June 29, 2022 | 14:50 GMT +7

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Thursday- 20:55, 03/03/2022

Winter-spring rice in Mekong Delta: ‘shrinking’ profits!

(VAN) Mekong Delta farmers are busy with the winter-spring rice harvest but soaring input costs have shrunk the profits, causing difficulties for them to invest in a new crop.

Input costs soaring

The 2021-2022 winter-spring rice crop in Kenh 4B hamlet (Tan An Commune, Tan Hiep District, Kien Giang Province) is in its full harvest, but farmers are not happy because they cannot get adequate profit.

Mr. Ngo Cong Sinh, a local farmer who owns nearly 8ha of rice, said: “The money I spend on fertilizers and pesticides has surpassed, almost doubled... Costs are increasing every day. Investments in rice production are not worth as profit is too small."

Kien Giang farmers are entering the 2021-2022 winter-spring rice harvest but are not happy because of high input costs resulting in shrinking profits. Photo: Hoang Vu.

Kien Giang farmers are entering the 2021-2022 winter-spring rice harvest but are not happy because of high input costs resulting in shrinking profits. Photo: Hoang Vu.

Sinh sadly added: "Farmers may earn no profit from this crop. If there is any, investment costs will “eat” them up. After selling the rice, we have to take all the money to the material dealer to pay off our debt, so we will be empty-handed. Some who are lucky can keep their productivity, but the selling price now has also decreased deeply to VND5,500/kg for IR 50404 rice and VND5,700/kg for long-grain rice, about VND1,500/kg lower than the same period last year. The cost for hiring a cutting machine also increases from VND 4.5 million to VND5 million/slot of 3ha. A skyrocketing oil price also makes the profit reduce much so farming is still precarious”.

Farmers in Kien Giang Province-the largest rice production area in Mekong Delta have sowed 283,837/283,000ha of rice as planned for the 2021-2022 winter-spring crop. Mr. Nguyen Duc Long, Deputy Director of the Kien Giang Sub-Department of Cultivation and Plant Protection said farmers in the province have so far harvested 41,664ha of winter-spring rice with an average yield lower than the same period last year with an estimate of 6.24 tons/ha.

Localities with large sowing areas include Hon Dat with nearly 80,000ha, Giong Rieng with 46,660ha, Tan Hiep with 36,800ha, and farmers there are in the full harvest season. But in the last week of February, the province recorded 17,333ha of the area infected by pests and diseases, an increase of about 2,500ha compared to the previous week. This forced farmers to increase the prevention cost for the crop.

Not only the high cost of fertilizer due to an increase in prices, but this year also sees quite many infections by pests, which lead to a high cost for prevention and some effects on the yield.

In Tan Hiep District, farmers estimate the rice yield will decrease by 30-50%.

Up to now, Mekong Delta farmers have harvested about 500,000ha of winter-spring rice. Most provinces and cities report a lower yield than that of the same crop last year. Photo: Hoang Vu.

Up to now, Mekong Delta farmers have harvested about 500,000ha of winter-spring rice. Most provinces and cities report a lower yield than that of the same crop last year. Photo: Hoang Vu.

Mr. Le Thanh Tung, Deputy Director of the Department of Crop Production (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) said that in the 2021-2022 winter-spring crop, the whole southern region sowed more than 1.6 million ha, of which the Mekong Delta alone sowed 1. 52 million ha. Up to now, farmers in the area have harvested about 500,000ha. Most provinces and cities reported a lower yield than that of the same crop of the previous year. The production cost increases, while the yield decreases, and the selling price is lower than that of the same period so profit will certainly decrease accordingly.

Firstly, this year’s prices of input materials such as fertilizers and pesticides have increased quite strongly. Secondly, because of the high cost, many farmers are not interested in investing. Thirdly, rice yield decrease due to inadequate care, less investment, and increasing pest attacks. Fourthly, it is the low selling price which has decreased by more than 1,000 VND/kg over the same period last year. Since then, the profit of farmers in this winter-spring rice crop has so far decreased sharply.

Profits plummeted

Harvesting 1ha of rice with a yield of about 8 tons and selling it at the field to traders for VND5,700/kg, farmer Ngo Phuoc Trung, in Dinh Mon Commune, Thoi Lai District (Can Tho City) said: “In this winter-spring rice crop, my family cultivates the OM4900 variety but have to suffer high production costs including tillage, field sanitation, water pumping, rice seed, agricultural materials, labor hire, and harvesting... All costs have increased so we earn very little profit.”

Mekong Delta farmers are harvesting winter-spring rice but soaring input costs have dwindled their profits. Photo: Hoang Vu.

Mekong Delta farmers are harvesting winter-spring rice but soaring input costs have dwindled their profits. Photo: Hoang Vu.

Similarly, Mr. Nguyen Ba Cuong, in Vinh Hanh Commune, Chau Thanh District (An Giang), has just harvested 2.3ha of OM380 rice in 2021-2022 winter-spring rice and sold to traders at VND5,600kg but he is still sad.

Cuong explained winter-spring crop is the main rice crop of the year so farmers always expect this rice crop to be more profitable than others. Unexpectedly, this year's harvest yield does not increase but decreases by nearly 100kg/ha compared to the same period last year.

The reason for this is due to the impacts from factors such as adverse weather and high prices of agricultural materials. Farmers do not dare to invest in fertilizers and plant protection drugs so the yield is not as good as expected.

Moreover, a sudden increase in gasoline prices in recent days also affects the cost of hiring harvest machines.

The rice production cost increases while the yield decreases and the selling price is lower than the same period. These have certainly resulted in a profit decrease for farmers. Photo: Hoang Vu.

The rice production cost increases while the yield decreases and the selling price is lower than the same period. These have certainly resulted in a profit decrease for farmers. Photo: Hoang Vu.

Low profit from the 2021-2022 winter-spring crop will affect the next 2022 summer-autumn one. Farmers do not have resources to reinvest, while the prices of agricultural materials for rice production are forecasted not to cool down. Moreover, the price of petrol has currently increased very high leading to an increase in the cost of land preparation, irrigation, and other mechanized works.

In the last few days, rice prices in many provinces and cities in Mekong Delta is rising slightly from VND100-200/kg compared to previous weeks and farmers are entering the 2021-2022 winter-spring rice harvest. Despite that, the current price is still VND1,000-1,500/kg lower than that of the previous winter-spring crop, depending on the variety. Specifically, rice of IR50404, OM5451, and OM380 varieties are sold to traders and businesses at the rate of VND5,200-5,600/kg right at the field. As for long-grain rice varieties, for high-quality rice such as OM18, OM4900, Dai Thom 8, and Jasmine 85, the price stands at VND5,700-6,000/kg (for machine-cut fresh rice). Particularly, the prices of RVT, ST24, ST25 rice stand at VND6,800-7,000/kg. High costs but low selling prices have pulled farmers' profits down a lot.

Authors: D.T.Chanh - Le Hoang Vu

Translated by Trang Nguyen

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