Mekong Delta’s “start-up farmer” in search of organic rice

Graduating from the Mekong Delta’s prestigious Can Tho University, 24-year-old Pham Thanh Vu still refers himself as a farmer in the truest sense of the word.

Mekong Delta’s “start-up farmer” in search of organic rice

Phạm Thanh Vũ works on an organic paddy field which is able to resist the impacts of climate change.

Over the past four years, along with his studies, Vũ has experimented and cultivated different types of organic rice and vegetables on a small farm of 4,500sq.m in Hòn Đất District, Kiên Giang Province.

He had meticulously run countless tests on soil quality and pests situations since his second year at university before throwing the dice for commercial cultivation in 2019.

An investment of VNĐ15 million (US$645) per 1,000sq.m brought a profit of VNĐ40 million ($1,700), Vũ said.

“Organic farming is my passion,” said Vũ, recalling his undergraduate days when he worked part time for agricultural projects to finance his trips to farms in Việt Nam’s rice bowl to learn different cultivation models and farming practices.

Those field trips offered Vũ opportunities to meet and talk with both farmers and researchers as he realised agricultural science had to go hand-in-hand with the cultivating conditions, soil and climate in each area.

Born and raised in Hòn Đất District – one of the Delta’s oldest rice-cropping localities, Vũ was eager to experiment on innovative and organic farming methods to help local farmers better manage their crops, save expenses and mitigate climate change impacts.

Since 2019, he has developed a hydroponic vegetable cultivation system and sold to local households.

Depending on the number of family members, Vũ will set up racks from 4-15m to efficiently serve the daily demand for vegetables at VNĐ2.5-20 million ($107 to 860).

Start it up on rice

It was a special encounter with Professor Huỳnh Quang Tín of the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute that helped Vũ open a new door to cultivate organic rice and able to resist salinity, alum and diseases.

 

Tín gave Vũ three types of national-level rice including Long Hồ 8, AG 1 and TC 7 for piloting.

These types of rice require 100 per cent plant-based fertiliser to unleash the special flavours, sweetness, aroma and nutrition.

They can adapt quite well to different weather conditions and the impacts of climate change in the Mekong Delta, according to Vũ.

At present, he cultivates each type on an area of 3,000sq.m with productivity of 800kg for every 1,000sq.m.

The best seeds from each crop are saved for the next season and the rest are for sale, ranging from VNĐ13,000 to 50,000 (56 US cents to $2.15) per 1kg.

Several organic food distributors in Long An Province and HCM City have approached Vũ to offer contract farming but he turned them down.

His current priority is to research 20 different new types of rice as well as set up cameras on farms for customers to track the growth of their crops.

At the end of each season, Vũ plans to air a video on the production of organic rice.

“Dare to think and to do,” Vũ Hoài Thanh, secretary of Hòn Đất District's HCM Communist Youth Union said about Vũ.

“His passion for agriculture and aspiration to apply innovations as well as sustainable farming methods are changing our hometown,” he added. — VNS

 
 

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