Mekong plan targets low-carbon rice output

All production areas are expected to apply at least one sustainable farming practice. — Vietnam News

HANOI: The central government has set a target for the Mekong Delta to establish one million ha of high-quality, low-carbon rice production by the year 2030.

The project, signed on Monday by Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang, will be deployed across the provinces of An Giang, Kien Giang, Dong Thap, Long An, Soc Trang, Can Tho, Bac Lieu, Tra Vinh, Hau Giang, Ca Mau, Tien Giang and Vinh Long.

It is 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, as well as improved livelihoods of rice farmers, in accordance with Vietnam’s commitment to protect the environment, adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In terms of sustainable farming, the project aims to reduce seedlings to less than 70 kilogrammes per ha, decrease chemical fertiliser and pesticide use by 30% and reduce irrigation water by 20% compared to traditional farming methods.

All production areas are expected to apply at least one sustainable farming practice, such as the one to five reduction, sustainable rice platform (SRP) production standards, alternate wetting and drying, and certified good agricultural practices with designated growing area codes.

Regarding production organisation, all production areas are expected to link up with companies and cooperatives, farmer organisations and consumers.

The mechanisation rate is expected to exceed 70%, with more than one million households partaking in sustainable farming practices.

The project aims to reduce harvest losses to below 8%, collect 100% of straw from fields for reuse and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 10%, compared to traditional rice cultivation methods.

In terms of farmers’ income, the project aims to increase the value added in the rice value chain by 40% by 2030, with a profit margin for rice farmers greater than 50%.

High-quality and low-emission rice exports are expected to account for over 20% of the total rice exports from the entire dedicated cultivation area.

Phase 1 of the project (2024 and 2025) is to focus on consolidating existing areas covered by the 180,000ha Sustainable Agriculture Transformation project in Vietnam (VnSAT) with a pilot programme on carbon credits for areas that meet required emission standards and plans to strengthen local cooperatives and upgrade infrastructure.

Phase 2’s targets (2026 to 2030) include identifying areas suitable for high-quality, low-emission rice farming areas beyond the VnSAT that prioritise infrastructure planning and investment, production restructuring, value chain building and infrastructure.

The Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry (MARD) has been tasked with leading and coordinating with other ministries, local authorities and economic sectors in the Mekong Delta region in the implementation of the project.

MARD has also been tasked with formulating regulations on measuring, reporting, and verifying greenhouse gas emissions in line with international regulations and specific conditions in Vietnam, as well as to submit a proposal on a pilot programme for result-based carbon credit payments.

The project is to introduce four key programmes, including capacity-building for cooperatives and businesses participating in the project; credit support programmes for linking production, processing and the consumption of high-quality, low-emission rice products between cooperatives and businesses, the modernisation of production infrastructure for one million ha of high-quality rice and a carbon payment pilot programme.

According to MARD, the project is to play a key role in the development of Vietnam’s eco-agriculture, which will transform the rice sector in the direction of sustainability.

Dr Tran Cong Thang, head of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development under MARD, said the objective of the project is to reorganise the production system along the value chain, applying sustainable farming practices to increase value and promote sustainable development of the rice industry.

Dr Duong Van Chin, former deputy director of the Mekong Delta Rice Institute, said the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is imperative for the survival of the climate and is a globally-oriented action plan.

“We must join hands not only because of Vietnam’s commitment to the world but also for the current and future living environment of each of us,” said Chín.

“Only in this way can Vietnam achieve its set goals. We need to review activities that can be reduced and make a concerted effort to implement them well.” — Viet Nam News/ANN

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