News and events

Trà Vinh to aid coconut producers

Coconut producers have been given a timely boost after plans were revealed to offer more support to those who work in the industry.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the Mekong Delta province of Trà Vinh received the welcome news this week from Tô Ngọc Bình, deputy director of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment and director of SME Trà Vinh project.

Coconut growing is a big deal in Trà Vinh as it’s the second largest plantation in the Mekong Delta with near 20,000ha.

According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), in order to upgrade the value chain of the industry, the province will focus on strategic solutions such as improving technologies and techniques; replacing coconut cultivars; mechanising transportation; preliminary processing and packaging of coconut fiber industry and diversifying products from coconut fiber and coconut peat.

Trà Vinh will also focus on improving the capacity of corporate management and market access, establishing a satellite network to supply coconuts to processing plants, increasingly promoting trade and supporting enterprises.

A recent survey in two districts with the largest area of coconut in the province (Càng Long and Tiểu Cần) revealed companies operating in the coconut industry in the province mainly use coconut fiber as materials to produce nets, coir, mat and activated carbon. Meanwhile other materials such as copra and coconut milk are made use of by traders and processors outside the province.

It’s hoped in the future local traders and farmers will be able to expand their business to get the best prices for the fruit.

Relevant units will now spend time assessing and analysing the business and propose better solutions to the problems many farmers face, said Phạm Minh Truyền, vice director of the provincial DARD.

Currently, there are six enterprises operating in the coconut industry of Trà Vinh. The province strives to more than double that to 15 by the year 2020, with at least four of them exporting directly.

Raising value chain for peanut

And it wasn’t just coconuts that came under the spotlight.

On Wednesday, Trà Vinh’s DARD and SME project management board also organised a conference to seek solutions for enhancing peanut’s value.

Currently, peanut planting productivity in the province reaches the highest in the country with more than five tonnes per ha.

Peanut from this area are known for being top quality, with big seeds, bright shells and low impurities.

They are considered perfect for processing and export. But despite all their good points, the industry has suffered a number of blows.

Right now, the sources of seed supplied by local people only meet about 20 per cent of the demand, 80 per cent of the remaining peanuts are imported from other provinces.

There is also lack of peanut processing enterprises in the province, causing obstacles for consumption market. Hence, the upgrading of the peanut industry’s value chain to reduce costs and increase profits is an urgent task, Truyền said.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as DARD is in the process of testing new types of peanuts that can be grown in the rainy season. If successful, these peanuts will be rolled out and put into use.

The Trà Vinh SME project, carried out during 2014-20, is sponsored by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade with a total investment of 12.1 million CAD (US$9.8 million), with 11 million CAD being non-refundable aid.

The provincial People’s Committee has also issued a policy to provide financial support to cooperatives and their alliances when joining the large-scale field model, which is being implemented in the locality.

Under the policy, farmers who are growing rice, fruit trees, and coconuts will be provided with VNĐ840,000 (US$36.84) per ha for the first crop and VNĐ560,000 per ha for the second crop.

Farmers join the large-scale field model will also receive subsidy of 30 per cent of seed or sapling costs for the first crop.

Source: Vietnam News

Modest growth for VN: World Bank

In contrast with previous optimistic forecasts for Việt Nam’s economic growth in 2018, the World Bank (WB) has estimated a modest figure of 6.5 per cent, 0.2 percentage point lower than the National Assembly’s target.

In their latest East Asia and Pacific economic update announced on April 12, the WB said Việt Nam’s economy will continue to be stable and sustainable but with a very conservative growth increase compared to predictions from other international organisations, at about 0.1 to 0.6 percentage points lower.

Sudhir Shetty, World Bank Chief Economist for the East Asia and Pacific region, said since Việt Nam’s agricultural sector had recovered strongly in 2017, the country will find it hard to achieve an economic breakthrough in 2018.

Đinh Tuấn Việt, senior economist at the WB in Việt Nam, added that the report was made without the preliminary data for Việt Nam’s economy in the first quarter.

Việt said the WB is cautious and wants to continue collecting data before issuing further predictions.

As for the rest of 2018, the WB says Việt Nam’s slow structural reforms can make the current recovery process weak, slowing growth in the medium term. In addition, poor budgetary control will hinder poverty reduction as well as human resource investment.

On another hand, the country’s current levels of trade turnover and foreign investment are high, making Việt Nam’s economy vulnerable to protectionism-related risks.

These risks require further steps to enhance macro-economic resilience, including the continuation of flexible exchange rate management, foreign exchange reserves strengthening and stricter monetary policy application, in line with the State Bank’s monetary growth policy, said Việt.

In the fiscal sector, revenue-expenditure reforms need to be deepened, including expanding the tax base, rationalising the public administration and increasing the efficiency of public investment.

In addition, reforms within the State-owned sector, such as regulatory improvement for investment, including capital and land, should be carried out simultaneously to ensure the country can maintain stable growth.

“Việt Nam has grown into a much larger economy, so 1 per cent growth now and 1 per cent growth in the past five years require different amounts of effort,” he added.

The WB report emphasises that although the outlook for Việt Nam’s economy in the short term is generally favourable, there are still great challenges.

Since the end of the first quarter, different forecasts for the country’s economic future in 2018 have been published.

The Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) estimated that economic growth in 2018 may reach 6.67 per cent, while the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR) gave a higher number of 6.83 per cent.

Other organisations such as the Asian Development Bank and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, varied greatly in terms of growth rates for Việt Nam in 2018, ranging from 7.1 per cent as one of the strongest growth in the region, to 6.5 per cent.

Source: Vietnam News

Mekong Delta ready for fight against climate change

As hot weather peaks this month in southern Việt Nam, authorities in the Cửu Long (Mekong Delta) region are stepping up efforts to cope with forest fires and salinisation as a response to climate change.

The Delta’s Kiên Giang Province alone has 86,450ha of forested land, accounting for 13.6 per cent of its total area.

“As one of the vulnerable areas for forest fires in the dry season, U Minh Thượng National Park (UMTNP) in Kiên Giang Province is now our biggest concern,” said Lê Văn Trọng, a member of the management board at the park.

“Fire prevention may be easier this year than in 2017 because the park has had few heavy rains in the first two months of the year. The water level is still high in small rivers and lakes in the park,” he added.

Of the park’s total area of 21,000 hectares, 8,000 hectares comprise a core area which houses many rare and endangered birds. A total of 187 bird species, 39 amphibian species and 34 fish species live in the park.

The forest is widely considered the Delta’s richest region in terms of plant and animal life, with over 243 species of plants. The park has a rich mammalian population, totaling an impressive 32 species, which includes hairy-nosed otters and fishing cats.

“Despite this season’s more favorable conditions, the water level at higher parts of the park has fallen quickly since the beginning of the month, so the threat of forest fire is high in that area in particular,” Trọng said.

To solve the water shortage, rangers, soldiers and locals are digging pits to store water capable of containing about 200 m3 of water each, he added.

For key areas at a high risk of fire, rangers and forest owners have been told to mobilise forces and equipment for fire prevention and fighting around the clock during the dry season.

Rangers, soldiers and locals will also be asked to offer assistance in case of fire.

The provincial government has spent more than VNĐ10 billion (US$440,000) for forest fire prevention this year.

Provincial and district forest protection agencies have been asked to work with local authorities to regularly inspect, patrol and strictly manage forest areas to detect violations in a timely manner.

Huỳnh Minh Nguyên, director of UMTNP, said that rangers at watch towers were monitoring the park around the clock.

“The force also regularly patrols the park to prevent locals from entering it illegally to collect honey, or to hunt and fish.

“The canopy is thick and like a tinderbox,” he said.

He added that the UMTNP management board had called on local households to take part in forest management and use preventive measures against fire.

“Apart from this, forest management agencies have been asked to adapt to climate change in the dry season so they can raise awareness about forest protection among local households and train them in proper fire prevention measures when they do daily chores like cooking, collecting honey, or burning dried leaves and dried straw after crops,” Nguyên said.

Trương Thanh Hào, head of the local Forest Protection Sub-department, said that  provincial authorities had instructed local forest rangers, the police, and the army to work closely to prevent fires.

Temporary dams and wells have also been built in forests to store water. In addition to clearing dried branches and bushes in forests, firebreaks have been installed.

Saltwater threats

Because water flow from the Mekong River began to reduce rapidly early this month, saltwater is predicted to enter local rivers more deeply in Delta provinces during the dry season, according to the Southern Institute of Water Resources Research (SIWRR).

In 2010, saltwater began appearing two months earlier than usual and spread more widely and deeply into the major tributary rivers of the Mekong River in the western area, including the Tiền, Hậu and Vàm Cỏ rivers.

Salinity in the early dry season has been unusually bad. As a result, local authorities and farmers have been told to restructure agricultural and aquaculture production to adapt to climate change.

Saltwater is predicted to enter 25 to 35 kilometers at local river gates in Delta provinces, including the Vàm Cỏ River, in the dry season, threatening local water sources.

Water levels in canals have been low since the end of last month, causing saltwater to encroach deep inland.

In Kiên Giang Province’s Kiên Lương District, saltwater has penetrated 15km into the Rạch Giá-Hà Tiên Canal and Canal 15.

In Tiền Giang Province, saltwater has intruded 20km inland and is expected to surge 30-40km by the middle of this month.

The water has a salinity of about four per cent, which is believed to be harmful to crops and expected to enter Bến Lức and Tân An areas in Long An Province.

SIWRR has told local authorities and farmers to store water and have a plan to combat salinisation in the dry season.

The Water Resource Directorate at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is regularly updating information on salinisation and water sources so local authorities can develop plans to cope with climate change.

Local authorities have also been told to monitor salinity at all times and inform farmers about the status, as well as give instructions in restructuring their agriculture and aquaculture production.

The delta provinces of Kiên Giang, Sóc Trăng, Bạc Liêu and Cà Mau have been hit the hardest by saltwater intrusion.

Farmers in Kiên Lương, An Biên, An Minh, Vĩnh Thuận and U Minh Thượng districts in Kiên Giang tried and failed to save standing rice crops last year.


To give farmers up-to-the-minute data about salinity, Cần Thơ City since 2012 has set up eight automatic salinity monitors on main rivers and canals in the city.

Bạc Liêu Province has seen hot weather and saline conditions recently. Together with the neighbouring provinces of Cà Mau and Sóc Trăng, Bạc Liêu is now operating 100 major sluices to adjust the usage level of fresh water. Farmers have been warned to preserve fresh water.

Last year, more than 40 temporary dykes were built in the three provinces.

In an attempt to prevent saline intrusion and preserve soil quality, the entire region is now planting two rice crops each year, instead of three. The extra time is being used to grow vegetables.

Last year, Kiên Giang took precautionary measures by investing more than VNĐ40 billion (US$1.8 million) to upgrade 276 dykes and build sluices on the Kiên River and Cụt Canal.

Another VNĐ20 billion ($900,000) was spent on drilling more wells to ensure fresh water for domestic use.

The Tiền Giang Province’s People’s Committee has instructed relevant agencies to apprise locals about saltwater intrusion.

It has also instructed authorities in coastal districts to dredge canals to store fresh water and pump fresh water for rice fields if saltwater intrusion worsens.

New sea-dyke would help Mekong Delta cope with climate change

Experts and representatives from the Government and international organisations met yesterday in HCM City to discuss the feasibility of a sea-dyke project which could help the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta cope with the effects of climate change.

Speaking at the workshop, Nguyễn Duy Tuấn, director of the Institute of Geology, Water and Environment, said that responding to climate change, especially in the Mekong Delta, was a top national priority.

“It’s vital to invest in new structures to prevent tides and saline intrusion. We also need to store fresh water and respond to rising sea levels in the Mekong Delta, as well as cope with flooding in HCM City,” he said.

The project, which was proposed in 2011 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, would include a 28km-long dyke extending from Gò Công Commune to Vũng Tàu City and Cần Giờ Biosphere Reserve, where it would connect with another dyke 13km long.

The proposal also includes construction of drainage ditches, a Lòng Tàu sluice, and Đồng Tranh estuary dams and canals north of the Soài Rạp River.

Scientists have completed a pre-feasibility study for the project, which has met the requirements of HCM City and Mekong Delta provinces.

To set up a scientific basis for the construction of Vũng Tàu – Gò Công sea dykes, the Ministry of Science and Technology has carried out six independent scientific research projects at the state level.

Prof. Dr. Đào Xuân Học, chairman of the Việt Nam Irrigation Association, said the sea-dyke project would offer a solution to flooding caused by a combination of heavy rains and tides.

It would also address salinity intrusion and rising sea levels for 1.1 million hectares.

“It is recommended that the project be implemented in three phases with a total investment of VNĐ74 trillion (US$3.24 billion),” he said.

Dr. Lê Xuân Tuấn of Hà Nội University of Natural Resources and Environment said it was important to continue to assess floods, tides and mangrove forests and other natural phenomena west of Lòng Tàu River and east of Soài Rạp River.

He explained that the assessment would serve as a basis for a more detailed assessment of the impact of the Vũng Tàu – Gò Công sea dyke construction on the area’s ecosystem, especially on mangroves and benthic animals.

Experts at the workshop also discussed the impact of the project on social and economic development of localities, as well as the development of waterway transport in the region.

The workshop was organised by the Institute of Geology, Water and Environment, Việt Nam Irrigation Association, Việt Nam Hydrological Association and the Hoàng Gia Water and Environment joint-stock company.

Source: Vietnam News

Landslides threaten lives of Chợ Gạo Canal residents

TIỀN GIANG — Hundreds of families living along Chợ Gạo Canal in Mekong province of Tiền Giang fear a landslide might destroy their homes any moment.

Chợ Gạo Canal is an important waterway for transporting goods through ships from HCM City to the Mekong Delta and vice versa. In the 2013-14 period, the Ministry of Transport implemented the first phase of a project to dredge and upgrade the canal.

However, the second phase which was approved to be carried out in the 2016-2017 period in the build, operate and transfer (BOT) format was suspended, as it could be transferred to other form of investment.

Costing VNĐ1.3 trillion (US$57.7 million), the project is aimed at upgrading a 28.6-km section of the canal.

The slow implementation of the project’s second phase has affected the lives of families living along the canal. The entire road system was completely eroded, affecting the business of the local people.

The areas most susceptible to erosion are concentrated in Bình Phục Nhứt, Bình Phan and Xuân Đông communes.

Several sections of dykes along the 10-km canal were eroded.

The local people said the cause of the severe landslide was the large number of boats passing Chợ Gạo every day, while the embankment kept degrading and was not repaired on time.

Trần Thị Thanh Hiền, a resident in Bình Phục Nhứt Commune, said the residents lived in anxiety because the main road was damaged by the landslide.

Hiền, whose house was at least a dozen metres away from the canal long ago, now lives in fear of being swept away by the water, as erosion has brought the house perilously close to the edge of the canal.

To control the landslide, residents were using simple tools such as timber, sand bags and steel wires, but a few days later, the road suffered more damage through another landslide.

These households cannot be shifted because they are waiting for support from the Government to carry out the second phase of the project.

Lê Văn Mỹ, chairman of People’s Committee of Chợ Gạo District, said more than 600 households had been affected by the poor implementation of the second phase of the project.

The local authorities have asked the Transport Ministry to conduct the second phase quickly to help households lead a better life.

The upgrade project will ease the traffic along the canal, preventing ships from getting stuck in landslides and shallow water.


10% of Cà Mau homes to lack clean water in dry season

CÀ MAU — Of Cà Mau Province’s 226,000 households, 10 per cent still do not have access to clean water.

Nguyễn Hạnh Phúc, director of the Clean Water and Rural Environment Sanitation centre, said the province has 232 water supply systems but only 20 of them work effectively.

Most of the water supply systems are damaged, use simple technology, and do not work effectively.

In the dry season, many people lack clean water due to a shortage of water sources and saline surface water, especially in Đầm Dơi, U Minh, Năm Căn, Thới Bình, Trần Văn Thới districts.

Phúc said it was difficult to supply water because many of the households are located in different places. He suggested that local residents try to collect and reserve rainwater during the dry season.

The centre plans to upgrade and extend some water supply systems so they will work more efficiently, and will call for investment to repair damaged systems.


Hậu Giang to get urban clean-water supply by 2020

HẬU GIANG — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Hậu Giang plans to build a safe water-supply network serving 70 per cent of residents in urban areas, with an average of 70 litres per person per day by 2020.

The province’s People’s Committee approved the project for rural areas at a meeting held on Monday. The aim is to provide clean water to all residents in urban areas by 2030.

The project will be divided into two phases with total estimated capital of about VNĐ1.3 trillion (US$57 million).

Capital sources include state budget funds, ODA (Official Development Assistance), and other loan capital.

Under the draft plan, water supply and drainage networks include three options: using water from water supply plans in Mekong Delta; buying water from the Aqua One Drinking Water Factory; and improving existing water plants and building extra reservoirs.

Consulting engineer Nguyễn Quốc Bình said the upgrade of plants and more reservoirs could save a lot of money, compared to other more costly options which will take a long time to implement.

Đồng Văn Thanh, deputy chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, said the project would require about 85.5ha of land to build reservoirs and good management of surface water.

Planning for water supply and use in the province is part of the national target programme on clean water and environment in rural areas and the programme on building new-style rural areas, according to Thanh.

New medium-sized and large water supply systems for residential areas, schools, medical stations and markets are needed, especially in areas with water scarcity and poor quality of water.

Advanced technology is needed to treat brackish water in the case of saltwater intrusion, such as Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology for treatment.

“The project needs to be adjusted soon to submit to the Ministry of Construction for approval,” he added.

Nguyễn Hoàng Anh, deputy director of the province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said the province had nearly 200 water supply stations operating in rural areas.

He said this project would contribute to exploiting water resources more efficiently and meet the need for clean water.

By 2016, nearly 35,000 households living in rural areas had access to clean water, accounting for 24 per cent of total rural households in the province.

The province has more than 46,000 wells supplying about 90,000cu.m of water a day.

Source: Vietnam News

Delta to boost tra fish quality

HCM CITY — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has approved a three-tier co-operation plan for production of high-quality tra fish breeds in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta from now to 2025.

The VNĐ597 billion (US$26.2 million) plan calls for tra fish breeding chains to produce about 50 per cent of the Delta’s demand of 2.2–2.5 billion high-quality fries a year by 2020.

By 2050, the production chains would supply 100 per cent of the Delta’s demand of 2.5–3 billion high-quality fries a year.

The first of the three tiers includes research institutes and universities that use advanced techniques in selecting tra fish breeders, using tra fish breeding production techniques and transferring the techniques to the second tier.

The second tier includes provincial tra fish breed producing centres, companies’ tra fish breed nurseries, while the third-tier includes establishments that nurse tra fish from the newborn to fingerling stages.

The plan will upgrade the An Giang high-quality tra fish breed centre and establish three concentrated tra fish breed production areas in An Giang Province.

Four concentrated tra fish breed production areas in Đồng Tháp Province will also be set up.

In the Delta, there are 108 tra fish artificial reproduction establishments and 1,900 households that nurse newborn tra fish to the fingerling stage, mostly located in An Giang and Đồng Tháp provinces, and Cần Thơ City.

There are about 101,000 tra fish breeders (mature female/male) aged 6-7 years that produce fish fries in tra fish artificial reproduction establishments in the Delta, according to the Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 2.

The delta is now facing a shortage of tra fish fries because of unfavourable weather conditions and small-scale production.

The price of tra fish fries is at VNĐ45,000–50,000 a kilo for the kind of fish that produces about 30 fries a kilo, according to the Việt Nam Pangasius Association.

Early last year, the price for this type was VNĐ27,000–39,000 a kilo.


Việt Nam targets $40b farm exports

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam will focus on expanding the export market for agricultural products in the second quarter of this year, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hà Công Tuấn. Making a speech at the press conference in Hà Nội yesterday, Tuấn said agricultural products were among the seven solution packages conducted by the ministry to maintain growth since early this year, aiming to reach US$40-40.5 billion this year.

In the first quarter of this year, the country reached an estimated export turnover of $8.7 billion from agriculture, forestry and fisheries, marking a growth rate of 4.05 per cent. “This is the highest growth rate in the past 15 years. It’s an effort of the whole sector in directing production and an initial effect of restructuring agriculture, which links production with the trends of the market,” said Tuấn.

At the conference, local media also mentioned the US anti-dumping tax imposed on tra fish imported from Việt Nam and the possibility of the European Commission withdrawing the yellow card against off-shore seafood products of Việt Nam. The warning of the yellow card is part of the EC’s fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing worldwide.

Regarding the imposition of anti-dumping duties on tra fish, Deputy Director of Directorate of Fisheries Nguyễn Quang Hùng said this was an unreasonable action. “My directorate in collaboration with the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) are co-operating with businesses and other relevant sectors to appeal against this judgment,” said Hùng.

In the 13th administrative review (POR13), the US imposed an anti-dumping tax on Vietnamese tra fish five to six times higher than the previous tax, which was $0.69 per kilo.

According to VASEP, Vietnamese businesses are not dumping. The selling price of Vietnamese tra fish is cheaper than that of American fish because inputs such as labour and production conditions are cheaper than the US side. “The US’s decision is unilateral and unfair, not matching the rules of the World Trade Organisation. We do not exclude the possibility that we will seriously consider bringing this case to international arbitration,” said Tuấn.

In regard to the EC’s yellow card for the Vietnamese off-shore seafood, Tuấn said the ministry in co-ordination with relevant sectors would further improve legal framework, including the Fisheries Law which was passed by the National Assembly in 2017. “We have organised many missions to dialogue with other countries as well as strengthening patrol and surveillance of fishing vessels to prevent fishermen from fishing illegally in foreign waters,” said Tuấn. Tuấn said the sector had also co-operated with local authorities to instruct fishermen to strictly implement regulations on catching and traceability of seafood resources. “Not only that, we are directing with other items such as timber and forest products to ensure the traceability according to law,” added Tuấn.

Source: Vietnam News

Cần Thơ to build 700ha specialised fruit farm

HCM CITY — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta city of Cần Thơ plans to develop a 700ha specialised fruit growing area for export in Phong Điền District.

Located in Nhơn Nghĩa Commune, the area will be based on existing fruit orchards. The zoned area now has 477ha of mixed orchards which need to be improved.

Farmers are planting many types of fruits, including Burmese grape, mango, milk apple and durian in the mixed orchards.

The specialised fruit growing area will also have one or two key fruits.

The commune’s farmers are switching to Idol longan, which could become the area’s key fruit, besides milk apple and durian.

Đào Anh Dũng, deputy chairman of the Cần Thơ People’s Committee, said the establishment of the specialised fruit growing area would produce a large quantity of fruit to meet export demand.

It will also help increase income and improve the lives of farmers.

The area will be produce organic agricultural products under the most modern standards to meet world demand, he said.

Government agencies plan to invest in transport infrastructure, dyke and sluice gate systems for the area.

The area has a 7.6 km section located along the Cần Thơ River’s Ba Láng – Vàm Xáng section that is often eroded, affecting transport and agriculture production, according to the district’s People’s Committee.

Nguyễn Văn Sử, chairman of the district’s People’s Committee, said the district would work with the city’s departments and agencies to find stable outlets for the specialised fruit cultivation area.

The district’s People’s Committee and city agencies will determine the key fruits for the specialised fruit growing area, according to the district’s People’s Committee.

If the specialised fruit cultivation area grows longan, the district will identify the types of longan suited to domestic and foreign markets, it said.

The city has more than 17,120 ha of fruits with an annual yield of 98,000 tonnes.

Its fruit planting areas are mostly in Phong Điền District.

The city’s People’s Committee has called on companies to co-operate with farmers in producing and exporting fruits, especially longan, star apple and mango.


Sustainable agriculture project raises farmers’ profits by 14 per cent

CẦN THƠ—The Việt Nam-Sustainable Agriculture Transformation Project (VnSAT) in the Mekong Delta has helped raise farm profits by 14 per cent after two years of implementation, according to Đặng Minh Cường, the project’s deputy head.

Speaking at a recent conference held in Cần Thơ City by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Cường said the project had helped profits rise from VNĐ33.1 million (US$1,464) per ha to VNĐ37.1 million ($1,627) per ha.

Many companies have provided guaranteed outlets for 23,000 of the total 50,000 ha covered by the project.

Last year, more than 60,000 farmers have taken part in the VnSAT project and were trained in sustainable rice cultivation.

Forty-four farmers unions, associations and other farmer groups in the Mekong Delta region were given a total of $13.5 million in funds from the World Bank to buy equipment, materials, and other items.

However, Nguyễn Thanh Hùng, vice chairman of Đồng Tháp Province’s People’s Committee, said many farmers had not applied the cultivation and production techniques that had learned during the project.

Hùng said the project staff should try to raise this figure and encourage use of advanced machines.

The province is working with a company specialising in providing these machines such as a three-in-one machines that harvest, fertilise crops and sprays permitted chemicals on fields.

Through these machines, they have been able to reduce the quantity of rice variety from 70 kilogrammes to 80 kilogrammes per ha, compared to the targeted number of 30 to 40 kilogrammes, he added.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Lê Quốc Doanh said he agreed with the World Bank’s suggestion mechanise rice production.

From 2018 to 2020, regional authorities should focus on reaching the project targets so the Government can achieve results in its agricultural restructuring programme.

VnSAT began in December in 2015 in seven provinces: An Giang, Đồng Tháp, Hậu Giang, Kiên Giang, Long An, Sóc Trăng and Tiền Giang, as well as Cần Thơ City, and the five Central Highlands provinces of Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông, Gia Lai, Kon Tum and Lâm Đồng.

The project is expected to help increase the number of agricultural products with export value worth more than $1 billion, including rice, coffee, pepper, rubber, cashews, wood, fruit, tra fish, shrimp, and cassava.

With total capital of $301 million provided by the World Bank, the Vietnamese government and the private sector, the project aims to use advanced technologies in rice production on 200,000 ha for 140,000 farmers, raising profits by 30 per cent per ha.

It is estimated that the total added value for the entire region will be $60 million per ha.

In the Central Highlands region, the VnSAT project provided advanced technologies to 63,000 farmers for use on 69,000 ha.

The total added value is expected to be around $48 million to $50 million for each year from 2015 to 2020.

This year, VnSAT continued to offer training techniques in cultivation and production for farmers.

Their organisational staff of VnSAT will also be trained in administration, screening and evaluation methods.