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Ministry sets new 2010 agriculture targets
11 | 07 | 2007
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set new development targets for the agriculture sector in the Mekong Delta.
By 2010, there should be 3.8 million ha of rice paddies in the region, producing 5.2 tonnes of rice per ha, said ministry representatives. In total, farmers would produce about 19 million tonnes of rice every year to meet growing domestic and foreign demands.

The ministry predicts up to 5 million tonnes of rice will have to be exported in order to raise the average household income to between 700 and 750 USD a year.

Currently, farmers get 20 million VND (1,250 USD) for every hectare of land or fisheries they own annually. To reach the ministry's goal for the region, production yields will have to increase by 13 million VND in just three years.

Ministry officials are hoping their objectives will help reduce the number of poor households in the area from almost 9 percent to as low as 4 percent.

In addition, all rural homes must have electricity and 400,000 new jobs should be created per year under the plan.

To meet these targets, the ministry is asking the regional People's Committees to re-think their production strategy. Officials are suggesting farmers only plant two crops of rice and a third crop of vegetables, instead of three, and invest in high quality rice species that are resistant to common diseases and insects.

The Delta should produce more corn as well and increase the area under the crop to 200,000 ha, according to the ministry. By planting more, farmers will be able to grow up to 800,000 tonnes of the crop in a year and harvest six times what they do now.

Fruit orchards are another way farmers might get more bang for their buck.

Officials are hoping people in the region can plant up to 400,000 ha of mango, longan and orange trees by 2010.

Sugarcane production will remain the same for farmers, but regulations will make it mandatory for different strains to be used to inflate output to 7 million tonnes of the sagary substance per annum.

The ministry's plans for expansion include revitalising livestock breeding programmes too.

Official would like to see the breeders raise more than 4 million pigs, 700,000 cattle and 50 million domestic fowl in modern, large-scale animal farms in three years time.

To make this happen, the ministry has vowed to continue its crop and livestock programme that supplies saplings and young livestock to farmers.

One issue standing in the way of growth in this sector is the preservation and processing technology and equipment used, making it difficult for Vietnamese farmers to compete with big producers like Thailand.

The Government is dedicating resources to build 30 rice processing centres capable of processing centres 3.5 million tonnes of rice per year in provinces along the Delta, said officials.

Improving fruit and vegetable processing mills is also on the agenda. The ministry would like to see the mill in Kien Giang province process 30,000 tonnnes of fruit and vegetables per year, while the two mills in Tien Giang and An Giang will increase their capacity by 15,000 tonnes.

Officials said a new fruit and vegetable mill that can process 20,000 tonnes annually will be built in Can Tho , with two more in the works in Dong Thap and Vinh Long.

The Delta is made up of 12 provinces that account for 12 percent of Viet Nam's total land mass.

The region boasts 2.97 million ha of farm land and its rice production totals more than 50 percent of Viet Nam's output and 90 percent of the country's rice exports.

Farmers here have the most land used in fish farming in Viet Nam and produce 55 percent of the country's fresh water shrimp and fish.

The area has 2,500 km of natural rivers and canals, 3,000 km of artificial canals and 1 million ha of seasonal submerged land.

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