No degree, no problem for this rice innovator

Update: 14:05 | 07/02/2019

Despite lacking a college or university education, farmer Pham Van Nhut in Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre has made great contributions to agricultural development in his community.

Nhut, a 52-year-old from Giong Trom District’s Phong My Commune, has restored or created more than 10 rice varieties with high quality, productivity and pest-resistance.

After demobilization from the army in 1987, Nhut began rice cultivation on 3,000sq.m of land his parents gave him. Like other farmers at that time, he struggled to make ends meet.

He even thought of replacing rice with other plants after suffering losses for years. In 1995, Nhut had the chance to attend a training class on rice hybrids organized by Ben Tre Province’s Agricultural Breeding Centre in collaboration with Can Tho University.

No degree, no problem, this rice innovator, farmer Pham Van Nhut, great contributions, agricultural development, rice varieties5sc

Research on creating new rice varieties is Pham Van Nhut’s favourite work.

Inspired by teachers like professor Huynh Quang Tin and Nguyen Thi Thu Cuc from Can Tho University, he started creating his own rice strains.

Then, in 2011, he was invited to take part in a programme on rice breeding and biodiversity conservation under the framework of a project sponsored by the Netherlands.

Through the training and visiting key rice-production provinces in Mekong Delta, Nhut realized the need to restore OC10, a rice variety which suffered degradation, to provide salinity-resistant rice for local growers, which is also favored by vermicelli makers.

It took him a year to complete the work. Following this success, Nhut revived other rice varieties including AGPPS-103, Hau My and Hon Dat, which were all later certified.

Nhut decided to expand his rice variety production. He created a new rice variety named PM1 (Phong My 1) with high yield and pest-resistance. Nhut continued generating other new rice varieties.

He tested multiplying herbal rice seeds that his friend brought to him from Japan three years ago. Now he has more than 3,000sq.m planted with this kind of rice, yielding four tonnes per hectare.

The herbal rice was fed with organic fertilizer to protect the environment. Fortunately, the rice was popular among consumers. With price of herbal rice of between 20,000-40,000 VND (0.9-1.7 USD) a kilo, double or four times higher than normal rice, farmers like him were in the money.

Nhut also worked with a farmer in his commune to set up Phong My Rice Breeding Production Unit, specialized in providing high-quality rice varieties. Each year, the unit supplies hundreds of tonnes of rice varieties to the market.

In addition, Nhut has signed contracts with local farmers on organic farming to grow LH16 and herbal rice varieties and he takes care of sales.

Nhut said in the future he could collaborate with other farmers in building a brand for rice from Phong My Commune.

As his prestige spread over Mekong Delta, a Lao company invited him to go the Champasak, a province in southwestern Laos, to introduce his techniques to local farmers. It was here that he taught local residents how to use plowing and sowing machines.

Thanks to his achievements, Nhut won the title ‘Rice variety breeding and biodiversity conservation farmers in 1995-2015 from the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute and was honored as an excellent farmer by provincial authorities in 2014 and 2016.

Thanks to his efforts, Nhut’s family earns hundreds of millions of Vietnamese dong each year through rice cultivation, he said.

Tri hoped that in the future more support would be given to Nhut so he could expand his organic production. Once local rice had a trademark, income for local farmers would be boosted, he said.

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Source: VNS/VNA

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