production in the province has increased continuously, reaching over 2.2 million tons in 2014, up 0.59 million tons compared to 2000.
 
Livestock, despite encountering some difficulties, has maintained a healthy growth rate in production value; pig and chicken farming under the industrial concentrated method has shown initial development; invested dairy herds have been growing, bringing in high income for farmers. Fisheries has been increasing in area, production and export value, compared to 2000, 2014’s farming area increased at a modest pace by 1.6 times, but production increased by 6.3 times; in which prawn, although farming area increased only 1.4 times, saw a productivity increase of 7.4 times, and the export value of seafood increased by 2.23 times while overall agricultural production rose 1.56 times.
 
Soc Trang has long been considered the “cradle” of fragrant rice, a specialty of the Mekong Delta. In the last five years, what kind of investment has Soc Trang agriculture made to exploit this strength, particularly the implementation of the Scheme “Developing specialty fragrant rice production in the province”?
The scheme “Developing specialty rice production to 2015” was adopted by Soc Trang at the 4th Session of the 8th Provincial Council dated 6th July 2012 and was approved by the Provincial People’s Committee’s Chairman in Decision 1033/QDHC-CTUBND dated 11October 2012. The scheme was designed with the aim of achieving the Resolution of Soc Trang’s 12th Provincial Party, which set the target of a stable rice output at around 1.7 million tons/year, of which fragrant rice accounted for over 20 percent by 2015.
 
After four years of implementation, the project has achieved various positive results, fragrant rice farming areas has grown sustainably; many areas participating in the scheme have shown initial success in the pilot project, helping raise the incomes of rice farmers.
 
Following the policy of the province, local authorities have proactively implemented various pilot models of specialty rice and fragrant rice fields; preliminary results show that pilot models under the scheme have helped strengthen the links between farmers, as well as between farmers and businesses. Contracts between farmers and businesses have helped form areas of aromatic rice production directly linked with the consumer market, notably ST Rice and Tai Nguyen Rice. Products from cultivation areas under the scheme have high quality meeting the demands of the consumption market. Soc Trang’s fragrant rice is popular both at home and abroad; ST5 rice in the market is priced higher than conventional rice by VND500-700/kg, ST20 rice is about VND1,200-1,500/kg higher, while seasonal Tai Nguyen Rice is around VND1,000-1,200/kg higher, varying seasonally.
 
Can you tell us about the orientation for restructuring Soc Trang’s agriculture in the 2015-2020 period, especially for the two key products of rice and shrimp?
Scheme 04/DA-UBND dated 25 June 2014 of Soc Trang Provincial People’s Committee has identified that in the near future, the provincial agriculture will focus on developing five major crops and five major animals, including the two important agricultural products of rice and shrimp.
 
Specifically for rice, the province set the target of having 330,000 ha of cultivation area by 2020 (116,000 ha of specialty rice), average yield of 6.1 tons/ha - 6.3 tons/ha, rice production of over 2 million tons/year. As for shrimp, the goal is 45,000 ha of stable brackish water for farming shrimp (prawn, white shrimp), of which 30,000 ha will be for intensive and semi-intensive farming. Production of brackish water shrimp is 91,000 tons, 105,000 tons by 2020.