Founders of the Mekong Organics visited an integrated rice-based vegetables, fruit, livestock farming in the Mekong Delta
We visited an innovative farmer, a smallholder rice farmer in Thuan Hung Commune, My Tu District of Soc Trang province, in the Mekong Delta where Dr Kien grew up. Kien’s brothers are rice farmers in this village. They have grown rice for generations. Rice is grown intensively, using chemical fertilizer and pesticides, and irrigation in this village. One of his brothers owns 0.5 hectares of rice land. He has two kids, one is in the final year of crop protection, the undergraduate level at Can Tho University, and the other is in high school. He said he stopped growing three crops of rice because the return becomes less and less due to the increase in agronomic inputs. He decided to transfer his rice land into a tiny permaculture farm which includes one-third of land for growing orchard (grapefruit), combined with leaf vegetables, integrated with aquaculture (snakehead fish, white fish and catfish) in the pond, raised chicken in the garden. The chicken manure is used for making compost to grow vegetables and feed the fish. He also diversifies income sources by raising two cattle in the system. He is collecting wild grasses in the rice paddy banks for feeding cattle, using their manure to make compost for fertilizing his fruit trees and leafy vegetables. He said this integrated system provided much higher income that he could support his son’s eudcation in the university. If he continues to grow rice only, his monthly income is less and not stable. Integrated farming systems are one of the best choices for the smallholder farmers in order to secure diversity of food and income, being more resilient.