WB, EU committed to sponsoring project of one million hectares

The World Bank (WB) and the European Union (EU) are committed to sponsoring the project of one million hectares of high-quality, low-carbon rice production associated with green growth in the Mekong Delta until 2030.

WB, EU are committed to sponsoring project of one million hectares

The project - a part of an effort to restructure the region's production system and value chain with a focus on sustainable farming practices, higher product value, greater business and production efficiency - will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The two international above-mentioned organizations promised to support the project at the recent International Festival of Vietnam's rice industry.

Chairman Nguyen Thanh Tam of the Board of Directors of Thuan Loi Cooperative in Long My district, Hau Giang Province said that all members of the cooperative are very happy to be chosen by the agricultural industry as a production place in the Project of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. More than 100 cooperative members here produce on an area of nearly 500 hectares.

Long My District is a locality bordering Bac Lieu and Kien Giang provinces, severely affected by drought and salinity. However, over the years, farmers here have approached the special production process, so rice productivity and quality are always high. Nearly 5,000 farming households in Long My District have participated in the inter-regional sustainable rice development program in the area with more than 1,000 hectares.

This is a highlight of Hau Giang province's success in implementing the Sustainable Agricultural Transformation Project (VnSAT) which is supported by the WB.

Over 50,000 farmers in Hau Giang Province are proficient in advanced production processes on an area of about 25,000 hectares of rice. Farmers working in the project area are professional in applying the special production process so they have saved costs, reduced emissions, and increased 30 percent profit compared to traditional production in addition to using machinery and equipment such as seed sprayers and fertilizer spraying drones. Importantly, farmers are willing to apply advanced technology in production, said Ms. Nguyen Thi Giang, Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Hau Giang Province.

Cao Thang Binh, a senior agricultural expert at the World Bank, pointed out important data for the Mekong Delta to implement the project. Notably, over the past 7 years, the VnSAT Project has been applied synchronously in 8 Mekong Delta provinces including Long An, Tien Giang, Kien Giang, Can Tho, An Giang, Dong Thap, Soc Trang and Hau Giang.

Accordingly, 156,000 rice farming households here have applied sustainable rice farming practices on a total of 184,000 hectares of rice growing land of the project, rice production profits increased by 30 percent. Mr. Cao Thang Binh revealed that the VnSAT project has helped reduce emissions of 1.5 million tons of CO2 equivalent abbreviated as CO2-eq per year. If this result is replicated on 1 million hectares of rice-growing land in the Mekong Delta, it will bring the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 8 million tons of CO2-eq annually.

The Southeast Asian country got success in 2023 with Vietnamese rice being honored as the best in the world. However, it is necessary to identify the right direction to produce according to market needs. Experts say that the international market is shifting to green and sustainable products. Both retailers and consumers in major food-importing countries are demanding high sustainability standards for imported agricultural products.

Therefore, the implementation of the project is a way to enhance the position of Vietnamese rice. Sharing with foreign guests at the recent International Festival of Vietnam's rice industry, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said that Vietnam is the first country to grow 1 million hectares of high-quality, low-emission rice. This project demonstrates Vietnam's responsibility to the international community in combating climate change when building low-emission agriculture.

According to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan, the project's most important goal is to create livelihoods and orient sustainable development for rice farmers. He said that Vietnam will pilot new policies such as paying carbon credits based on results with a focus on low-emission production associated with green growth while developing an agricultural economy in a circular economy.

If the pilot scheme in the Mekong Delta is successful, the project will be implemented nationwide, aiming to make ‘Green development, reduced emissions, high quality’ the brand of Vietnamese rice. Changing perceptions of rice producers and traders, effective public-private cooperation, and support from international organizations such as WB, ADB, and IRRI will be the key to the project's success.

Ms. Carolyn Turk, Director of the World Bank in Vietnam, pledged to accompany and support Vietnam in implementing the project. The European Union (EU) also sponsored more than EUR 4.1 million for the project ‘Transforming smart, sustainable and climate change-responsive ecological agricultural systems in the Mekong Delta’.Chairman Cao Duc Phat of the Board of Directors of the International Rice Research Institute said the Institute will mobilize maximum scientists with the latest skills to participate in the project implementation. First of all, the institute will provide and coordinate the selection and creation of suitable, high-quality rice varieties. Additionally, it will continue to improve rice cultivation processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and techniques for monitoring and measuring greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the institute will propose to improve relevant policies as well as train officials and farmers.

Hau Giang is determined to carry out the project

Leaders of Hau Giang Province had a field visit at the beginning of the year at rice fields in Vi Binh Commune in Vi Thuy District. This is a rice field where people apply production processes according to the project.

Speaking at the field visit, Secretary of the Hau Giang Provincial Party Committee Nghiem Xuan Thanh praised farmers for applying good farming methods and highly appreciated the effectiveness that the model brings, especially in implementing the key goals of the project.

Secretary of the Hau Giang Provincial Party Committee proposed that the agricultural sector and localities continue to replicate the model to contribute to improving the value and income for rice growers in addition to protection of the environment and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, farmers in Vi Binh Commune have applied the cluster sowing method, with the amount of rice seeds sown 60kg a ha and fertilizer 300-450kg/ha but they don’t spray pesticides for 40 days after sowing and applying the technique of irrigation water management. In the winter-spring rice crop of 2023-2024, Hau Giang Province has 15,600 hectares being produced by farmers according to the goal of the Project of 1 million hectares of high-quality rice. Accordingly, 100 percent of the area in the project applies sustainable farming processes and links the production and consumption of products.

Hau Giang province is the first province in the Mekong Delta region pioneers to collect all field straw for making raw materials. This helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 10 percent compared to traditional farming, and increases the added value of the rice chain by 40 percent, in which the profit margin of rice growers reaches over 50 percent.

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